Catholic Military Archdiocese and Chaplains interfered with last Sunday by Pres. Obama’s Administration

Pres. Obama is at war with the Catholic Church.

On NRO, I read this:

Army Silenced Chaplains Last Sunday
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
February 3, 2012 4:58 P.M.

In Catholic churches across the country, parishioners were read letters from the pulpit this weekend from bishops in their diocese about the mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services giving Catholics a year before they’ll be required to start violating their consciences on insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. But not in the Army.

A statement released this afternoon — which happens to be the 67th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Dorchester, on which four chaplains lost their lives – from the Archdiocese for Military Services explains:

On Thursday, January 26, Archbishop Broglio emailed a pastoral letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it be read from the pulpit at Sunday Masses the following weekend in all military chapels. The letter calls on Catholics to resist the policy initiative, recently affirmed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, for federally mandated health insurance covering sterilization, abortifacients and contraception, because it represents a violation of the freedom of religion recognized by the U.S. Constitution.

The Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains subsequently sent an email to senior chaplains advising them that the Archbishop’s letter was not coordinated with that office and asked that it not be read from the pulpit. The Chief’s office directed that the letter was to be mentioned in the Mass announcements and distributed in printed form in the back of the chapel.

Archbishop Broglio and the Archdiocese stand firm in the belief, based on legal precedent, that such a directive from the Army constituted a violation of his Constitutionally-protected right of free speech and the free exercise of religion, as well as those same rights of all military chaplains and their congregants.

Following a discussion between Archbishop Broglio and the Secretary of the Army, The Honorable John McHugh, it was agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the Archbishop’s letter. Additionally, the line: “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law” was removed by Archbishop Broglio at the suggestion of Secretary McHugh over the concern that it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience.

The AMS did not receive any objections to the reading of Archbishop Broglio’s statement from the other branches of service. [Just the Army.]

So not only were chaplains told not to read the letter, but an Obama administration official edited a pastoral letter . . . with church buy-in?

Didn’t people flee across an ocean-sized pond to be free of this kind of thing?

Lopez also had an update:

An update on the silencing of the chaplains post from earlier: A spokesman for the Army tells National Review Online:

the Army became aware of the Archbishop’s letter last Friday (Jan. 27) and was concerned that the letter contained language that might be misunderstood in a military setting. The Army asked that the letter not be read from the pulpit. Instead, the letter would have been referenced in announcements and made available in the back of the chapel for the faithful, if they wished, as they departed after the Mass. The Army greatly appreciates the Archbishop’s consideration of the military’s perspective and is satisfied with the resolution upon which they agreed.

I’ll grant that a call to disobedience in the military is not good.

However, why just the Army?

What is there about the Army’s culture that is different?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Dogs and Fleas, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, Religious Liberty, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Imrahil says:

    the line: “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law” was removed […] over the concern that it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience.

    It is a call to civil disobedience.
    Anyway, why should not a soldier be civilly disobedient to an unjust law? The unjust law is, at the moment, a civil law, not an order, and as such not of interest to military discipline. And even if for some reason, a superior would choose to enact it as a military order, then the rules regarding “obedience to a sin” are the same for soldiers as for civilians (as I being a German ought well to remember), and I consider it nearly always good to be frank from the beginning, even about that.

  2. AGA says:

    What about the Army culture is different?

    The Army is the liberal branch of the military.

    The USAF is highly evangelical. The Marines are very conservative (and the most Catholic service). The Navy is the most traditional.

    The Army is, and has always been, full of statists and lefties. Whenever a presidential administration introduces a new liberal concept for the military to adopt, the Army not only goes with it, but they double down and go to an extreme.

    The Army was full of commies in the 30s and 40s, and things haven’t changed much since then.

    –from an Army officer with 16 years of service and counting!

  3. rcg says:

    AGA is exactly right. The Army is the physical manifestation of the Progressive State. It is the most political branch and is American Imperialism incarnate. Look at how many of their senior officers retire to pursue political or other government careers. The missions of the branches show the difference, as well. The other branches have the mission to project American power then leave; hit it and get it, essentially. The Army mission is to gain and hold terrain. Foreign entanglements. Even the SOF have been converted to Civil Affairs, spending most of their time trying to win hearts and minds. Generals and admirals are all politicians and the Army are the best, going away. I worked for two that went on to be CJoS and they were very staunch supporters of liberal causes.

