Obama Administration attacks Catholic military personnel and threatens their chaplains

I already posted about this HERE but we need to keep it in front of our eyes.  From Todd Starnes at FNC.

Catholic priests in military face arrest for celebrating Mass

By Todd Starnes

The U.S. military has furloughed as many as 50 Catholic chaplains due to the partial suspension of government services, banning them from celebrating weekend Mass. At least one chaplain was told that if he engaged in any ministry activity, he would be subjected to disciplinary action. [Let’s put this in the customary terms liberals always use when in a debate.  The First Gay President’s administration wants to HURT people. They are determined to increase pain for the sake of their political agenda. They are gang members in a town they have overrun.  They are mafia thugs who shakedown businesses and blackmail people.  There.  Now liberals will shout “FOUL!” and demand that we turn down the rhetoric and embrace civility, even as they incessantly use terms exactly like that for their opponents.]

“In very practical terms it means Sunday Mass won’t be offered,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services told me. “If someone has a baptism scheduled, it won’t be celebrated.”

Show support for chaplains and the Archdiocese for Military Services! Send a donation, even a small one.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services tells me the military installations impacted are served by non-active-duty priests who were hired as government contractors. As a result of a shortage of active duty Catholic chaplains, the government hires contract priests.

Broglio said some military bases have forbidden the contract priests from volunteering to celebrate Mass without pay. [They won’t let them even volunteer, which priests would want to do anyway. This is crazy. The Obama administration is trying to benefit from the pain people will have.  This time I am not kidding.  That’s what they are doing.  They want to make little children cry because they can’t visit the Smithsonian.  They want to disappoint elderly veterans.  They want to ruin the trips of US citizens who want to visit American military cemeteries overseas where their father is buried.   They want to ruin vacations – in a time when the economy is difficult – to national parks.  The list goes on.]

“They were told they cannot function because those are contracted services and since there’s no funding they can’t do it – even if they volunteer,” he said. [What if they said they would bring their own candles and not turn on the lights?  Is it a matter of the money it costs to open the chapel?]

John Schlageter, general counsel for the archdiocese, said any furloughed priests volunteering their services could face big trouble.

“During the shutdown, it is illegal[?!?] for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so,” he said in a written statement. [This president – according to his own whims – decides which laws he wants to enforce and which not, which interest groups receive his benefice and waivers, and which not. Through the president’s HHS MANDATE Catholics are to be forced to pay for immoral things and then be denied services. I wonder: Are any rabbis or imams being threatened? I’d like to know.]

A well-placed source told me that a furloughed Air Force chaplain was threatened after he offered to forgo pay. The chaplain was told he could not go on base or enter his chapel offices. He was also barred from engaging in any ministry activity.

The source told me the chaplain was told that if he violated those orders he and his supervisor would be subjected to disciplinary action – with the possibility of being fired.

Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, called those developments disturbing.

“Catholic military personnel should not have their religious liberties held hostage by this funding crisis,” Crews told me. “I find it alarming that these priests cannot even volunteer to provide services without threat of arrest.” [Maybe some of these chaplains will go ahead and we’ll get photos of them being dragged off in cuffs, just like Notre Shame did to a priest who protested the bestowal of an honorary degree on this deeply anti-Catholic president.]

The archbishop said a priest at Joint Base Langley-Eustis was banned from officiating at the wedding of a couple he’d been counseling. [A baptism is pretty easy to reschedule. A wedding? Not so much.]

“The wedding could be on the base, [Okay, so it is not a matter of the cost of turning on the lights and AC. It’s about the priest. It’s about forbidding a priest from acting like the priest for Catholic military personnel.] but the priest can’t do the wedding,” Broglio told me.

A priest at the Naval Amphibious Base in Little Creek, Va., was told he could not celebrate Mass on base because of the government shutdown. So he discovered a way to circumvent the ban.

“He’s having Mass in a local park off base,” the archbishop said.

The archbishop said it doesn’t make any sense to forbid priests from voluntarily ministering to the troops.

“Most of us don’t look to see that we’re going to be paid before we do something,” he said. “They are not being allowed to volunteer even to meet the needs of the faithful.”

Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League, told me he’s not surprised by the decision to furlough Catholic priests.

“In American history there has been no administration more anti-Catholic than the Obama administration,” he said. “For them to deny Catholic men and women the opportunity of the sacraments and to deal with their prayerful vocations is really a stunning statement.”

Donohue chalked it up to meanness.

“This idea of punishing Catholics in the military – denying them their priests – is consistent with the animus this administration has demonstrated,” he said.

It’s not exactly clear who is the final arbiter in the furloughs – but I suspect it’s the same folks who kicked school children out of the White House and elderly veterans out of the World War II Memorial.

It’s difficult to know who exactly is making these decisions,” the archbishop said. “I’m being told it keeps getting kicked up to a higher level.” [Where, again, is the buck supposed to stop? Wait… I know this one… hang on…]

I called the Pentagon but no one returned my calls.

I called the Air Force public affairs office and they told me to reach out to the local bases.

Surely there must be some way to compromise, to let Catholics practice their faith.

[MB] I find it odd that the military was able to find enough cash to let their football teams play this weekend – but they can’t scrounge up enough cash for weekend church services.

“It’s a sad contrast when we can let a football game go on but we won’t let a priest go on base and celebrate Mass,” he said.

So in President Obama’s world – college football players are essential but Catholic priests are not. [Wait just a moment. It only matters when it is on American soil! ]

I saw at Stars and Stripes that the troops over seas won’t be able to follow the football game Pres. Obama thinks is more important than the spiritual well-being of the same military personnel.

However, some key quality-of-life services will be hard hit.

