URGENT: Archbp. Broglio of @MilArchUSA on Navy Prohibiting Participation in Off-Base Religious Services 

I have been sitting on this and sitting on this and sitting on this….

Finally…

From Archbishop Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services:

Archbishop Broglio Issues Statement on U.S. Naval Orders Prohibiting Participation in Off-Base Religious Services
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
07-04-2020

Archbishop Broglio Issues Statement on U.S. Naval Orders Prohibiting Participation in Off-Base Indoor Religious Services

“…. the Navy cannot legally prohibit family members from frequenting religious services off base….”

WASHINGTON, DC – His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, issued the following statement today on the prohibition by some commands in the US Navy against participation in off-base indoor religious services:

For Immediate Attention: COVID-19 Orders– U.S. Navy

A few nights ago I watched Silence, a movie about the persecution of Catholics in Japan in the 1600’s.  The persecution was systematic and destined to eradicate the faith from the islands.  While the current situation in the US is certainly not one of persecution, the movie does invite the viewer to recognize values, determine how important they are, and decide what value merits a sacrifice, even the ultimate sacrifice.

Several of the faithful whom the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, is privileged to serve have brought to my attention the recent prohibition by the US Navy in some commands of participation in indoor religious services off base.  Service members are required to sign that they have received the FRAG orders.  Those who disobey will be held accountable.

The orders also add that “civilian personnel, including families, are discouraged from” indoor church services, as well.

The provision is particularly odious to Catholics, because frequently there is no longer a Catholic program on naval installations due to budgetary constraints or many installation chapels are still closed—even though many of them could well ensure appropriate social distancing.

Of course, the Navy cannot legally prohibit family members from frequenting religious services off base.  Those family members return home where the military member lives.  What is the protective effect of the prohibition for the Navy personnel?  Zero.

Upon receiving this information I immediately contacted the Navy Chief of Chaplains’ Office.  They have been unable to offer any relief from these provisions.  My attempt to contact the Chief of Naval Operations has not even been acknowledged.

Participation in the Sunday Eucharist is life blood for Catholics.  It is the source and summit of our lives and allows us to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord.  Certainly, the Navy personnel who fall under this restriction are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, because no one can be required to do what is impossible.

However, given the great lengths to which Catholic churches (and I presume others) have gone in order to ensure social distancing in seating, receiving Holy Communion, and even adjust the liturgy to avoid any contagion, I wonder why the Navy has decided to prohibit the faithful from something, which even the Commander in Chief has called an essential service.

I want to assure the Navy Catholic faithful of my prayerful solidarity, invite them to continue to participate in Masses that are broadcast or live-streamed, and to be fervent in their faith.  This situation will pass and, as Pope Francis reminded us, Christ is in the boat with us.

It seems tragic to offer these reflections on the Independence holiday when we honor the bravery of those who forged this Nation to ensure self-evident truths about the endowment by the Creator of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Should those who swear to protect and defend the Constitution be obliged to surrender their First Amendment Rights?

+Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services, USA

-30-
The AMS was established as an independent archdiocese by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1985 as the only Catholic jurisdiction responsible for endorsing and granting faculties for priests to serve as chaplains in the U.S. military and VA Medical Centers. AMS-endorsed priests serve at more than 220 U.S. military installations in 29 countries, making the AMS the nation’s only global archdiocese. AMS-endorsed chaplains also serve at 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the U.S. The AMS service population also includes American Catholic civilians working for the federal government in 134 countries, but currently, due to limited resources, the AMS cannot adequately serve this population. Worldwide, an estimated 1.8 million Catholics depend on the AMS to meet their spiritual and sacramental needs. For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, visit milarch.org, the only official website for Catholics in the U.S. Military. ????For information on the Cause of Father Vincent R. Capodanno, M.M., visit capodannoguild.org.
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20 Responses to URGENT: Archbp. Broglio of @MilArchUSA on Navy Prohibiting Participation in Off-Base Religious Services 

  1. AA Cunningham says:

    An unlawful order which, under the UCMJ – Uniform Code of Military Justice, service personnel are under absolutely no obligation to follow.

  2. Chrissin says:

    It’s not just tragic – it’s actually ridiculous….
    Call Chris Ferrara! Thomas More Society. He just won a suit against Cuomo in NY for the lockdown rules imposed on churches. Unfortunately no Catholic priests, bps or cds would join the suit, excepting 2 Pius X priests, and 3 rabbis.

  3. hwriggles4 says:

    Archbishop Broglio:

    Thank you for standing up for the Church. Your efforts are appreciated.