  4. Stu says:

    I’ll disagree with the above a bit.

    There is a saying at the Pentagon regarding the “3 D’s of the Department of Defense.”

    The Air Force is DEVIOUS.
    The Navy/Marine Corps are DEFIANT.
    The Army is DUMB.

    What they refer to is the service cultures that have been present in each service.

    The Air Force, being the youngest service, is always out to prove its worth. Accordingly, they are often taking action to raise their own stature and forward the Air Force agenda. Think ideas like “Air Power alone is all we need.”

    The Navy/Marine Corps culture traditionally has been one of being deployed at great distances for extended periods of time free from involvement from senior leadership. This has created an independent streak within the culture that it often defiant of orders.

    The Army has been there from the start. She is America’s loyal son and will do what has been tasked no matter what. Thus the label “Dumb” which admittedly isn’t the best label but you get the idea and I suppose it was picked simply to match with the other “D’s.”

  5. SKAY says:


    If you read Fr Z/s post –the term Dumb does fit.(Of course, I am not talking about the wonderful young men and women and their families who have joined and are serving).
    We were a military family for 20 years—Navy.

    The actual problem is the Commander in Chief sitting in the oval office at the moment that a majority of Catholics(51-54%) voted to put him there. If he is re-elected for four more years we will not recognize the country we were born in.
    Obama said in an interview in the early 90’s that he has a problem with the Constitution as written and he talked about what HE thought was wrong with it.
    He was not running for President at the time and it was not a national interview so he was actually telling the truth about his views.

  6. disco says:

    Looks like Obama has turned that wall between church and state that Thomas Jefferson spoke of into a rampart from atop which he and his godless minions may hurl all this slings and arrows they please.

    Attacking the church’s right to free expression in the public forum is bad enough but to actively regulate what gets spoken from the pulpit at mass? That’s unbelieveable. Can you imagine what the ACLU would say if the Archbishop of Washington made edits to the state of the union?

  7. chcrix says:

    I had never considered this issue before.

    There is a possibility that this situation indicates that the Church has a ‘nuclear option’ in dealing with the U.S. Federal Government.

    That option? Withdraw all chaplains from the armed services. THAT would send a real message.

  8. Supertradmum says:


    That is not an option. Men and women in all branches of the military need the Mass and the Sacraments and there is already a shortage of military priests. To abandon Catholics in the military would be immoral. And, the government wants that to happen. Already, there have been efforts to minimize the ability of priests to minister. Do not wish this.

    How would you like to be on the front lines without Confession and the Last Sacrament if you were dying?

  9. Stu says:


    My slight disagreement was with the responses that characterized the Army as being overly progressive or communist, not with Father Z nor the article.


  10. Papabile says:

    The language of “will not — comply” is what caused the problem, particularly with respect to several articles of the UCMJ, least not Article 92.

    I am not defending the Army on this, I just know that this is how they think. It must have made McHugh, who I actually know, feel very uncomfortable.

    I am quite sure this ultimately must have come from SECARMY General Counsel and probably in consulutation with OSD Policy.

  11. Supertradmum says:


    apologies for misspelling your name above.

  12. EXCHIEF says:

    While I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the young men and women who volunteer as members of our armed forces I do not have the same respect for many of the military’s so-called “leaders”. They, like too many in our society, have replaced principles with political correctness.

    Members of the armed forces serve based on many needs…one of which is to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Over the past several years I have wondered just how long the military as an institution will continue to allow the trampling of the Constitution that occurs almost daily by the current commander in chief. If Sotero is left unchecked by the SCOTUS, which is just about the only entity that can reign in his unconstitutional decisions and actions, I wonder if the military will reach the point of refusing to cooperative in Sotero’s pursuit of intrinsic evil. That is a worst case scenario but it may come to happen.

  13. cwillia1 says:

    “We will not comply” is not a call to civil disobedience. To begin with these regulations haven’t taken effect. Secondly, soldiers do not typically employ people. Non-compliance does not necessarily mean violation of the regulation. The archbishop’s statement is however political. There are times when the faith has political consequences. But the army is obviously uncomfortable with Catholic leaders responding to a direct attack on Catholics perpetrated by the Obama Administration.