If a shutdown occurs, personnel at AFN’s broadcast center will face mandatory reductions. AFN’s radio services in Europe will continue to broadcast, however, with military personnel standing in for furloughed civilians.

The network’s radio-by-satellite feeds, which can be tuned in using an AFN decoder, will also continue to broadcast, with some modifications. With no sports channel, some football games would instead be carried live on “The Voice,” the network’s news, talk and information radio station.

You might say that this is not really a big deal.  I say that if the possibility of the service exists (this isn’t 1970, after all) then people serving the country in the military overseas should have some of these small comforts.

Just watch: This administration will probably move to shut off the internet access of our troops so that they and their families can’t communicate.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I hope the American Center for Law & Justice, the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Thomas More Law Center read this and bring suit. The optics are so bad on this one for this administration that it should educate more of the uninformed electorate to wake up and see how this President is mounting a historic infringement on religious liberty.

  2. lweisenthal says:

    You seem to have a degree of influence, Father. I pray that you will open your heart to the teachings of our Pope, which — correctly or incorrectly — I fear you yet fail to understand. [I fear you don’t have a clue about what I think about this Pope.] I won’t be visiting your blog any longer.[See you ’round!] But I’ll continue to ponder the beauty of a church with such wide open arms to embrace clerics and laity with such an astonishing diversity of secular politics. [Gosh, you are so enlightened. Pray for us poor sinners.] Catholic, indeed.

    Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

  3. av8er says:

    I whole heartedly agree with the commentary. The pictures are great too.

    I seriously can’t wait to retire from the Navy Reserve. Never thought I’d say that.

  4. Tamquam says:

    I recall pictures of Catholic Chaplains offering Mass on the hood of their jeeps right behind the lines. So, Fathers, offer Mass on the hoods of your cars just outside the base, see if you can get some local law enforcement to back you up in case the MPs come out to drive you off. For extra credit, have multiple video cameras running the whole time and upload to the interwebs as needed.

  5. Rev 13 (DRB) – 16 And he shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character in their right hand or on their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, but he that hath the character, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast. For it is the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six.

  6. Blaine says:

    (I copy/pasted most of this from another blog I commented on…)
    The local diocesan priest who contracted to serve my duty station had his contract not renewed during the last round of furloughs this past spring. Honestly, I was the only active duty guy who attended Mass anyways; all the others were civilian employees. I don’t think the majority of the younger people in the military care enough to make an impact on this. The older ones that might also generally have the means to get off base to a diocesan parish.

    As a Naval Academy grad, it’s sad-funny that people are more concerned that the football game goes on at all costs while religious and spiritual needs are ignored. I’m not watching the game today and will be spending valuable time with my wife and son instead.

    Six months until I’m completely free of this and I can’t hardly wait. I’m with av8er above – I never thought I’d say that. Please if you get a chance, a short prayer there are no last minute snags so I can go home for good would be much appreciated.

  7. iPadre says:

    President Obama is an Anti-Christ. Everything he stands for and everything he stands against goes to show it.

    It’s time for the military chaplains to go underground. Home Masses. They can’t forbid what is done in private. People with large rooms. Maybe even clean out the garage. It’s not that big, but a makeshift altar will fit right against the back wall – just like in the catacombs.

    I wonder when the American Emperor is going to start putting these restrictions on your local Catholic Church.

    We have to be ready and willing to be living witnesses – jail or death. Like it or not, it’s coming. Will the deniers continue to keep their head in the sand. Viva Cristo Rey!

  8. Jim Dorchak says:

    I am so happy that I have moved my Catholic family to a Catholic country where we do not have these problems. The people here would storm the government if this happened here. The new u.s.a. has become complacent and lazy about their freedoms and rights just as the current government knew that they would. Good Luck up there. Our prayers are with you as it will only get worse now.
    Jim Dorchak

  9. Kerry says:

    Regarding the photo above, I just realized why the one looked so smug. Instead of an honorary degree,I thought he was being offered a blindfold. “Viva Christo Rey!”

  10. Kerry says:

    This may be more to the point, from Solzhenitsyn’s Templeton address, 1983, the first three paragraphs.

    “More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

    Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

    What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.”

  11. Magpie says:

    Americans need to wake up and act. I don’t think the Irish would tolerate this. Well maybe some would, but not me! Kick this guy out if you can. He’s an evil genius.

  12. Suzanne Carl says:

    In January there was this: http://spectator.org/archives/2013/01/09/muzzling-military-chaplains
    In May there was this: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/05/01/Breaking-Pentagon-Confirms-Will-Court-Martial-Soldiers-Who-Share-Christian-Faith
    And now, no Mass.
    It is amazing how fast this is happening. The military is the testing ground for how much they can restrict the freedoms of every American.

  13. Mary Jane says:

    Neither the military nor the government have the right to deny the sacraments to anyone. In fact, this action is a direct attack on the archbishop, who has both the authority and responsibility to provide the sacraments.

    I would never want any priest or bishop to be arrested, but there comes a time when verbal protest isn’t enough, and tamely submitting isn’t an option. I’m reminded of the movie Becket.

  14. Martlet says:

    No-one is targetting Catholics. This is what happens when there is a government shutdown. Just a few short days ago, Cruz was saying that shutdowns don’t really affect people. Just days ago, a small sector of the House GOP were “elated” by the shutdown. If it elates them, then they need to own it – and the consequences. As for how it affects Catholic priests on US bases/posts, I will know more about that when we go to Mass tomorrow, but if the DoD priests IS furloughed, then the German priest who helps us out from time to time will no doubt step in.

