Catholic military chaplains face ARREST during Obama’s Government Shutdown

During the Obama Shutdown, Catholic military chaplains who say Mass, marry, bury or baptize face arrest.

From Catholic Vote:


Our government is out of control.

First, it was the World War II veterans who had to break down barriers to see the open air, un-attended memorial erected in their honor.  A memorial which is on public land but is supported – including the National Park Service fee – with private funds. This week there was more security surrounding this memorial — just to keep elderly veterans out — than there was at our embassy in Benghazi the night it was attacked.

And for what? To inflict as much pain as possible through this government shutdown. It’s called Washington Monument Syndrome, and it’s pure political theater.

But now there’s a story just coming to light that takes things even further. According the Archdiocese for Military Services, GS and contract priests (who are paid by the federal government as independent contractors in places where there aren’t enough active-duty priests to meet the needs of Catholics in military service) are being forbidden from celebrating Mass, even on a volunteer basis.

If they violate this restriction, they face possible arrest. FOR CELEBRATING MASS. 

From John Schlageter, General Counsel for the Archdiocese:

There is a chronic shortage of active duty Catholic chaplains. While roughly 25% of the military is Catholic, Catholic priests make up only about 8% of the chaplain corps. That means approximately 275,000 men and women in uniform, and their families, are served by only 234 active-duty priests.  The temporary solution to this shortage is to provide GS and contract priests.   These men are employed by the government to ensure that a priest is available when an active duty Catholic Chaplain is not present.  With the government shutdown, GS and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer.  During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.

As an example, if a Catholic family has a Baptism scheduled at the base chapel at Langley AFB this weekend, unless they can locate a priest who is not a GS or contract priest, they should consider it cancelled.   Likewise, a Marine who attends Sunday Mass at the Quantico Chapel will have to go elsewhere this weekend.  If you are a Catholic stationed in Japan or Korea and are served by a Contract or GS priest, unless you speak Korean or Japanese and can find a church nearby, then you have no choice but to go without Mass this weekend.  Until the Federal Government resumes normal operations, or an exemption is granted to contract or GS priests, Catholic services are indefinitely suspended at those worldwide installations served by contract and GS priests.

At a time when the military is considering alternative sources of funding for sporting events at the service academies, no one seems to be looking for funding to ensure the Free Exercise rights of Catholics in uniform. Why not?

This shutdown impacts Catholics in the military worldwide. In the DC-metro area, it specifically impacts bases like Quantico. On the Facebook page for the Archdiocese, Catholic military members commenting on the story are not happy. Comments include:

“This is outrageous!!! Especially threatening them with arrest to voluntarily do their job.”

“Unbelievable! I was worried about this because our priest is contracted as well. It is bad enough to be furloughed but to not have a Mass to attend, is a real downer,”

“Just one example, a couple is getting married tomorrow at a large Air Force Base that is staffed by a Contract priest. That priest did all of their marriage prep, and has gotten to know the couple very well over the past few months. But with the shutdown, he cannot perform their wedding. Instead of the priest that the couple has come to know and love, an active duty priest has to be sent in to perform the wedding of two people who are strangers to him and he to them.”

” Is anyone up there going to start a protest?! A rosary ?!?!? A nice Catholic riot maybe?! PLEEEAAASSEEE?! SOMEONE?! ANYONE?! Any real Carholics out there?!!!!???!”

This is outrageous. It is a violation of the First Amendment. It is a prohibition of the free exercise of religion to order priests under penalty of arrest that they cannot volunteer their time to offer Mass to the faithful on base. This cannot be allowed to stand.


Read the rest there… and get angry.

What do you want to bet that The First Gay President, the Granter of Waivers, the Selective Upholder, would take time of campaigning to grant a chaplain – even during his Shutdown – to marry two men.

