Catholic priests in military face arrest for celebrating Mass
By Todd Starnes
The U.S. military has furloughed as many as 50 Catholic chaplains due to the partial suspension of government services, banning them from celebrating weekend Mass. At least one chaplain was told that if he engaged in any ministry activity, he would be subjected to disciplinary action. [Let’s put this in the customary terms liberals always use when in a debate. The First Gay President’s administration wants to HURT people. They are determined to increase pain for the sake of their political agenda. They are gang members in a town they have overrun. They are mafia thugs who shakedown businesses and blackmail people. There. Now liberals will shout “FOUL!” and demand that we turn down the rhetoric and embrace civility, even as they incessantly use terms exactly like that for their opponents.]
“In very practical terms it means Sunday Mass won’t be offered,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services told me. “If someone has a baptism scheduled, it won’t be celebrated.”
The Archdiocese for the Military Services tells me the military installations impacted are served by non-active-duty priests who were hired as government contractors. As a result of a shortage of active duty Catholic chaplains, the government hires contract priests.
Broglio said some military bases have forbidden the contract priests from volunteering to celebrate Mass without pay. [They won’t let them even volunteer, which priests would want to do anyway. This is crazy. The Obama administration is trying to benefit from the pain people will have. This time I am not kidding. That’s what they are doing. They want to make little children cry because they can’t visit the Smithsonian. They want to disappoint elderly veterans. They want to ruin the trips of US citizens who want to visit American military cemeteries overseas where their father is buried. They want to ruin vacations – in a time when the economy is difficult – to national parks. The list goes on.]
“They were told they cannot function because those are contracted services and since there’s no funding they can’t do it – even if they volunteer,” he said. [What if they said they would bring their own candles and not turn on the lights? Is it a matter of the money it costs to open the chapel?]
John Schlageter, general counsel for the archdiocese, said any furloughed priests volunteering their services could face big trouble.
“During the shutdown, it is illegal[?!?] for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so,” he said in a written statement. [This president – according to his own whims – decides which laws he wants to enforce and which not, which interest groups receive his benefice and waivers, and which not. Through the president’s HHS MANDATE Catholics are to be forced to pay for immoral things and then be denied services. I wonder: Are any rabbis or imams being threatened? I’d like to know.]
A well-placed source told me that a furloughed Air Force chaplain was threatened after he offered to forgo pay. The chaplain was told he could not go on base or enter his chapel offices. He was also barred from engaging in any ministry activity.
The source told me the chaplain was told that if he violated those orders he and his supervisor would be subjected to disciplinary action – with the possibility of being fired.
Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, called those developments disturbing.
“Catholic military personnel should not have their religious liberties held hostage by this funding crisis,” Crews told me. “I find it alarming that these priests cannot even volunteer to provide services without threat of arrest.” [Maybe some of these chaplains will go ahead and we’ll get photos of them being dragged off in cuffs, just like Notre Shame did to a priest who protested the bestowal of an honorary degree on this deeply anti-Catholic president.]
The archbishop said a priest at Joint Base Langley-Eustis was banned from officiating at the wedding of a couple he’d been counseling. [A baptism is pretty easy to reschedule. A wedding? Not so much.]
“The wedding could be on the base, [Okay, so it is not a matter of the cost of turning on the lights and AC. It’s about the priest. It’s about forbidding a priest from acting like the priest for Catholic military personnel.] but the priest can’t do the wedding,” Broglio told me.
A priest at the Naval Amphibious Base in Little Creek, Va., was told he could not celebrate Mass on base because of the government shutdown. So he discovered a way to circumvent the ban.
“He’s having Mass in a local park off base,” the archbishop said.
The archbishop said it doesn’t make any sense to forbid priests from voluntarily ministering to the troops.
“Most of us don’t look to see that we’re going to be paid before we do something,” he said. “They are not being allowed to volunteer even to meet the needs of the faithful.”
Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League, told me he’s not surprised by the decision to furlough Catholic priests.
“In American history there has been no administration more anti-Catholic than the Obama administration,” he said. “For them to deny Catholic men and women the opportunity of the sacraments and to deal with their prayerful vocations is really a stunning statement.”
Donohue chalked it up to meanness.
“This idea of punishing Catholics in the military – denying them their priests – is consistent with the animus this administration has demonstrated,” he said.
It’s not exactly clear who is the final arbiter in the furloughs – but I suspect it’s the same folks who kicked school children out of the White House and elderly veterans out of the World War II Memorial.
“It’s difficult to know who exactly is making these decisions,” the archbishop said. “I’m being told it keeps getting kicked up to a higher level.” [Where, again, is the buck supposed to stop? Wait… I know this one… hang on…]
I called the Pentagon but no one returned my calls.
I called the Air Force public affairs office and they told me to reach out to the local bases.
Surely there must be some way to compromise, to let Catholics practice their faith.
[MB] I find it odd that the military was able to find enough cash to let their football teams play this weekend – but they can’t scrounge up enough cash for weekend church services.
“It’s a sad contrast when we can let a football game go on but we won’t let a priest go on base and celebrate Mass,” he said.
So in President Obama’s world – college football players are essential but Catholic priests are not. [Wait just a moment. It only matters when it is on American soil! ]
I saw at Stars and Stripes that the troops over seas won’t be able to follow the football game Pres. Obama thinks is more important than the spiritual well-being of the same military personnel.
However, some key quality-of-life services will be hard hit.
If a shutdown occurs, personnel at AFN’s broadcast center will face mandatory reductions. AFN’s radio services in Europe will continue to broadcast, however, with military personnel standing in for furloughed civilians.
The network’s radio-by-satellite feeds, which can be tuned in using an AFN decoder, will also continue to broadcast, with some modifications. With no sports channel, some football games would instead be carried live on “The Voice,” the network’s news, talk and information radio station.
You might say that this is not really a big deal. I say that if the possibility of the service exists (this isn’t 1970, after all) then people serving the country in the military overseas should have some of these small comforts.
Just watch: This administration will probably move to shut off the internet access of our troops so that they and their families can’t communicate.