    I just don’t buy the idea that somehow people are being denied Mass. To get to a Mass in English (on base) we have a 90-minute drive. When we don’t want to make the drive, we go locally, even though my husband’s German is very iffy. He can go through the Readings before Mass and can follow along with everything. The only thing people miss out on is the homily — just as people do whenever they are traveling on vacation to foreign lands, where they don’t know the language. No big deal.

  15. maioremlaetitiam says:

    The best way might be: just get arrested, and not only the priest, but possibly the whole congregation. All ye holy martyrs, pray for us.

  16. Mary Jane says:

    Martlet, with respect, that’s not what I heard Cruz say. I was listening to the radio during that broadcast. I heard Cruz say that *typically* government shutdowns don’t affect people – it’s something that happens behind closed doors, it’s something that happens in Washington and because it’s not ‘in anyone’s face’ people go about their lives and usually aren’t directly affected by it. But he said that this time around it *is* in everyone’s face – national parks are shut down, war memorials are barricaded, the administration is attacking the Catholic military personnell and chaplains – he said this time because it is in everyone’s face it is affecting people.

  17. Magpie says:

    Gosh Martlet that’s a mighty big army base! A 90 minute drive???

    And you miss the point – not only is Mass denied but also Sacramental accesss e.g. Last Rites – is this German priest gonna do this 90 minute drive at short notice if you or someone else is in need of the Sacrament of the Sick??? If you don’t speak German, good luck with that.

  18. Giuseppe says:

    Martlet, Todd Starnes’s article mentions no other religions. I read this as anti-Catholic targeting.

    Re. Senator Cruz’s comment that typically government shutdowns don’t affect people, I was baffled by it: of course a shutdown affects people.

    Rabbit hole: The government can reopen now if the House leadership allowed a vote on the CR as is. There is very likely a majority in the house to support it. I am baffled how a government can be shut down when a majority in each house and the president support the CR. Funding needs to be hashed out in Budget and then Appropriations bills, not CRs.

  19. Martlet says:

    Magpie – We have opted to spend some of our retirement in Germany and we live 90 minutes away from Ramstein AB, which is why WE have a 90-minute drive. Of course, military personnel live a lot closer. We have two full-time priests at Ramtein – one active duty and the other DoD. We also have active duty priests at other nearby military facilities, but should the German priest need to step in, he is very local to the base and serves the military community, for free, on a regular basis. But even if we didn’t have him and had no active duty priest, there is nothing to stop people from attending Mass locally. Yes, it will be in German, but Mass is Mass. The only part they might struggle with is, as I said before, the homily, but they can do as my husband does and use that time for prayer, when we go to our local church.

    And then the other Sacraments, I believe that, in an emergency, confession is valid even if the penitent and priest cannot understand each other, and I would assume that the Last Rites constitutes such an emergency. How would people manage, for example, if they took sick while on vacation? I knew someone who was traveling in Poland when her husband had a heart-attack. He was anointed without needing to understand the priest, or the priest understanding him.

    Giuseppe – Could that article have mentioned only Catholic chaplains because Protestant chaplains tend to be active duty? I don’t know whether this is the case but many Protestant demominations attend services off-base and fund their own pastors.

    And I agree with your rabbit-hole! I just refuse to go down it.

  20. green fiddler says:

    Would it be “against the law” for a non-contract Catholic priest from a nearby parish to offer Mass at the military base chapel? The contract priest could cover for Fr at the parish Masses… switch places, for now? The idea of faithful Catholics being forced to evacuate to another location does not set well with me. At all.

    What about *freedom of religion*?

  21. “No-one is targetting Catholics.” Baloney. this is the Obama administration and their record of attacking the Catholic Church speaks for itself.Obama doesn’t do anything unless there is a motive behind it.This is one time i found a comment i STRONGLYdisagree with.

  22. MarkG says:

    >>>“He’s having Mass in a local park off base,” the archbishop said.

    I think this is the best idea. Celebrate Mass as close to the base as possible using a park or any donated indoor space that will work. Invite the local media to attend and report.
    Since it’s for the troops, maybe some local hotels would donate their meeting / ballrooms to the effort. Usually Sunday mornings are open.
    The SSPX has used this approach for years when Churches weren’t available.

  23. Sword40 says:

    As I have stated here before, my Marine son and his family drive off base to attend Mass. I can no longer recommend to young people, a military career. Get out now if you are in (or as soon as your contract is up).

  24. Martlet says:

    And the reasons priests cannot volunteer? Seems they – along with all federal workers – are covered by the Anti-deficiency Act of 1884.

    I don’t think for a minute that Obama or Boehner, or Ted Cruz for that matter, have combed through the entire list of federal employees, to see whom they can target.


  25. Jerry says:

    How is it that National Weather Service employees work without pay, but the chaplains can’t even volunteer?

  26. rhhenry says:

    Why were the priests not classified as essential / exempted, and therefore allowed to keep working (without pay)?

  27. Random Friar says:

    Find a nice place just outside the main gate, set up your portable tent, and enjoy the fulness of your 1st Amendment Rights.

  28. mfm123 says:

    Let’s see if he gets away with arresting a priest. Priests, make yourselves available to be arrested!

  29. Martlet says:

    rhhenry – Presumably because weather events can be fatal and there is no-one else who can do the work. But seriously, has anyone looked to see where US military installations are? The vast majority are but a stone’s throw from a local Catholic church. They don’t NEED a DoD priest to offer Mass for them. 65-70% of military families live OFF-base/post and to attend Mass offered by military priests actually have to drive TO their base/post, often passing local churches to get there. No-one needs to miss Mass or do without Sacraments, or have their DoD priests offering Mass under trees or in private homes. Mass is available to people. An alternatve weather service is not.

  30. Martlet says:

    (Makes me wonder how we all manage when our DoD priests are away on vacation)

  31. inexcels says:

    Jim Dorchak: Just curious–what country do you live in?