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49 Responses to Catholic military chaplains face ARREST during Obama’s Government Shutdown

  1. Chrissin says:

    GS and contract priests are paid by the fed govt? I don’t know what GS or contract means- but priests are paid by the fed govt??? That’s what I find shocking in this article. When did our Catholic priests become employees of the fed govt? I don’t understand. I was equally shocked to learn just a few months ago that the USCCB gets millions$$$ from the govt. Not to mention ‘C’atholic Charities (I call them not-so-catholic charities) which receives at least half of its operating expenses from the fed govt.
    I’m just sayin’……

  2. Johnno says:

    There is no American ‘government.’ There are only two rival gangs working for shadow kings to whom the people are serfs that at least get to pick the face of the man they can stare at who shall deliver unto them the decisions made by the globalist gangs against their consent. The State is your mother. You wouldn’t speak badly about your mother who provides for you would you? She brought you into this world, and she can take you out of it. It’s her choice! Not yours.

    This ‘shutdown’ is an attempt to coerce you to believe in how much you depend on government to do anything. It’s their sacramental day of rest. Thou shalt not violate the Government Sabbath! The Pharoah shall not let the people go to worship their God. He needs them to work! All that healthcare ain’t gonna be free you know!

  3. Frank_Bearer says:

    Before we start hyperventilating, just how many non-active-duty priests serving as government contractors are there?

  4. TraditionalCatholicGirl says:

    Shame shame SHAME on the US government! This is a complete violation of the First Amendment. God have mercy on us and our nation. We are spiraling out of control, and at a breakneck pace.

    How can the goverment claim to arrest a priest- a man consecrated and ordained in the service of god, just for saying mass on his own time and dime? And since when were these priests paid by the government?!

    George Orwell couldn’t have gotten it more right when he wrote the novel 1984. Big Brother is always watching. And in this case, waiting.

  5. mamajen says:

    I hope the priests proceed anyway.

  6. jhayes says:

    This is an issue for all government employees or contractors. The law goes back to 1884. If Fr. Joe is a contract priest, he can’t say Mass or or perform Marriages or Baptisms as a government employee but I don’t see any reason why he can’t do it on his own, if he is willing.

    With the government shut down today, hundreds of thousands of “nonessential” federal employees are furloughed. They’re not being paid and they’re not working. But what’s more, they’re not allowed to work. Not even a little.

    You can’t tweet from your federal agency Twitter account, you can’t come into the office to catch up on some overdue paperwork, and technically speaking you’re not even supposed to check your email. If you really strongly believe in your agency’s mission and don’t happen to have anything better to do today, you can’t volunteer to work for free. You must stay home.

    The reason is the Anti-Deficiency Act of 1884 as interpreted by the Justice Department of the late Carter years, with subsequent refinements by OMB and other relevant agencies. The basic logic of the Anti-Deficiency Act is to say that executive branch officials are not allowed to undertake actions that create financial obligations for the federal government that they have not received congressional funding for. The Navy, in other words, can’t order up a bunch of ships and then when the bill comes due tell Congress that it needs to appropriate the money to pay for the ships lest the entire creditworthiness of the American military collapse.

  7. TraditionalCatholicGirl says:

    Me too, mamajen. We have a right to worship and live out our faith.

  8. Theo-Philo SWO says:

    Chrissin, General Schedule (GS) is the pay scale inside of the US civil service. So civilian “GS” employees are federal employees usually with white collar jobs that work for the federal government in some capacity. The Archdiocese for Military Services has Catholic priests who are active duty military personnel (and hence are paid by the federal government just like all military personnel are). Since there are not enough active duty Catholic military chaplains to cover needs, the military has government contracts with other non-military priests (who then become “GS/contract priests”) to serve in some locations and help cover the huge demand for Catholic priests in the military. These are the priests we are talking about here and they are also paid by the government.

  9. jhayes says:

    When did our Catholic priests become employees of the fed govt?

    Since July 29, 1775, approximately 25,000 Army Chaplains have served as religious and spiritual leaders for 25 million Soldiers and their Families.

  10. Joel says:

    Grrr. If I may quote… “Hell and death” – J.A.

  11. Martlet says:

    There is absolutely nothing about this on the Catholic military community website where we worship. Yes, I read the bulletin from the Military Archdiocesan site but there is a world of difference between “could be arrested” and “will be arrested.” If priests do tend their flocks, anyone attempting to arrest them might just find that sheep bite! But I disagree that someone in Korea who doesn’t speak Korean will have to forego Mass. I’ve attended in many countries where I don’t speak the language and, well, Mass is Mass.

