US Navy Chaplains: the devil to pay and no pitch hot

I am sure this will inspire men who want to be priests and chaplains in the United States Navy, who are also the chaplains for the Marines.

From The Navy Times with my emphases:

Once the military’s ban on gays serving openly is lifted, Navy chaplains will be permitted to officiate at same-sex marriage and civil union ceremonies on base, according to an April 13 memorandum from the Navy’s head chaplain.

Consistent with the tenets of his or her religious organization, a chaplain may officiate a same-sex, civil marriage: if it is conducted in accordance with a state that permits same-sex marriage or union; and if that chaplain is, according to the applicable state and local laws, otherwise fully certified to officiate that state’s marriages,” the memo signed by Chief of Chaplains Rear Adm. Mark Tidd states. The memorandum, designed to update chaplains’ training guidance for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay members from serving, was posted by the conservative website Media Research Center.

In addition, the memo states that “if the base is located in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, then base facilities may normally be used to celebrate the marriage. This is true for purely religious services (e.g., a chaplain blessing a union) or a traditional wedding (e.g., a chaplain both blessing and conducting the ceremony).”

Navy spokeswoman Lt. Alana Garas said that the new policy guidance was a revision to the repeal training and emphasized that no chaplains will be required to officiate at same-sex messages, if that conflicts with their faith.

The federal Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Responding to questions about the law and the new policy in an email, Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez wrote: “DOMA does not limit the type of religious ceremonies a chaplain may perform in a chapel on a military installation. Chaplains are authorized to perform religious ceremonies consistent with the practices of the chaplain’s faith group in chapels on military installations.”

But conservatives contended this policy violates the Defense of Marriage Act.

“This new guidance from the Navy clearly violates the law,” Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services seapower subcommittee, said in a statement Monday. “While our president may not like this law, it is unbelievable that our Navy would issue guidance that clearly violates this law. While a state may legalize same-sex marriage, federal property and federal employees, like Navy chaplains, should not be used to perform marriages that are not recognized by federal law.”


Didn’t the Obama Administration say that it would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Phil_NL says:

    I’ll limit myself to 6 words:

    elections have consequences, don’t loose them.

  2. ContraMundum says:

    A few years ago, an Orthodox priest in Russia attempted to bless a “gay marriage”. When this was discovered, the icons and other sacred items were removed, then the building was burned. This action by a priest was deemed to have irreparably desecrated the building.

    In a similar spirit, I would prefer Mass to be held on the hood of a Jeep than in a chapel where such things are done.

  3. Gail F says:

    So does that mean that a Muslim chaplain can perform a wedding between a Muslim man who already has a wife and a second woman, as long as it’s a “purely religious ceremony blessing a union” that is not recognized by state law? It would have to be okay under these directives. Give me a break!!!!!

  4. Jordanes says:

    Even worse, these new regulations require: “If the chaplain declines to personally perform the service, then the chaplain must facilitate the request per SECNAVINST 1730.7D.”

    In other words, the Navy will graciously permit a chaplain not to perform homosexual mockeries of marriage, but in such cases the chaplain is required to violate his religious faith and help find a chaplain who is willing to make a perverse mockery of marriage.

    Sorry Navy, but the First Amendment applies even to you.

  5. Henry Edwards says:

    How about a Catholic chaplain providing a Muslim service in extraordinary circumstances such as can be envisioned?

  6. ipadre says:

    The persecution is well under way. Be prepared. Soon chaplains who refuse to perform these pseudo marriages will be disciplined or court marshaled, maybe worse. We must pray for our priests thrown into the midst of the lions.

  7. DarkKnight says:

    This should “facilitate addressing the need for additional Catholic chaplains” rather nicely.

    They have no desire to see Catholic priests in the chaplaincy. They’d prefer to see Unitarians, which is clearly what this memo envisions.

  8. pyrosapien says:

    Servant of God ~ Fr. Vincent Capodanno… Pray for us (after your done rolling over in your grave)

  9. irishgirl says:

    My God-this is awful!
    I know a priest in my diocese who is a Navy chaplain. I hope he doesn’t have to do this!
    I echo the prayer of pyrosapien-Servant of God Father Vincent Capodanno, pray for us!

  10. Before he became First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill is said to have dismissed naval tradition as merely rum, sodomy and the lash. Little did he know…

  11. acroat says:

    Servant of God Fr Vincent Capodanno interceed for us in 2012 to undue the damage and storm the gates of he’ll (aka DC).

  12. Stu says:

    I’m retiring from the Navy just in time.

  13. Dr. Eric says:

    There are so many jokes that could be made from this post. If it weren’t an abomination, I would take the news less seriously. But, given that sodomy is one of the sins that cry to Heaven for vengance, I will not make light of the further creeping of our society into this abomination.

    Kyrie Eleison!

    Hospody Pomyluj!

    Domine Miserere!


  14. Fr. Basil says:

    How many Catholic military chaplains are asked to perform heterosexual marriages of divorced service persons that might be permissible according to civil law but not according to Canon law?