  32. chantgirl says:

    Random Friar, for some reason that calls to my mind the pictures of JPII offering outdoor Mass in Poland when he came on pilgrimage right after becoming Pope, all under the watchful eye of the Communists who were trying to figure out how to deal with him.

  33. Jim Dorchak says:

    With amusement I have read the comments about how it is not a targeting of Catholics.
    Who is being targeted then? If not Catholics in this case specifically who? ???? (Catholic Military Chaplains). Were the other chaplains restricted from the protestant church or the heathens of other faiths? Would the Imams stand for being told that they can not pray today, that to kneel on a rug would use the government owned soil? I do not think so.
    So if the government in the u.s.a. comes out today, Saturday, and says that you can not go to Sunday Mass tomorrow because you must drive over the government funded roads and use government funded stop lights to get there what will you do? That’s what I thought……. nothing. So what does it matter and who cares at this point. Can you hear the orchestra playing on the promenade deck? Better man the life boats or learn to swim. Oh I forgot the white house closed the ocean today as well (no joke google it).

  34. John 6:54 says:

    We’re are less than a decade away from being put in prision for speaking the truth. Potentially even executions (public and/or private) at the current trajectory and rate of change. Don’t think that it can’t happen. The time to fight is now. Pray the Mass and make them arrest you. ¡Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King!

  35. Martlet says:

    inexcels — We are in Germany. DH was based in the UK the USA and Germany, both with the military and then on DoD contract after he retired, and we came back here to enjoy traveling around Europe while we still can. I remember a time when we didn’t have a DoD priest at Ramstein. Just a military one. Periodically, priests would make the drive of over six hours round-trip, from Louvain, to substitute when the priest was away. That was during Bush I’s presidency but it never occurred to us to blame the President for our priest shortage.

    An acquaintance spent time in Korea and, without understanding Korean, often attended a local church when the US priest was away.

    John 6:54 – I agree that it is entirely possible, somewhere down the line, but this is not about persecution. It is about having DoD priests who, quite naturally, are affected by furloughs. And you are telling them to offer Mass and be arrested? Why? There is no need. Where were you during the summer furlough? Same thing happened then but I didn’t see this hysteria. We were all served by the active duty priests and the local priests, no-one had to miss Mass and no-one needed to be arrested.

  36. Subvet says:

    In a career of 22 years, I was stationed at numerous locations. Every naval base I encountered had an athletic field (I’m told that for the Air Force it’s a golf course, for the Army it’s an obstacle course and for the Marines a minefield; hey whatever). Nothing stops your average sailor from meeting a few friends on those fields for an impromptu game of baseball. So if a chaplain shows up at that time and conducts Mass for the players, I have to wonder how far the Administration would go in their religious persecution. Yes, it’s religious persecution under the guise of pinching pennies.

  37. Langsey says:

    Let the priests coordinate with each other and have a Mass-in at the same time. Will Obama arrest them all! What a black eye for him if he does.

  38. Tom says:

    These priests have been threatened with arrest, people! That’s way out there, in my opinion. I hope they get some video of the MP’s marching up the aisle during Mass to handcuff the priest. As with Syria, the blamer in chief has again overplayed his hand. Will anyone call him on it?

  39. Martlet says:

    Subvet — who is paying their wages? Remember that these are not military chaplains but are actually GS priests, employed directly by the government. During your 22 years of service, how many GS priests did you meet? Everywhere we have been, there has been JUST ONE priest, and him active duty. Now, the government – the same one you claim is persecuting Catholics in this matter – is paying Catholic priests’ wages. How on earth is is persecution for the government to step in and employ priests out of taxpayers’money, to help with the military priest shortage?

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand any of this. We have too few young men willing to step up and become Military Catholic chaplains, the government steps in and pays older civilian priests to fill the gap, and suddenly they are persecuting us. because these priests have to bide by the same rules as other government employees. There is no logic to any of these arguments. So blinded by hate and fear that truth no longer matters.

  40. av8er says:

    Martlet, have you read the links Suzanne Carl posted above? Why does the threat of arrest need to be made?

  41. Supertradmum says:

    For several years before the first election, I tried to show people on my own blog and in classes the history of Marxism in Chicago grass roots politics. The Marx-Lenin-Chomsky-Ainksy-Obama link is there.

    Few listened. Now, we see the result of the close-mindedness of Catholics to real dangers of the hatred of the Catholic Church in this administration.

    God bless any priest who disobeys and meets the needs of his Catholic congregations.

    We are ALL going to have to make a stand soon. Those who do not will endanger their own souls.

  42. Sonshine135 says:

    I call upon all of my Brother Knights of Columbus in Military Councils to stand with your Priests! Should they choose to serve the flock on base/post, do not allow them to be touched by anyone! I take this as an idle threat from the administration, but you should be prepared. You joined the military to protect the rights of they are now trying to take away from you. Never let that happen. Give them an inch, and they take a foot.

  43. Lin says:

    @Martlet……..A priest should be able to say mass at any time and at any place whether they are paid or volunteer, essential (and they VERY essential) or considered non-essential. And when they cannot, it is an attack on all of us. Wake up! As the last comment states, “Give them an inch, and they take a foot.”
    PRAYER and confession is the answer!

  44. vandalia says:

    Blame President Chester A. Arthur.

    It is the Antideficiency Act of 1884 that makes this illegal. It is also not a new situation. For example, a priest (Catholic contract chaplain) at a federal prison (BOP) cannot “volunteer” his services. He cannot celebrate Mass, any sacrament, or do anything else outside the specific terms of his contract.

    And in case you are wondering, this was very strictly enforced during my brief tenure as a “contract chaplain” under the George W. Bush administration.