  12. MarkG says:

    >>> If you are a Catholic stationed in Japan or Korea and are served by a Contract or GS priest, unless you speak Korean or Japanese and can find a church nearby, then you have no choice but to go without Mass this weekend.

    Maybe they could find a Latin Mass?

  13. Legisperitus says:

    mamajen: I’m with you.

  14. Don says:

    I have never been a big proponent of Civil Disobedience, but I think now is the time. The priests need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and carry out their scheduled ministries, standing up to the MPs if necessary. This is so much in direct opposition to the free exercise clause that I don’t believe there is a court in this land who would uphold it, and even Obama would not want the “optics” of priests being led away in handcuffs.

  15. Priam1184 says:

    Like the article said: pure political theater: this whole government shutdown thing is just a giant put up job in to get our massively over emotionalized and ridiculously hypersensitive society to throw a ninny fit and blame the Republicans so Barack Obama will not run into any roadblocks on the way to implementing his genocidal health care program.

  16. MariaKap says:

    I hope those priests will obey God over Obama and offer the Mass anyway. Why are they paid by the government? Our church needs to disentangle itself from gov. money. Ridiculous.

  17. Jim R says:

    This is not the time to wade into this political theater. Like it or not, the law is not limited to priests, was not introduced by Obama and there is no indication it would be enforced in this way. It is simply part of any shutdown.

    It is a consequence of the shutdown and pre-existing law. Like it or not a better case can be made that the GOP has caused the shutdown: they did it before; they cheered when it happened; it could be avoided by passing a clean bill and the past history, until recently, is that such bills are passed without controversy. In that event, it’s the GOP who are to blame if any priest breaks the law in this regard.

    Wrong issue with which to try to batter Obama.

  18. Moro says:

    So much for “Freedom of Worship”

  19. mfm123 says:

    I cannot say what I want to say, I’m so infuriated!

  20. The Masked Chicken says:

    Actually, since their ability to say Mass does not depend upon anything given by the government (who cannot validly ordain), technically, the government cannot take away what it does not have the right to give. That being said, saying Mass is not a government function (since the government can command no one to say a Mass, per se). Technically, they are not being paid to say Mass, but, rather to stand in a Church and say words which just happen to, coincidentally, be the words of a real Mass, independent of the government. So, they can’t actually, be arrested for saying Mass, but only for saying the words of Mass and, then, only in a government-supplied Church (since the GS and contract priests certainly can say Masses, elsewhere). The simplest thing to do is for the priest to get another building that is not owned by the government and say a private Mass. If service men find out about it and show up, well, the priest never invited them.

    Also, the priests should make it known that if the military doesn’t like it, they should take it up with THE GUY IN CHARGE (hint: not Obama). Oh, and they should send them, here (articles 5 and 6 on indiscreet obedience) :

    Anyways, I probably don’t know what I’m talking about, but it sure felt good to vent.

    The Chicken

  21. lana says:

    So who is going to arrest them? The MP’s who are also in shutdown?

  22. chantgirl says:

    Well, the govt. said contract priests couldn’t say Mass on base, but they didn’t say anything about Eucharistic processions. I suggest a Eucharistic procession starting at base chapels, proceeding to a suitable spot off base for Mass.

    This administration has been one long near occasion of sin for me.

  23. Fern says:

    I was in the Military and my husband, may he rest in peace, retired from the Navy. Anger just lets “you know who” win. Car pool to the nearest Parish, attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, have a picnic and pray for the “powers that be”. It doesn’t matter “what” language the Mass is in!! What did St Paul say about casting fire on their heads? Being a Catholic, I know that that is somewhere in the Bible. :):)

  24. Magash says:

    This is not the first time this has happened.
    Every summer my parish does a Mission Trip which we organize and conduct. Sometimes other parishes are invited to come along with us. Last year a large group was suppose to come help from a military base which I will not name, so as not to get the military diocese youth minister in trouble. She was told that because of sequester she was not allowed to to go. Then she was also told that kids and parent volunteers were also not allowed to go, even if they paid out of their own pockets.

  25. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Masked Chicken gets close to it, but, I gotta say, observing from afar, the crime here for which arrest is threatened is NOT “saying Mass”, but rather, trespass. No?

  26. chantgirl says:

    Dr. Peters, I’m out of my league here, but the problem seems to stem from the fact that they would be volunteering their services.