  14. mike cliffson says:

    Mit Brennender Sorge
    cf circumstances, translation and distribution.

  15. mibethda says:

    The claim that the language in the letter might be interpreted as a call to the soldiers to civil disobedience is beyond bizarre. The regulations of HHS which the letter states that “we will not – comply with” are directed toward employers’ actions, and mandate compliance by those employers in providing certain ‘health care’ coverages. They in no way implicate conduct open to the soldiers, and disobeying the mandate of the regulations is simply not within the ambit of actions or potential actions available to the soldiers. Actions of disobeying the mandates can only be within the sphere of an entity which is required to provide the coverages. The statement could only be interpreted reasonably as a declaration that the Church – and its various entities to whom the mandates apply – will not comply with what is an unjust, and potentially illegal, regulation. Only an exceedingly dense exemplar of military intelligence would interpret the language in the manner of the Secretary of the Army.

  16. I agree the chaplains should not be withdrawn. But what can be done is to do the following:

    1. The Archbishop for the military should send another letter, to be read at all Masses next weekend by the chaplain: “By order of the government, I am forbidden from speaking my mind–and the mind of our Church–on an important matter facing us.”

    2. The bishops in the U.S. should all protest this additional assault on religious freedom–very publicly. It’s all of a piece. Double down.

    3. The bishops should say to the faithful, “in sorrow, not anger,” that the army is becoming a hostile environment for Catholics.

    I am not sure what percentage of the army is Catholic, but no doubt it is substantial; a friend told me even a majority. In any case, I am very sure many Americans will be alarmed if enlistment suffers and wonder about a devotion to contraception and abortion–on the part of our President–that now jeopardizes our military readiness.

    Pray for our bishops; they’ve never had to wage a fight like this. They need to FIGHT. Dagger John, pray for us!

  17. I am a member of the US Army Chaplain Corps. The Army Chief of Chaplains is a Roman Catholic Priest.

  18. JMody says:

    There are problems all around, here.

    First, as a former officer, the devious/defiant/dumb characterization is far more accurate than the Commie description. What DOES happen in the military is that people get trained to think in terms of unit cohesion, esprit, unity of command, etc., which are all valuable traits in a military setting but are diametrically opposite to ideas like liberty and self-determination — so YES, they do tend to see statist solutions as normal/appropriate. Second, all the service at the general/admiral level are very very political. Folks reach that rank by Congressional selection. With a liberal streak in the Senate for the last few decades, the ones who see the statist solution as “good” do tend to get promoted. And yes, they do play along with social experiments far too much.

    BUT THE LETTER is quite interesting. The law in question governs the provision of health care insurance at employer/employee expense — I must provide my employees with insurance that covers abortion with no conscience clause. Well, that DOESN’T APPLY to the MILITARY!!! Their “insurance” comes from the Pentagon. The civilian employees also get covered by government insurance. So yes, the inflammatory language is there, but nobody attending Mass at a chapel is likely to be affected by it.

    If the Secretary had specifically said “Read the letter except that sentence, make printed copies available, and explain how this affects private insurance and not DOD healthcare insurance, so as to PRESERVE GOOD ORDER AND DISCIPLINE”, this would be far more palatable.

    But that’s what we get when we have political hacks instead of people with well-formed consciences and a true love of their country and their fellow man in positions of great authority.

    Our Lady of Victory, please help us, especially the Secretary, the Archbishop, and the President.

  19. robtbrown says:

    Papabile says:

    The language of “will not — comply” is what caused the problem, particularly with respect to several articles of the UCMJ, least not Article 92.

    That sounds as if you’re endorsing the Nuremberg defense. NB: The Army Chief of Chaplains is a Catholic priest.

    I am not defending the Army on this, I just know that this is how they think. It must have made McHugh, who I actually know, feel very uncomfortable.

    So? Who cares? As a matter of fact, I would be glad if it made him uncomfortable. And I have to wonder what this portends for any Chaplain (likely not a Presby or Methodist) preaching on homosexuality as a sin.