  45. Lin says:

    The law needs to be amended! A priest is not just a contract employee! It is a vocation that he lives 24-7. Too many laws! Too much government! As was stated previously above, “Men have forgotten GOD.”

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  47. StJude says:

    Amen IPadre.

    St. Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
    and do thou,
    O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
    by the power of God,
    thrust into hell Satan,
    and all the evil spirits,
    who prowl about the world
    seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

  48. David Zampino says:

    The vote in the House on the resolution which is, I believe, non-binding (unfortunately) was 400 to 1.

    Wonder who that one was. Does anyone know?

  49. jhayes says:

    The problem may have disappeared:

    “WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a surprise announcement on Saturday that he would reinstate almost all of the 400,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department who had been sent home when the government shut down last week.

    Mr. Hagel said “most DoD civilians” would be exempted from the furloughs and would return to work next week because Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers interpreted a stopgap budget measure signed into law last week by President Obama, which guaranteed pay for service members, to also apply to a larger number of civilian workers….

    When the government shut down on Tuesday, about half of the Defense Department’s civilian work force of 800,000 was ordered to stay home; military personnel are automatically exempted from the shutdown.

    In a letter to the department released Saturday, Mr. Hagel said government lawyers had advised that under the Pay Our Military Act, the Defense Department could “eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.”


  50. av8er says:

    Probably Pelosi.

  51. Kathleen10 says:

    He is evil, pure and simple. Once that is understood, things make a little more sense. The way so many Americans are enamored with him, despite all we’ve seen, that is the nightmare.
    The frustrating part is that despite all he does, there appears to be no recourse. I would think that Benghazi would have warranted something, but no. The IRS targeting individuals, denying tax exempt status, now having the National Organization for Marriage donor list and doing God knows what with it, but no. The individual mandate, homosexual marriage, all of it. It is all part of the plan to overwhelm us with changes, so many we can’t keep up and we give up. Hey, we all see what he’s up to. All of us except the zombies that is.
    I hope God will continue to bless our nation even though we don’t deserve it.

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  53. dwfinke says:

    It’s time again for a Catholic Chief of Chaplains. In recent years, my Navy has seen Active duty Roman Catholic Priest drop from 200+ to 110 to now 50. Fit priest with excellent and outstanding PFA scores are forced out at 60-years of age. Then some are given contract jobs at a significant savings to the government. Protestants don’t have this problem because they have an abundance of Active duty Chaplains.
    I enjoyed listening to Archbishop Broglio explain why we can’t use Permanent Deacons. They can’t celebrate Mass, hear confessions, and anoint the sick, all of which are battle essentials. Also, commanders can’t believe they are off the hook by getting a “substitute” clergy. We need the real deal.

  54. Bea says:

    Why has this man not been impeached?

    Where is the ACLU? or do they only defend atheists?

  55. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    Also NOT BEING PUBLICIZED, it is not just Catholic Chaplains, although the Military Archdiocese came out with a letter and news release from their lawyer. (Why hasn’t our Archbishop and his brother bishops NOT spoken out about this?)

    This affects the military health care system because of the reliance on civilian contract physicians, nurses and people working in allied medical fields.

    In the past, chaplains were EXEMPT, not this time.

  56. Imrahil says:

    You do not (except for exceptions) become a German priest without having what we call an Abitur (something in-between a high-school diploma and a general studies bachelorate). You do not get an Abitur without being able to understand English and make yourself prefectly clear in it. (Perhaps with somewhat an exception in the Saarland, where they focus on French rather.)

    One problem less. If the priest does not understand your English, speak more slowly. It is that easy.

    That is of course where the last rites, confessions, or so are concerned. Homily still will be in German.

    As for participation in the Mass, my own approach is if I’m not fast enough to go speak the answers in a foreign language, but being a regularly Mass-goer of course always know what is happening, I speak them silently in my own language or in Latin.

    It still is kind of refreshing when there’s a Save Regina or so afterwards, in Latin and Gregorian chant and just the same as home. Did I mention I love singing along?

  57. Grabski says:

    It appears they are talking about priests who have contracted w/ the GSA

    So what’s to stop a priest, or better, a Bishop, who is not under contract to go and serve our military by celebrating Mass on Sunday with them.

  58. vandalia says:

    @Grabski – Absolutely nothing and that is what is actually happening. A volunteer can do whatever he likes – well, almost. This is why I stopped working as a contract chaplain and switched to being a volunteer. Also, this does not exclusively effect Catholic Chaplains. It effects every other contract chaplain and contract worker.

    @dwfinke – You are correct. When I was growing up, it seemed every other Chief of Chaplains was Catholic, along with a similar percentage of chaplains serving in senior staff positions.

    The problem is that Bishops will not release priests to serve as military chaplains, or seminary professors, or any other ministry outside of their diocese. They argue that they don’t have the available “manpower.” Well, neither does any other diocese. The Archdiocese for the Military Services has come up with a “co-sponsorship” plan for seminarians, but most diocesan vocation offices are not limited by finances.

    I have argued for a national quota. Every diocese must release x% of their priests for ministry as military chaplain, seminary professors or Vatican service. Of course, most Bishops will probably release their troublemakers, but at least it might be a start.

  59. robtbrown says:

    lweisenthal says:
    5 October 2013 at 12:40 am

    You seem to have a degree of influence, Father. I pray that you will open your heart to the teachings of our Pope, which — correctly or incorrectly — I fear you yet fail to understand. I won’t be visiting your blog any longer. But I’ll continue to ponder the beauty of a church with such wide open arms to embrace clerics and laity with such an astonishing diversity of secular politics. Catholic, indeed.

    I wonder which teachings doesn’t Fr Z understand?