    Perhaps a lawyer could clarify this.

  27. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “Perhaps a lawyer could clarify this.”

    Umm, I think one is.

    You don’t get arrested for volunteering (or for saying Mass), you get arrested for (here) trespass. Contractors have permission to enter property to do CONTRACTED work; if they are not contracted (alebit temporarily), they don’t have permission to enter the property. If a (temp non-k) priest showed up at the gates to the base, said, “I just wanna run around the track” he could not force his way on base, right? Well, from afar, it looks like the same thing here. Permission to enter is based on k. No k, no permission to enter.

  28. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    sorry, lawyer short for “contract” is “k”.

  29. chantgirl says:

    Thanks, Dr. Peters. So, it’s okay for a contract priest to provide services (even if the work has not yet been approved) for the men in uniform as long as they aren’t on federal property? While most servicemen could probably find a Mass in the US, I worry about those in the Middle East.

  30. Imrahil says:

    If I was the responsible staffer (which of course I am not), then I would send outside of the country real military personnel, and use contracted priests (called around here “garrison-pastor in by-office”) for the home bases.

    Just saying… but I don’t know how it really is.

  31. S. Murphy says:

    Like JHayes and Jim R said, this is an unintended consequence of a law that wasn’t targeted at our guys. I don’t think anybody would actually arrest them, anyway – more likely, if there weren’t either a military chaplain handy, or a parish within a reasonable distance (at Quantico there are two, by the way – so it’s a funny example), the priest would be given a waiver to volunteer – some active-duty person would be detailed to open up the chapel or something – or Padre would have been listed as ‘essential’ and not furloughed – or his contract would have mysteriously gotten paid through October just before the end of the FY in Sept, so that they had to let him work. Worse come to worse, the priest or parishioners could lock on a park field-house or a school gym or somebody’s back yard outside the gate. Or some GS-14 whose job was ‘essential’ would turn out to be a deacon, and at least do a Communion service. But mostly, there are parishes outside the gate.

    At the base where I am, our GS priest isn’t saying Mass because he’s furloughed, and doesn’t want to make trouble for his boss, but the tenant COCOM’s command chaplain is a priest, and he’s taking this weekend’s Masses – the base support unit is even making one of its otherwise apparently unionized* enlisted guys show up to unlock the chapel, etc. (I admit, it helps that the base CO is a parishioner, and that the command chaplain helps at the chapel-parish all the time anyway, because he likes to/feels like he should.)

    *They normally don’t have any kind of weekend duties. I guess they are admin, rather than Chaplain/s assistant/bodyguard by MOS. The priest, Protestant chaplains, and contract DREs open, close, vacuum the chapel and take out the trash. I think this would not happen at Camp Lejeune. I could be wrong. ;-)

  32. Johnno says:

    Jim R –

    Obama wants this shutdown to be as painful as possible.

    Also are you still under the delusion that both parties aren’t one and the same?

  33. SpittleFleckedNutty says:

    @Jim R says: This is not the time to wade into this political theater.

    Then promptly wades into said political theater by:

    1. Suggesting the GOP has caused the shutdown
    2. That they were responsible for the last shutdown and cheered it on
    3. That the house should abdicate their constitutional power of the purse
    4. That if any priest breaks the law in this regard it’s the GOP’s fault
    5. That if you disagree with Obama you are trying to “batter” him (conservatives are so violent!)

    Fr. Z, as usual, gets it right. If there were some kind of LGBT-a-polooza scheduled that required contractors, the approval would have arrived before the request.

  34. Johnno says:

    Also it should be noted that the NSA is atill busy at work on all of us. No holidays for them. Spying is a sacred duty. If some government agencies can still work, then certainly they can let priests say mass on their property.

  35. S. Murphy says:

    Imrahil – I think they try to; and they send uniformed chaplains to places like Bagram and Leatherneck; so they may have to send, e.g., a Navy priest to a deploying unit that might/will go to Afghanistan, like 1st Marine Division, and GS to a base, post, or station like Iwakuni, Japan – even if they would like to keep the GS at stateside bases/posts/stations. They also surge chaplains from non-deployed or non-deploying units, whose personnel have options outside the gate, to the combat zone for seasonal support (sc Christmas, Easter, High Holy Days, Orthodox Christmas and Easter, etc), so our uniformed clergy deploy a lot. This may not help us to have more of them, so GS or contractors get hired to fill some of the requirements. DOD also provides chaplain support to some embassies and consulates, to that’s another demand.