  20. robtbrown says:


    BUT THE LETTER is quite interesting. The law in question governs the provision of health care insurance at employer/employee expense — I must provide my employees with insurance that covers abortion with no conscience clause. Well, that DOESN’T APPLY to the MILITARY!!! Their “insurance” comes from the Pentagon. The civilian employees also get covered by government insurance. So yes, the inflammatory language is there, but nobody attending Mass at a chapel is likely to be affected by it.

    Mostly, I disagree.

    1. Although there are medical facilities on most military installations, they are usually inadequate. Therefore, Tri-Care, which is not free, is often used by active duty and retired military personnel.

    2. Tri-Care has contracts with regional providers, who are private.

    3. One alternative would be for military personnel (or civil servants) objecting to the abortion/abortofacient coverage to buy their own health insurance. This, however, would be more expensive and would be covered by federal statutes prohibiting discrimination acc to religion.

    4. A further question must be asked: Does Obamacare mandate that all military health care for active duty or ret personnel must cover abortion services?

  21. wmeyer says:

    I can appreciate the problems with “will not comply” and the UCMJ. I can appreciate, as well, that the Army Chief of Chaplains felt bound to intercede. However, the issues I see are a) the archbishop, as I understand it is the ordinary for the diocese of the military, which comprises all branches of service, and b) at a point of conflict, the Army Chief of Chaplains chose obedience to military (secular) law over obedience to his ordinary. One must assume that the archbishop, having been given the military diocese, would have acquainted himself with the UCMJ. One might therefore infer that he was not ignorant, but issued his letter with full intent, and thorough understanding of the conflict.

    It may even be that the archbishop is satisfied with the action of the Army Chief, which may have served, and may continue to serve, to focus much more attention on the issue than his obedience might have done. After all, we are hearing of the other branches only in the context of the order by the Army Chief of Chaplains.

    There are many issues with the HHS ruling which are straightforward–I suggest this is not among them.

  22. Speravi says:

    The whole point of having something read from the pulpit is so that EVERYONE present hears it. It is not the same to have it in the back of the church for those who desire to hear it.

  23. chcrix says:

    “To abandon Catholics in the military would be immoral. And, the government wants that to happen.”

    I did call it the nuclear option – a last resort. But, I think it would be an effective one – the strongest form of discouraging the young Catholic population from enlisting. This would be a substantial blow. And their excellencies should consider all the ramifications of this before the Church is so compromised that they feel they dare not do it or that nobody would care. And in your own formulation, Catholics (or at least their moral opinions) are already unwanted. There is no reason to support a state apparatus that is attempting to destroy one’s religion.

    I rather like Fr. Martin Fox’ idea of having the bishops say “that the army is becoming a hostile environment for Catholics ” as a warning shot across their bow (I prefer naval analogies.)

  24. LisaP. says:

    How about a different nuclear option — the priest obeys the Church and reads the announcement as is, thereby disobeying his commanding officer and incurring court martial. MPs taking the priest away from the pulpit? It seems to me that the situation has forced disobedience on the chaplains, and the only choice left to them is who they will disobey.

    Alternatively, because as a bishop I wouldn’t want to make imprisonment a condition of obedience for my priests, if I could help it, the bishop himself could come to Mass and read the announcement in full.

    In any case, I usually avoid comparisons to Nazis and Communists because it’s too easy a metaphor to misuse, but this sure sounds a lot like the beginnings of the official alternate Chinese Catholic Church. However it can be done, this needs to be stopped early.

  25. unsilenced says:

    As I write this post and read the other comments I am reminded of the recent poll asking people why didn’t they post comments.

    “The Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains ”

    So, because one person said this or did this, we are now saying it was the “Obama Administration”? I think language like that makes it sound like the President himself made the decision. I am against the rule, and I don’t understand how even from a political standpoint it could be beneficial to not allow religious organizations to have an exemption from it. That said, I think we have to be fair in language. I greatly respect Fr. Z, but I don’t think there is a war agains the Church or anything like that. I think there are differences in policies that to Catholics are fundamental believes and to politicians they are just policy issues. But i don’t believe there is a concerted attack on the Church. [I think that is naïve, or at least overly optimistic.]