  60. robtbrown says:

    Continuing the tradition of the dramatic farewell, I want to say that I won’t be visiting this blog very much today. Mass, followed by visit to Walmart, then watching an NFL game, and finally tennis. Such experiences means I will experience the catholicity of life, which is obviously not to be found on this site.

  61. Bob B. says:

    Wonder if the homosexuals who are to be given leave to get married in the states are affected by these cuts? Bet they’re not.

  62. acardnal says:

    I could put a url link to Walmart on this blog site for you if that will help you experience its “catholicity.” ;-)

  63. Scott_Alt says:

    I suppose the theory here, for all the whatsit it’s worth, is that if you’re a military chaplain than the Mass is not a sacrament but a government service. The chaplain, you see, is a federal employee, nothing more. Somehow I doubt that was the thinking before the Reign of Our Glorious Lord Caesar Barackus Obamus, but it is now. Once the United States is 100% government, and there is no private space (which is the goal), then *all* priests will be federal employees. And Lord Caesar resteth on Sundays.

  64. vandalia says:

    ” Somehow I doubt that was the thinking before the Reign of Our Glorious Lord Caesar Barackus Obamus, but it is now.”

    It was definitely the case under the Bush administration in 2006. I was prohibited from celebrating any Sacrament or providing any other function other than those specifically provided for under the Department of Justice contract.

  65. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Could you tell more about provisions and prohibitions of the Department of Justice contract? Were there specified ‘working hours’? Were their specifications about ‘work-site access’ or whatever? Was it – or why was it not – possible to celebrate or provide voluntarily outside ‘working hours’?

  66. vandalia says:

    The contract was to provide one “session” per week, which was for the celebration of Mass. If I remember correctly, the contract specified that this session must be on a Sunday, with the specific time worked out by the institution administration. Why was it not possible to celebrate outside of this specific time? Have you ever tried to break into a federal prison? Well, since it was a camp it would have been pretty easy, but still. Under the Antideficiency Act of 1884, it is illegal for a government contractor to “volunteer” time or materials. So even if I wanted to come in more than the contract called for, it would have been illegal.

    A new policy was first enforced under Bush that prohibited a full-time Catholic chaplain from celebrating more than one Mass (“religious service”) per week in the name of treating all religions equally. For example, since virtually every other “contract chaplain” of other religions who could only (only wanted to) come in once a week, it was decided that no other religion could have chaplain-led services more frequently. This really only effected Catholics since no other religion really has minister-led religious services every day. So even when a full-time Catholic chaplain came on-board at this institution, he was prohibited from celebrating Mass in the chapel more than once a week.

    Up until Alberto Gonzales became attorney general, there was a general understanding that a full-time (employee) Catholic chaplain (priest) could celebrate Mass in the chapel every day he was on duty. If people showed up, they showed up. Then the word came down from DC – no more than one Mass per week, even if the chapel was available and the full-time chaplain (priest) had nothing else to do.

  67. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thank you very much! It seems an odd degree and sort of minute specification! (Your last sentence seems to give an especaily clear sense of that oddness.)

    I wonder if there would be any hope of petitioning, lobbying, organizing, etc., to get back to the full-time flexible situation you describe in your second-last sentence, or even to a situation where you were minutely contracted for A but quite free to do B voluntarily outside the specific terms of that contract (whereby, when doing B you would not be, then and there, a “government contractor” for the purposes of volunteering time, service)?

    Not to impose too far or too nosily, but how does the ‘breaking into a prison’ side of it work now that you are simply a volunteer?

  68. jflare says:

    All right, martlet, I had intended to write back anyway, but this comment REALLY got me straight out pissed:

    ” No-one needs to miss Mass or do without Sacraments, or have their DoD priests offering Mass under trees or in private homes. Mass is available to people. An alternatve weather service is not.”

    Well, speaking as a former Air Force weather officer who served in Germany, Japan, the ‘States, and a short stint in Iraq, I can tell you that alternative weather services DO exist!
    ..And as I consider the point, I’m half convinced that German, British, Japanese, or other military weather personnel could provide needed weather services to our forces in their respective nations in a tight spot. Granted, we wouldn’t want to have them providing warfighter-specific services–like targeting weather, for example–but if the entire region needed to be prepared for an ugly storm, you can be that other nations’ services could meet our needs. In fact, our military weather personnel interact with their colleagues from other nations fairly routinely. ..or at least, they did as of 10 years ago…..

    As for Mass, I agree that military personnel overseas–in Germany, at least–COULD attend Mass “on the economy” if they felt the need. I certainly did myself on many occasions. That’s not really the point. The point is, it appears that the Obama Administration has decided that any priest who isn’t an active duty military member may not offer Mass on any military installation at all. Why? Because they can’t pay them? That doesn’t appear to be an issue when they’re willing to volunteer. It seems that security forces are not to even allow a “contract priest” access onto the base or post.
    ..I’m pretty sure our priest at Hohenfels was not an active duty man. ..That means that at my home in Germany, depending on what’s going on now, people who live there now may be required to drive 4 HOURS to get to Mass in English at Ramstein, the nearest base. Maybe they could find an active duty priest at Grafenwoehr, Ansbach, or Wurtzberg. …Maybe. I wouldn’t count on it.
    Point is, even if servicemembers can get to Mass locally, I think they have the RIGHT to expect that they could receive the sacraments normally if the priest is willing to find the time.

    But it appears that our President doesn’t wish to allow for this.

    Makes me wonder: What ARE people doing in my old stomping ground right now?

    (I enjoyed Mass at Regensburg’s cathedral, but ceased attending there due to the 40 minute drive each way and the need to plug the meter at the parking garage….)