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    I think that S. Murphy’s point is well-taken: this restriction is, essentially, saber-rattling. In reality, soldiers and clergy will, I suspect, find a way to have Mass or Confession, but there are other issues involved that are somewhat ominous for the future.

    Yes, it would be trespassing if the contract priest entered the base, but, here’s the point that, I think, breaks the government’s argument and there’s really no way around it (which they don’t seem to either understand or care about): necessitas non habet legem (necessity has no law). Trespass is not only permitted but may be positively required in cases of necessity. If you trespass on my property, I can’t have you arrested if you were running away from a hungry bear that was chasing you (not through your own fault!). Now, in some insane countries civil laws may try to impose an arrest, but the moral and Natural Law recognize no obligation to obey the law against trespass because a higher obligation (saving one’s life) trumps it.

    Likewise, if the government is shut down and the base locked down, but someone becomes deathly ill and there is only one specialist who can save the man, it is perfectly moral and should be legal to disobey the lock-down, if the specialist happens to be in the area (or can be gotten), even if prior permission cannot be obtained. It matters not whether the specialist will sign a contract or not – the necessity speaks for itself.

    Here is the subtle point that invalidates the government’s arguments, at least in some restricted cases: things like Confession, and possibly Mass (an argument can be made) are both necessary for life and must be conducted by a specialist. If the men cannot leave the base, then the priest has a right, it seems to me and in some cases the obligation (say a Catholic soldier is in danger of death), to ignore the lock-down and administer the sacraments. The problem is that the government does not recognize that a state of necessity exists, but that really isn’t the priest’s problem. That is a matter to hang the government officials when the Last Judgment comes.

    For the time that the priest must act under necessity, any contract with the government is, at least morally, suspended (or, as S. Murphy implies, can be worked around), because it is superseded by a higher contract.

    Basically, the government has no authority, here, to tell the Archdiocese of the Military what they can and cannot do with regards to the administering of the sacraments, especially of Confession, even on their own property, if there are Catholics on it who cannot be removed (if they can be removed, it is the government’s responsibility to do so if they wish to maintain the sovereignty of their property). Their authority is superseded by a higher obligation, a higher authority, which they, unfortunately, may not understand. That is not the Archdiocese’s problem. The only thing the government has is hot air and threats – i.e., an appeal to power, not authority, to make their case.

    If, in cases of necessity, a priest may enter a convent and even enter a brothel, how much less restriction can be placed on a priest entering a military base – if the danger of death is real or there is some other absolute necessity.

    Is Confession a necessity? Is the Mass? That’s the question. If confession is a necessity for a civilian in mortal sin, how much more for a military man? Are there no soldiers in a state of mortal sin? Are we being defended by an army of angels? The government has no reasonable right to put off Confessions unless a state of necessity obtains, and lack of money, while an inconvenience, is not a necessity. They are keeping plenty of other, “essential,” services open and that’s the rub – the leaders in government who made this threat do not consider the clergy to be essential.

    Governments only have authority (and then, only to a limited extent) over material nature. They may command a man’s body for a certain action, but not his soul. They have no authority over spiritual nature.

    As I say, they may not recognize the nature of the sacraments or even God, or they may have their own naive opinions, but that is not, strictly speaking in the line of authority, since error has no rights, especially to command.

    Heck, I say, challenge the law. The Anti-Deficiency Act was passed in 1884, before the large influx of Catholics after WWI, by the way (or, rather, the second-wave of Irish adding to Italians and some Germans). The U. S. was, largely, Anti-Catholic in 1884 and Protestants don’t need clergy, technically. It was improperly and too broadly interpreted by the Carter administration nearly 100 years later after the society the law was written for ceased to exist.

    “The basic logic of the Anti-Deficiency Act is to say that executive branch officials are not allowed to undertake actions that create financial obligations for the federal government that they have not received congressional funding for.”