    I think that when we are attacked we tend to use language to make the attack or the affront more obvious to others.

    Can I ask people that disagree with me to not attack me? ;-) thanks!

  26. albinus1 says:

    Actually, chcrix and Supertradmum, the real “nuclear option” would be for the bishops to declare that serving in the US military is no longer compatible with being a good Catholic.

    We’re not nearly there yet, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I live to see it.

  27. wmeyer says:

    LisaP, I had the same thought about the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church after I made my last post.

    Albinus1, To declare that serving in the military is no longer compatible with being a good Catholic would fly in the face of Church teaching, which recognizes the responsibilities of citizenship, as well as the need for just war as a last resort.

  28. letchitsa1 says:

    Cherix –

    One thing to bear in mind, too, is that if the military does not get enough volunteers – there’s always the draft.

    That said – it is interesting that the Army was the only branch of service that barred that letter being read. I have my theories as to why, and they do not disagree greatly with the cultural observations of some of the folks who have already posted.

  29. Pavegs says:

    Several people have noted that the Army Chief of Chaplains is a priest, this is true. In fact I know him and he happens to be a self professed liberal priest. There has always been tension between AMS and the actual chaplains in the Army, specifically in regard to authority. I am a Chaplain Candidate in the Army, and my experience over the last five years has been that many of the priests in the Chaplain Corps, certainly not all (there are many wonderful Priest Chaplains), are at least theologically heterodox, and often have issues with Church authority.

    On another note. Directives that come from the Chief of Chaplain’s Office are not really orders, as Chaplains do not have command authority. If a priest were to read the letter despite the “order” he would not have to worry about court martial. He would not necessarily be treated well by the senior chaplains, but he would be within his rights. ONLY the endorser, in this case the AMS, has authority to regulae what is said from the pulpit.

    I have become increasingly disapointed with the Chaplain Corps and the Army in general. My only reason for remaining is because soldiers need priests.

  30. Pavegs says:

    If I were the AMS I would at least threaten to pull CH Rutherford’s endorsment.

  31. AGA says:

    A close friend of mine is in contact with the person who broke the story to K-LO. I knew about this whole thing 24 hours before the story breaking to the public.

    I found out several hours ago that that person, who passed the story to K-LO, woke up this morning to find a pentagram on her front door. Her house being on a military installation, she immediately called the MPs.

    Also of note, some chaplains did disobey the chaplain hierarchy (It’s not proper to term it a “chain of command.” Chaplains don’t command anything. Chaplains are part of the “special staff” of a commanding officer (starting at the battalion level). Chaplains are commanded by that officer, not by the priest wearing two-stars at the pentagon.) Out of prudence I won’t mention names and places, but the letter was read in its entirety by some brave souls.

  32. SKAY says:

    Lisa P–
    I also agree with your comment about the Chinese Catholic Church.
    After reading Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas–I began to understand what happened in Germany between WWI and WWII. The National Socialist Party(Nazis) used the Lutheran Church just as the Communists are doing in China. The book is about those who fought against the evil that took over their country–little by little –and then swallowed it.
    This attack on the Church at this time is not an accident. A church that does not agree with the idiology of this administration must be changed–by using government and ignoring the Constitution.
    If we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.

    [Click HERE for the book on Bonhoeffer.]


  33. AnnAsher says:

    At Military Chapel where my husband participates in Mass the Arch Bishop’s letter was read.

  34. AnnAsher says:

    Also, I have said before and I will say again that there is need for an Order of priests to serve the military without being subjected to military authority. Ie: not soldiers themselves.

  35. Papabile says:


    Perhaps you would re-read my comment. I was defending nothing. I was making a factual statement viz the “will not comply” language. I confirmed that this afternoon through a friend in General Counsel’s office.

    I wasn’t suggesting thee Bishop follow this, or the Secretary, at all. I am more of the mind that the Bishop should have put his Priests under a precept of obedience to read exactly what he wrote.

    But instead, rather than reading my comments from a straightforward perspective, you shoot from the hip and make an ass of yourself suggesting that I sound like I “am endorsing the Nuremburg defense.”

    I have served this country as an infantryman, worked for the Church at thee NCCB, and worked in the political sphere for over 20 years. I am insulted, and that’s a first for me on this blog.