  69. jflare says:

    “(I’m told that for the Air Force it’s a golf course, for the Army it’s an obstacle course and for the Marines a minefield; hey whatever). ”

    I can’t speak to the Marines, but I recall seeing golf courses on or near Air Force bases where I went.

  70. jflare says:

    “Gosh Martlet that’s a mighty big army base! A 90 minute drive???”

    FWIW, after a fashion, that might not be so much a stretch of reality as might appear at first. It’s true enough that there are military personnel stationed closer to Ramstein than martlet, but it’s ALSO true that there likely are many who are not. I PCS’d from Bavaria at the end of 2004, so lots of things may have changed in the intervening 9 years or so. However, the way I remember it, the K-Town area (Kaiserslautern, that is) had the big base at Ramstein, but also several Army posts scattered about. At the time, we also had Rhein-Mein at Frankfurt, but I don’t think that’s American anymore, so they may not have English Mass there. ..But as a result, there may be very few military priests from Ramstein to Frankfurt.
    (And for what it’s worth, I HAVE heard of military installations that covered enough ground that a 90-minute drive from one side to another may actually happen.)

    In short, Americans who’re stationed in Germany may actually be having a tough time with getting to Mass in English right now.

  71. vandalia says:

    Volunteers are much more free to participate with far fewer restrictions. That is why I switched to “volunteer” status. I cannot fault those priests who chose to be contract employees, since they tend to be assigned to the rural parishes in the areas that most prisons are located, and have far less “income” from marriages, funerals, and Mass stipends.

    Prison officials are pretty immune to petitions as they get them constantly from across the spectrum. If there is a senator/representative reading this, I would urge them to keep a close eye on this issue as part of their oversight.

    By far the biggest issue is access to the Sacraments in jails. Anyone can end up in prison, but it is pretty much like winning a reverse lottery. Absolutely anyone can end up in jail – especially today – and in most of them there is absolutely no access to the Sacraments. You might be able to talk with a priest, but it is likely that conversation would be monitored or taped. So to me this is a far more critical issue, and one that an individual can have much more of an impact since it is at the local level.

  72. BLB Oregon says:

    Where is that great Catholic American Mr. Widen while all this is happening? Or the venerable Nancy Pelosi, defender of all “sacred ground”?

    (Perhaps the former speaker thinks that if she is being denied Holy Communion, nobody else needs it, either? http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/24/vatican-court-head-no-communion-nancy-pelosi/)

  73. kmcgrathop says:

    I am no defender of President Obama (although I pray for him often, as I am duty-bound as a Christian to do), nor of Obamacare, which is bad for many reasons quite aside from its requiring Catholic institutions’ material cooperation in evil. But I am astounded that this whole discussion has laid the blame for the ‘priest controversy’ solely at the feet of the President.

    Who was it who crowed about how they would shut down the Government? Not the President. And now that they have gotten their shutdown, the Tea Party-ers and their willing accomplices are scrambling to affirm that ‘Oh no, we didn’t mean for the shutdown to affect WWII veterans, or kids with cancer, or Catholic contract chaplains, or any other constituency we haven’t thought of yet.’ The President is just strictly implementing the law, letting the chips fall where they may, letting the GOP reap the whirlwind. And strictly from a political point of view, who could blame him. It’s not his job to spare the GOP the pain for their folly.

    Just because you don’t like a law doesn’t mean that one has the right to go to the last ditch against it. There was something the later Thomists called ‘regnative prudence’ which it seems the GOP is sadly lacking in. Government is good, even if many of its laws are bad. ‘Shutting it down’ as a political tactic seems like the opposite of governing. At the end of the day, it seems to have more to do with furthering Ted Cruz’ political career than with actually changing Obamacare.

    Lastly, there also seem to be many who are looking for anti-Catholic persecution behind every mulberry tree. This affects ALL contract chaplains, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim as well as Catholics (although it is true that Catholic military chaplaincies rely more on contract chaplains than other groups). Catholics are not being singled out. And in any event, instead of outrage and bluster, how about a little more ‘rejoicing and being glad,’ because we have been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the Name.’

    P.S. As a Catholic priest who is generally conservative in his politics, it grieves me to write this, lest I be considered a supporter of either President Obama or Obamacare. But I feel the discourse on this issue from Catholic circles is out of touch with the facts and a little unhinged.

  74. The Cobbler says:

    There has been no government shutdown; the government continues to operate and to keep running the things it considers worth running. What we have here, regardless of what anyone calls it (and no, I don’t give a darn what the Tea Partiers think they’re accomplishing), is a token acknowledgement that they cannot fund everything indefinitely on money pulled out of thin air. It is marred to the point of insult by the fact that the sort of people who were spending like [not drunken sailors, because drunken sailors stop when they have no real money left] are the same people deciding what stuff gets to continue despite the token acknowledgement, and over again by the fact that they’ve actually expended time and effort trying to stop normal, sane people from doing normal, sane things instead of just finding ways to spend less — which, by the way, is the whole alternative to this “shutting down” puppet theatre over funding limits, so it totally takes two to tango when it comes to this particular political [insert scatalogical terminology here].

    And actually, yeah, when you look at the signal like that, I’d be glad to have the feds not involved in most of this stuff they’re trying to make difficult for us because they couldn’t spend indefinitely on all their projects and special interests, and let the states and the people take most of it back. The government is supposed to, you know, govern, not fund everything until they run out of money and then tell us we can’t even have the parks or the chaplains if they aren’t the ones paying. Any law that says otherwise is bad law.

  75. JuliB says:

    @ kmcgrathop , Sir – there have been approx. 17 shutdowns on the government over the last couple of decades (8 or so under Reagan alone, IIRC). However, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever barricaded the open air, free standing, unstaffed memorials. Now, there are wire ties connecting the barriers.