    This is a form of distributive justice, to be sure, but Confession, for instance is a form of restorative justice between not two men, but between a man and his God. For a Protestant, religion can be made into a contract and many misunderstand the death of Christ, precisely on this point, but for the Catholic, religion is a necessity. No law has the ability to reduce to a contract that which is beyond a contract, but a need. Now, the price of the contract for the services of the priest was already paid on Calvary, so the government has no argument, either from distributive justice or from reason. If the priests wish to donate their time, who are they to stop them?

    Take it to the Supreme Court. Make the government put up or shut up. If they lose, throw the bums out; if they win, at least we will know where we stand and where the lions are housed. If we do not, if we just let this blow over, it may come back at a future time and in a situation of martial law.

    Tin foil hat adjusted.

    The Chicken

  37. av8er says:

    This is like the gov’t closing the WWII memorial the the WWII vets, and anyone else, or the closing of the Normandy WWII cemetery only more diabolical. They are trying to force people to feel the pain so as to place blame on their opponents. Its disgusting.

  38. Kathleen10 says:

    SpittleFlecked, you saved me a post and said it well. Thanks.
    I am every day anew, appalled at the manipulations of this current administration. We are hapless victims to a president who sees Americans as merely pawns on a chessboard, in a big game in which he MUST win at any cost. Immature, vengeful, angry, I do not believe he cares one bit about the American citizens he is intentionally impacting, possibly even the ones who voted for him twice. We are all incidental to the center of his universe, himself. I’m not a psychoanalyst, but surely this man has a Messiah complex.

  39. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    On the technical side:

    John Sclageter writes, “As an example, if a Catholic family has a Baptism scheduled at the base chapel at Langley AFB this weekend, unless they can locate a priest who is not a GS or contract priest, they should consider it cancelled.”

    Does this presuppose that “a priest who is not a GS or contract priest” will (fairly?) automatically get permission re. thr base chapel, or does not need it?

    Are there universal, standard contracts for GS and contract priests?

    Do their ‘terms of employment’ govern what they can do, where, outside normal ‘working hours’?

    Could an ‘off-duty’ (or ‘outside-working-hours’) GS or contract priest, not be the one to come to the base chapel for the Baptism? (That would not be volunteering ‘during work time’- or would it? Does all hinge on contract details?)

  40. The Cobbler says:

    Am I to gather that the real issue here is that Catholics in the military have to have their priests via paid government contracts in the first place?

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  43. Tom says:

    Good, Mamajen

    They need to say Holy Mass and get themselves arrested. This administration would then have to defend its scurrilous action in court instead of continuously attempting to bully us into submission.

  44. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    It is called the Antideficiency Act (can’t “volunteer” for what you are paid to do.)

    The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal employees from

    making or authorizing an expenditure from, or creating or authorizing an obligation under, any appropriation or fund in excess of the amount available in the appropriation or fund unless authorized by law. 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1)(A).
    involving the government in any obligation to pay money before funds have been appropriated for that purpose, unless otherwise allowed by law. 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1)(B).
    accepting voluntary services for the United States, or employing personal services not authorized by law, except in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property. 31 U.S.C. § 1342.
    making obligations or expenditures in excess of an apportionment or reapportionment, or in excess of the amount permitted by agency regulations. 31 U.S.C. § 1517(a).

    Federal employees who violate the Antideficiency Act are subject to two types of sanctions: administrative and penal. Employees may be subject to appropriate administrative discipline including, when circumstances warrant, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office. In addition, employees may also be subject to fines, imprisonment, or both.

    There is a lot more after that. Key provision for any priest
    ” accepting voluntary services for the United States, or employing personal services not authorized by law, except in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property. 31 U.S.C. § 1342.

    I would say that hearing Confessions and Celebrating the Holy Eucharist SAVES HUMAN LIFE, our immortal souls to be specific, so a priest WOULD NOT be violating it. But the lawyer for the Military Archdiocese finds it differently, thus the Archdiocese will not defend or back-up a priest that goes ahead and celebrates the Holy Eucharist

    As to “getting on base/post” any member of the parish can “sponsor” a visitor, go to the gate and sign them in, or even better, go fetch the padre and bring him with you, and return him home after.

    If the Chapel is “locked” hold Mass at someone’s quarters (house).