    In another era, I would suggest we meet face to face. I would enjoy that.


  37. jflare says:

    Having been a military officer myself for over 8 years, I’m pretty bewildered with the Army’s rationale on this. I served in the Air Force, but one of my tours happened on an Army post, so I’ve been acquainted with both. Pardon my language if you would, but how in HELL can anyone at the Pentagon–or anywhere else–construe a comment about “we cannot and will not comply with this directive” as a call for active military disobedience????

    Don’t you need to have something in relevant to disobey ABOUT?

    So far as I’m aware, the issue at hand from DHHS deals with whether Catholic health institutions–including insurers–will be required to offer contraceptive, abortive, and sterilizing services and/or benefits to those they serve.
    Well, I can’t remember any time I ever saw a CATHOLIC hospital on a military installation, nor do I recall any CATHOLIC health insurance available by means of military contracts. In other words, I can’t understand how “we won’t comply” could be construed as anything even remotely relevant to military concerns.
    I saw and heard many things in the Armed Forces I didn’t like much. One of them was precisely that the overall structure was rather TOO secular.
    Military medical facilities won’t care that much about what Catholic facilities will tolerate; TRICARE administrators couldn’t care less about what Catholic insurers might say. Both of those will be under the command of someone at the Pentagon, or at least in the most closely affiliated command center that’s appropriate. (Dislike it if you wish, but the Pentagon literally doesn’t have enough office space to handle all the needs we have/had. Heck, what do you expect? We built the thing for World War II needs, not for 2012!)

    I can see perhaps where we might have some concerns if a whole horde of military troops decide they want to be ensured via Catholic providers, but really, if they did so, it would only mean that TRICARE would have that many fewer a number of people to be concerned about. ….How the dickens would that be a BAD thing????

    On the whole, this sounds to me more like a convenient excuse for why the Army shouldn’t follow common sense. the way, don’t get me started down that road! I learned that the Air Force has PLENTY of insanity too!

  38. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    Does no one here remember the back and forth about the USCCB letter about “Just War” and Nuclear Weapons? The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response A Pastoral Letter on War and Peace by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops May 3, 1983.

    I was a young NCO at the time, but it was a big deal. There was discussions about whether it could be even distributed through the Chaplaincy at mass, or in the parish bulletins. For those of us that had “nuclear” or nuclear related duties is was not just another academic exercise, we serving had some hard questions that we asked our chaplains, and did more than a few minutes of prayer and discernment.

    The media was really playing it up, and there were those in various levels of elected offices that encouraged or praised the USCCB for it. Unlike now, were there is out-right interference and hostility from the same sources.

  39. S. Murphy says:

    The Army has its politically correct element. You can see it in the Jessica Lynch story – they were in such a hurry to present a female Rambo (Ramba?) that they didn’t check the facts first. They put female MPs on foot patrols outside the wire, where they take fire and respond like Soldiers, but their chain of command has broken the law by putting them there, because they’re trying to get that law challenged.(Maybe it should be – but civil disobedience is for civilians. Write a point papoer and submit up the chain. Write an article in your service’s professional journal.) They have general officers whining on NPR that they’d have a better chance of pinning on more stars, if only females weren’t barred from commanding infantry battalions…

    Tell you what, Ma’am:
    1. Equal opportunity actually ends when you get your MOS. There are plenty of men that are also ‘screwed over’ by being assigned, per the needs to the service, as logistians, communicators, intel geeks, etc.
    2. If you’ve reached a rank at which you can retire, you’ve had a successful career, which you’ve largely earned by working hard – but it also came from being in the right place at the right time, having good mentors, and other factors beyond your control. Some of your peers from entry-level training who didn’t get as far, were equally deserving in terms of hard work and talent, but they didn’t have a good mentor when it counted, or because there were only so many boatspaces for promotion. Some of them were male. Some of them were grunts. If you had been a grunt, that could’ve been you, because of opportunities within the MOS.
    3. You have a duty to serve, not a right. Nobody has a right to a career in the military. You serve at the pleasure of the president. That is all.