    The Vietnam Wall has been blocked off. There are cones up near Mt Rushmore’s highways. Parts of the ocean are off-limits.

    If this has happened before, I will stop blaming Obama. The smallness of a man in such a great office just astounds. Since we have to pray for him I do, given how deluded he is by the evil one.

  76. vandalia says:

    As I said, blame Chester A. Arthur, and the idea to strictly enforce the Antideficiency Act came from Alberto Gonzalez under George W. Bush.

    There is a disturbing trend emerging.

    One of the most important contributions of Blessed John Paul II was the fight back against proportionalism. Put in the simplest terms – and without philosophical precision – that was the belief that the end justifies the means. That is the concept that has been utterly rejected by the Tradition of the Church and has been consistently fought by Blessed John Paul II and his successors.

    Unfortunatley, I see many people who claim to be faithful Catholics adopting a form of proportionalism in their thinking. The end justifies the means – bad arguments, bad facts and bad logic are acceptable if they support a “good” conclusion.

  77. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Belated thanks for your volunteering more information above about how volunteering, in contrast with GS/contract work, works!

    It seems (sketching crudely, and numbered for convenience) one can (and ought to) distinguish, 1. Arthur’s Act, 2. the legal details of actual contracts, 3. the apparent spirit informing the drafting of those contracts, and 4. discretion as to the designation of who will or will not be ‘furloughed’ as well as 5. the apparent spirit informing the exercise of such discretion.

    It sounds like all of them might well be improved upon. But presumably 4 and 5 could be instantly, discretely improved upon, were the empowered parties willing.

  78. bookworm says:

    For those of you wondering who cast the “no” vote on the House resolution to permit the chaplains to continue their service, wonder no more… the culprit is Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Ill., who lives in Belleville and represents the 12th District (Metro East area near St. Louis):


    Enyart is a retired 2-star general and not one of the usual far leftist suspects, and he is, at least geographically, as far from the Chicago Machine as any Illinois politician can be. However, he voted against the chaplain resolution because he thought it was a “phony” political stunt that “did nothing” to solve any real problems caused by the shutdown:

    “It is phony,” he says. “It is designed to do nothing but make these people feel good and to give them a political point that they’re doing something. They didn’t do anything.”

    “A retired two-star general, Enyart insists he’s more concerned about putting the government back to work.

    “You can pray anywhere,” he says. “You can’t just dump your kid anywhere; you can’t just not go to the commissaries to buy groceries to feed your family.”

  79. jflare says:

    I don’t know that we’re seeing intentional persecution of Catholics with the current situation per se; at least not any more than we have with the HHS mandate in the first place.

    I would argue though that you don’t make much sense to me with this view that ObamaCare should be funded merely because it has been enacted into law. Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, was “established law” as well, but still failed. Partly because it was plain old unpopular, partly because the House and President didn’t adequately fund enforcement efforts.
    If President Obama and Harry Reid want to gripe that the House won’t work with them, it’d be wise to remember that the House has already sent several bills to the Senate that would’ve funded government efforts, except for PPACA (ObamaCare). Sen Reid and the President don’t wish to allow government to operate without the President’s beloved law being funded. ..And so we have a political fight.

    I know many will blame the Republicans, in part because the Republicans haven’t been doing too well at the political games, but I can’t agree that they’re farther out of line than the Democrats. If anything, the current “shutdown” might be a good chance for people to begin to realize just how much risk should be associated with depending on government for everything. It’s a VERY outside chance, but a few folks might actually learn to solve their own problems.

    Sadly, I think the Republicans are likely to buckle before very long, I’m afraid they’re slowly losing the usual PR battle. Even so, it’s been nice to see someone give us a good reminder of the limits to the President’s power.

  80. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thanks for these details! To lazily ask before devoting lots of time and effort looking for myself, do you happen to have any sense of how the Honorable General Enyart has voted on those several (or is ‘numerous’ more accurate?) House bills that would’ve funded government efforts which jlare mentions?

    Presumably, he is not being “phony” when he insists he’s more concerned about putting the government back to work.

  81. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Sorry, “jflare”!

  82. green fiddler says:

    I’ve read that during previous government shut-downs our USA military chaplains were exempt from the restriction on contract workers… is that correct? If so, I am not understanding what changed to make it an issue this time.

  83. kmcgrathop says:

    @ jflare

    I don’t have any particular desire to see Obamacare ‘funded,’ but I do have an interest as a citizen in letting our Government be allowed to do those things we as a society have given it to do. Efforts to support Prohibition were ‘underfunded’ – meaning, not enough money was ever appropriated to adequately enforce its provisions (arguably, no amount of funding could ever have done that). But the shutdown is different. This is an effort by a minority in Congress to provide NO funding for something which is in fact law and using funding for everything else that Government does hostage.

    In a republican democracy like ours, there is a way to stop, prevent, repeal, reverse, revise laws that we don’t like. It’s at the ballot box. And however unpopular Obamacare supposedly is, it did not result in the election of a candidate who made it’s repeal one of his primary issues. Nor did it result in the election of more Republicans to the Senate. Even if the GOP is taking a principled stance here (and I’m not all that confident it is – I’m more convinced it is a political act to shore up Tea Party support in the primaries), there is a moment when real statesmen say, ‘We did what we could. Let’s see how the people feel about it in 2 years or 4 years times.’

    Many of the same people who fulminated about our ‘credibility’ if we didn’t do something to punish Syria now seem to have not a care in the world for our credibility when it comes to the insanity that is becoming an increasingly ritualized part of our political ‘process.’

    Anyway, I’ve spent far too long on this post, especially when there are souls to be saved – beginning with my own!

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