    As to why not just leave the post/base and go off base… in some duty locations this is not very easy to do, Europe? Not a problem. In Korea or Japan, that can be hours away.

  45. MikeM says:

    “GS and contract priests are paid by the fed govt?”
    Of course the military pays the priests who work on military posts. Active duty chaplains are members of the military, who get military pay and benefits. And, since there is a drastic shortage of active duty priests, a lot of times the military pays for another priest to come (and there are a number of these priests). Priests have to eat, too… if they’re using their time and their gas to serve our servicemembers, they get paid for that. And, the military generally can’t accept those kinds of services for free, anyway.

    Normally, furloughed employees aren’t allowed to work… and they’re not allowed to work for free, either. Employers (not just the government) generally can’t let people work when they’re not being paid. When people are “allowed” to work, it can easily start to feel like an obligation. If half of your office is working and piling papers on your desk, you’re going to feel like you have to be there.

    So, it’s natural that the law would technically indicate that these priests shouldn’t be working when there’s no budget for them… but, given the circumstances, one would think that someone could exercise some judgement and permit priests to show up as long as they are clearly told that they do not have to and will not be paid if they do. They can’t exactly tell the priests that they’re allowed to work, but they could have done anything on the spectrum between saying “Since we can’t sponsor a Mass at that time, we’re going to leave the door to the chapel unlocked so you can gather and pray as you choose *wink wink*” and saying “We will court martial you and push for jail time if you say Mass!” and, apparently, they opted to go all the way to the latter end of the spectrum.

  46. MikeM says:

    JimR said ” Like it or not a better case can be made that the GOP has caused the shutdown: they did it before; they cheered when it happened; it could be avoided by passing a clean bill and the past history, until recently, is that such bills are passed without controversy.”

    Bahahaha. You knowledge of the history of US budgets is very very weak.

  47. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    masked chicken: you blur “necessity” and “obligation”.
    in common law, necessity defenses generally refer to acts taken to protect against immediate threats to human life or property. you can’t make that case with regards to saying mass.
    (ps: one might, might, take the case of a priest who ‘illegally’ entered a base to administer last rites.)

  48. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Dr. Peters,

    I wasn’t intending to blur the distinction between obligation and necessity, although what I said might not have been clear (a different type of blurring!).

    I wrote:

    “Here is the subtle point that invalidates the government’s arguments, at least in some restricted cases: things like Confession, and possibly Mass (an argument can be made) are both necessary for life and must be conducted by a specialist. If the men cannot leave the base, then the priest has a right, it seems to me and in some cases the obligation (say a Catholic soldier is in danger of death), to ignore the lock-down and administer the sacraments. The problem is that the government does not recognize that a state of necessity exists, but that really isn’t the priest’s problem.”

    Confession for a person in mortal sin is an obligation. Is it a necessity? Technically, under law, I guess not, because a perfect act of contrition suffices in the short term, but, since it is not always possible to know if one has made a perfect act of contrition, auricular Confession might, in certain cases, such as danger of death, amount to a necessity. I put the Mass in parentheses trying to imply that it was not a necessity for life and limb – only an obligation, but an argument could be made that there are other types of necessities (I can’t think of a strong example off of the top of my head, but something like, say, a priest who needs to confect a number of Eucharists to later distribute on the battlefield) and the law does not acknowledge this.

    Basically, the Anti-deficiency Act seems to pit money against God, especially if the priest is a volunteer. It is hard to see how the argument is valid that such an act obliges the government to pay out money that it hasn’t appropriated, since no money is being solicited. Yes, the GS priest is contractually entitled to money, but with the approval of both parties they can agree to set that aside for specific circumstances (which could have been done before the shutdown). I maintain that the law should have been written that way, but given that it was written in 1884 under a Protestant culture, it never envisioned the possibility of a special exemption for religion (and, I think, it should also have made a exemption for other charitable acts, so people could volunteer their time – I have little sympathy for a law that shows little sympathy – what harm could the government claim, after all if they can get work for free. Have they never heard of act done pro bono?).

    Thanks for clarifying the necessity/obligation point and holding my feet to the fire. Just don’t get them too close. I’m not ready to be someone’s chicken dinner :)

    The Chicken

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