  40. Richard W Comerford says:

    Re: Catholic Military Service

    Prior to Constantine service in the Roman Legions was reserved to Roman citizens who were also obliged to sacrifice to the Emperor, publicly adore their military standards and participate in secret, pagan religious rituals. Christians (like Jews) who were citizens but wished to avoid these complications of Legionary service instead served in confessional Auxiliary Cohorts.

    During the American Civil War most of the State fighting regiments were recruited on either a territorial, ethnic, language, confessional basis or a combination of the foregoing factors. The Catholic Bishops, both North and South, encouraged the formation of Catholic regiments (Several of which, German speaking, were very ably commanded by a German Marxist).

    During the Spanish American War, although about 1/3 of the enlisted personal were Catholic. However the number of State militia units that were identifiable Catholic shrunk. In the subsequent (and very bloody) Philippines Insurrection separate, identifiable American Catholic Militia (National Guard) units disappeared. Perhaps in part because the President’s announced that the reason for the American occupation was to bring Christianity to the overwhelming Catholic Philippines.

    The American Bishops made no effort to preserve the identity of Catholic Militia or National Guard units during WW I. Although several units deployed overseas as defacto Catholic (The “Fighting 69th”, the 26 Infantry Division) their numerous replacements were usually neither Catholic nor from their home States of origin.

    During WW II, although some American units were composed and deployed based on ethnicity and gender (“WAC”, “Negro”, Eskimo Scouts, Samoan, Japanese, Native American, etc), there were no distinctively Catholic units either by accident or design. But our Bishops deployed a very impressive Chaplains’ Corps. (Famously, on Guadalcanal when a Minister approached Chesty Puller with the warning that Catholic Chaplain’s were “stealing our boys”, Puller dismissed the complaint with the observation that the Catholic Bishops sent their “best” and most “virile” men to serve the Marines. BTW the real hero in the “Saving Private Ryan” story was a Catholic Paratroop Chaplain.)

    Since WW II the number of Catholic Chaplains per capita has decreased dramatically and the Sacraments can be very hard to find for Catholic soldiers.

    I thank God for all the Catholic Chaplains, particularly the ones stupid enough to jump out of perfectly good airplanes with their flocks, who served.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  41. robtbrown says:


    It sounds as if you’re unaware of what exactly is the Nuremberg Defense. I suggest you look into it.

    1. I would have no problem with meeting you face to face.

    2. I also am a veteran and received an appointment to West Point, which I turned down (6 fellow seniors at my high school accepted theirs, one of whom, my best friend, was killed in VN in 1971). Mine came when I was at USMAPS (West Point Prep School). One of my football teammates at Prep School became a LTG and was on TV from Ft Hood (he was the CG) the Sunday of the Saddam Hussein capture.

    3. I regularly see lots of ret Army officers. In fact, just saw a friend who’s a ret LTG, a former infantry officer who was later Dep Commander of All US Forces in Europe. Almost daily I see two Medal of Honor recipients, one the first recipient from the VN war–both retired officers. And my bro is law is a ret LTC (Airborne Inf, Ranger, Green Beret–3 tours in VN) and former buddy of David Hackworth.

    4. I admit that, with certain exceptions, I have little regard for the work of the bishops (even though I have old friends who now wear the mitre). They have spent far too much energy trying to maintain good relations with pro abortion politicians. IMHO, Cardinal Wuerl’s policy of giving Communion to them is every bit as effective as a making a hole in water. And I think Kathleen Sebelius should have been excommunicated some time ago.

  42. S. Murphy says:

    Unsilenced has a fair point about the Army Chief of Chaplains not quite = the Administration. Since the corresponding Navy & Air Force offices didn’t see it that way, it’s hard to say that the Army was following OSD or White House guidance. OTOH, that the padre was reading the writing on the wall – responding to the command climate set by the administration and by the service culture, as described by AGA, Stu, jmody, etc.
    The Bush admin set a command climate that led to abu Ghraib; Obama’s backing of Sebelius set a command climate wherein the Army Ch of Chaplains thinks either: he can get away with tweaking his bishop’s nose, or, he has to walk on eggshells to protect his fellow priests and the chaplaincy.

  43. robtbrown says:

    Sandra in Severn,

    The circumstances around that W & P Pastoral are fascinating. In fact, one of the earlier drafts received more circulation than the final document. Although certain liberals tried to portray the changes as having been ordered by the Vatican, it was the German bishops who objected–they understood the importance of nukes in Western Europe defense against the Soviets.