    Do they have to facilitate the performance of such putative marriages by other chaplains, too?

  15. ContraMundum says:

    I was wondering that too, Fr. Basil. I think there is still a difference, in that sodomy violates natural law as well as divine law, but both remain gravely wrong.

  16. Martial Artist says:

    This is thoroughly disgusting, particularly because of the SECNAVINST referenced by Jordanes, above. I certainly hope that commenter is correct about the First Amendment, but I am not sanguine, considering how far this nation has departed from the Rule of Law.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Toepfer, LCDR, USN [ret]
    P.S. @iPadre,
    Just a minor correction, that would be court martialed.

    P.P.S., @Fr. Z, refreshing (and apt) choice of titles for the thread. Bravo Zulu!

  17. BaedaBenedictus says:

    I can just imagine one of these weddings, the happy couple walking down the aisle of the base’s chapel to the strains of the Village People’s “In the Navy.”

  18. catholicmidwest says:

    I give the situation 3 months. Somebody will walk up to a Catholic chaplin and INSIST that he wants to marry his boyfriend, and threaten legal action if the priest refuses.

  19. muckemdanno says:

    Good reason to decline to join the military. Don’t volunteer to serve someone who claims the right to make you do evil.

  20. LarryPGH says:

    Am I missing something in the article? This doesn’t say that chaplains must perform same-sex marriages; rather, if their denomination permits it (which the Church doesn’t), then they may use their facilities to perform the service. Moreover, no chaplain will be forced to perform a ceremony that their denomination prohibits. So, this has no effect on Catholic chaplains — if asked, they’ll say the same thing that they always say when asked to do something outside of Catholic discipline: “sorry, can’t do that. but, you can go to Chaplain Smith if you wish” (assuming that Chaplain Smith is from a denomination that can handle the request).

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    The option turns into the obligation in about 45 minutes when the NYT is watching, Larry. Particularly when it comes to this issue. You’d ought to know that by now.

  22. LarryPGH says:

    Well, I understand your concern, in a cultural sense. However, the problem of dealing with these sorts of issues (multiple religions with respect to the Chaplain Corps) is well-known, and the policy is well-established: a chaplain cannot be required to perform an action that is at odds with his/her religious faith. Therefore, when asked to do something contrary to their faith, they are required to say, “sorry — can’t do that. Chaplain Jones is from your denomination, though, and can take care of that for you”.
    In this case, then, a Catholic chaplain will naturally decline — in fact, if asked to perform a same-sex service for Catholics, it would seem well within his rights to respond, “are you asking me because I’m Catholic or because I’m a chaplain? You could, of course, go to someone else, but you realize that your attempt to marry cannot be recognized by the Catholic Church”…

  23. jflare says:

    While I understand your point, make no mistake that there’s an intent to force chaplains to provide services exactly as troops please. Note that while technically a chaplain may not be required to provide services that the chaplain might find morally bankrupt, he CAN be “punished” in other ways. He may not decline from aiding the service-member in finding a chaplain who WILL provide the service, even if he finds the intent morally reprehensible. Additionally, a chaplain who declines to provide certain “religious” services for certain members may ultimately be denied promotion for somewhat unspecified reasons, or may be strongly encouraged to resign his commission.

    I go provide example after example of originally innocent changes that have been brought about with the “best intentions” of honoring the First Amendment or some other “right”. Too many have been abused to the point that people can easily find themselves in operations environments in which expressing Judeo-Christian ideals can lead detriment.

    I’ve been wondering how far things might go before people begin declining military service. I’d say most of us only tolerate quiet contempt for our values before we decide to quit.
    Sadly, most people, most politicians in particular, won’t acknowledge the possibility that more firmly secularizing the military could ultimately create a threat to national security.

  24. AvantiBev says:

    I never served in the military, but all of the men I knew who did and whom I admired, were both warriors and simultaneously godly men. Perhaps to be so close to death and to have the power to put to death, make a man much more aware of his being made in the image of his Maker. Anyway, upon reading this story and hearing it on the news, I kept thinking of this:

    Build Me a Son
    General Douglas A. MacArthur
    Build me a son, O Lord,
    who will be strong enough to know when he is weak,
    and brave enough to face him self when he is afraid;
    one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat,
    and humble and gentle in victory.

    Build me a son whose wishbone will not be
    where his backbone should be;
    a son who will know Thee- and that
    to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

    Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort,
    but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.
    Here, let him learn to stand up in the storm;
    here, let him team compassion for those who fall.

    Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high;
    a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men;
    one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep;
    one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

    And after all these things are his,
    add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor,
    so that he may always be serious,
    yet never take himself too seriously.

    Give him humility, so that he may always remember
    the simplicity of true greatness,
    the open mind of true wisdom,
    the meekness of true strength.

    Then I, his father, will dare to whisper,
    “I have not lived in vain.”

    poem by the late General Douglas MacArthur.

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