    BTW, I had a seminar on the W&P letter at the Angelicum. The prof, a German, didn’t think much of the document–even with the changes. He thought its attitude toward nukes was sensationalistic because we have non nukes more destructive than some of the low yield nukes. And of course we had bombs that blow up nothing but send out an Electromagnetic Pulse that will blow out every electrical circuit over a massive area.

  44. robtbrown says:

    S. Murphy says:

    The Bush admin set a command climate that led to abu Ghraib;

    Yep, a big thank you Ron Dumsfeld–and to Bush43 for hiring and keeping him.

  45. AlexandraNW says:

    SKAY – thank you for the mention of “Bonhoeffer” by Eric Metaxas. I have just ordered a copy. I have been wanting to do some reading on how the Nazis perpetrated their takeover. We are increasingly allowing the Constitution to be violated on spurious grounds… and I use the word “allowing” on purpose. I regret I don’t have the link handy, but John Pistole has been quoted as saying that the only reason the TSA goes as far as it does is because Americans allow it. I see the insurance coverage requirement, followed by the attempted suppression of the reading of the Bishop’s letter by chaplains, to be merely the latest move to exert control. I fly a lot these days and am acutely aware of the abundance of blue-shirted enforcers who will soon be present at every train platform and bus terminal. One distinctive of the USA has always been the liberty it affords to religious and ethnic groups willing to live under the rule of law to become Americans, while still practicing their religion and honoring their conscience. This liberty has included the freedom to travel throughout the country without showing ID at borders. I agree with those who say we need to promptly use the rights we have left to put a stop to all this. Please: let’s all be sure to vote in Novenber!

  46. JMody says:


    it is my understanding – and I may be wrong – that Tri-Care is a single source “private insurance veneer” over what used to be DOD healthcare. Be that as it may, let’s say I’m wrong — if a servicemember goes to buy his/her own insurance, where will he find a policy exempt from these requirements? He won’t, and so the net effect is the same.

    And yes, it did cover birth-control pills in all forms except Plan B — when I left active duty in ’96.

  47. Papabile says:


    1. Perhaps you missed what I was saying. I am not sure how, but I will repeat it. “will not comply” was the problem the Army had with the language.

    2. I am NOT defending the response of the Archbishop of Military Service, or the Army’s order. I was stating a fact. Nothing more. My comments were not advocating anything approaching a Nuremburg Defense. I have no idea where you get that from.

    3. I agree with you on the Bishops, Wuerl’s policy, and Sebelius.

  48. Philmont237 says:

    What a lot of people do not realize is that there are two seperate oaths given to our servicemen. The first is the oath of enlistment which is taken by all enlisted servicemen:
    “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God. ”
    The second is the oath of office which is taken by commissioned officers:
    “I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

    Notice how the oath of office does not contain clauses stating that the officer will obey the orders of the President, any superior officers, or the UCMJ? That is because officers have one loyalty which is the Constitution of the United States. In fact, officers have a DUTY TO DISOBEY any all all unlawful orders that may go against the Constitution of against the Law of Armed Conflict. Catholic military chaplains are priests as well as officers. Not only do they take the oath of office but they make a promise of obedience to the Archbishop of the Military Archdiocese. The Archbishop ordered priests to read the letter. The chaplains’ promise of obedience is a higher law than the gag order by the Chief of Chaplains even though he is a two-star general because his order causes the chaplains to not “faithfully discharge the duties of their office.” These Army chaplains have a duty to their bishop and their oath to read the Archbishop’s letter, and from what I heard many disobeyed the order and did.
    Kudos to these good priests, good officers, and great Americans. They put the Constitution and their duty to their archbishop first! I am no chaplain, but I am an Air Force officer, and I would have done the same.
    It is hard to keep my oath when the domestic enemy who is attacking the Consitution is my commander-in-chief. I gladly obey his lawful orders but I have a duty to speak out when his orders are not lawful and go directly against that which I am sworn to protect. Come January 20, I hope we have a new chief executive sworn in, one who will take his own oath the protect the Constition seriously.

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