    Years ago, I applied for a Direct Commission Engineer to the US Coast Guard. I didn’t get selected (only 4 got picked that round, the year before only 3 got selected), but I can relate to bases not having a Catholic chaplain (the number of Catholic chaplains serving the Coast Guard is very small, and for the record like the Marines, Navy chaplains serve the Coast Guard) so many Catholics do attend Mass off base. My dad was Air Force, and we normally lived off base anyway. Many Protestants also attend church off base (some by choice, which I think is fine – I think my mother preferred a Catholic Church off base when she had a choice) and I am sure many Jewish attend services off base, since there’s also a shortage of Rabbi’s in the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

  4. I have to disagree with the Archbishop when he says, “While the current situation in the US is certainly not one of persecution…” I’ll cut him a little slack for the need to be diplomatic, and perhaps one catches more flies with honey, but the Church is definitely under persecution. Here is another opportunity for President Trump to show that he is actually different– all he has to do is issue an order as Commander-in-Chief. Let’s pray that he does the right thing.

  5. Rob83 says:

    This seems to call for respectfully writing to the President to request either that the orders be withdrawn or that provision for the men be made on-base.

  6. robtbrown says:

    The US military chaplain service is dominated by Protestant ministers and Protestantism. The incomes of Protestant ministers vary, and the financial demands of family responsibilities make it very important. Thus, the financial security of a chaplain’s military career is very attractive.

    Around 20 years ago the Catholic Chapel at Ft Leavenworth (St Ignatius) was destroyed by fire.
    My understanding is that it had been built by private funds. After its destruction permission was sought to rebuild it–with public funds. Permission was denied. Ronald Dumsfeld was Sec Def at that time.

  7. Joy1985 says:

    Lord help all of our catholic men and women in the military to have their spiritual needs met. That the military is not unfairly singled out with the unnecessary Covid requirements placed on them.

  8. Sandy says:

    The Military Archdiocese is dear to my heart. Our military folks need support, especially the Catholics, who sometimes are left behind in a way. (Someone above addresses that disparity.) Some years ago I attempted to go to mid-day Mass at our local Marine base and there wasn’t even a Catholic chaplain assigned at the time, so no daily Mass. I have a Catholic chaplain to thank for his discussion with my future husband over 50 years ago, for bringing the love of my life into the Church.

  9. Semper Gumby says:

    Andrew Saucci: “all he has to do is issue an order as Commander-in-Chief.”

    Though, that can lead to a problem with micro-management, and endless revisions and exceptions due to varying conditions in the cities and towns adjacent to the many Navy bases, air stations and facilities. The CinC already stated religious services are essential. Fleet Forces Command revised the FRAGORD and now permits attendance at house religious services. That’s a step in the right direction. The Navy has a concern with ships stranded pierside without crews. But the larger point Abp. Broglio and others, including non-Catholic clergy, are making is, of course, solid.

    robtbrown: “After its destruction permission was sought to rebuild it–with public funds. Permission was denied.”

    Ft. Leavenworth has a St. Ignatius Church and parish.

  10. xavier says:

    On what possible ground for good order and conduct as well as contributing to unit cohesion does this order even presume?

    This virus has just switched on the inner micromanager whose good conscience just can’t bear anyone from exercising their agency during a pandemic.
    This order is so egregiously stupid so mindbogglingly idiotic it’ll be revoked.

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    Xavier: “On what possible ground for good order and conduct as well as contributing to unit cohesion does this order even presume?”

    Please read the FRAGORD:

    “WE BEAR AN OBLIGATION TO MAINTAIN THE ABILITY TO
    MAN AND TAKE OUR SHIPS TO SEA, OFTEN ON SHORT NOTICE.”

    Again, Fleet Forces Command has taken a step in the right direction by dropping the word “social” from house gatherings- partially modifying the FRAGORD- and thus permitting house gatherings of all types to include religious.

  12. AmjdhA says:

    Semper Gumby, thanks for the additional information. Most of us had not seen a copy of the FRAGORD.

  13. Semper Gumby says:

    AmjdhA: You’re welcome.

    Rather than searching by subject and date-time-group on military sites (from my comment under a different post several days ago), click the link below and scroll down a bit to “Official text: U.S. Navy Order…” That link will download an eight page PDF (about 100 KB)- the original FRAGORD.

    That article at firstliberty and the FRAGORD it links to both date prior to the revision of, I think it was, Wednesday evening. Also, you’ll see on the PDF that military message traffic is in capital letters.

    https://firstliberty.org/media/u-s-navy-bans-troops-from-indoor-religious-services/

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z: If I could add two points.

    1. A glimpse at social media chatter (a neutral term- nothing derogatory) this afternoon indicates some are still unaware of the minor revision (which does not fully address the issue but is helpful nonetheless) from four days ago. True, the FRAGORD and revision are not easily found.

    2. The Chief of Naval Operations is not “evil.” He does not park his goat in the Pentagon parking lot nor sup on the blood of newborns in the cafeteria. Please calm down.

    Praise be for the service to God and Country of Fr. O’Callahan USN and Fr. Capodanno USN.

    [LOL! For the goat, whom I presume is named “Bill”.]

  15. JustaSinner says:

    Well, for starters, it’s the Navy, so go figure. As a former Marine, this is SOP for the squids in blue.

  16. WVC says:

    As a former squid, I’d point out the Marine Corps is nothing more than a portion of the Department of the Navy.

    My question is – are we seeing the final secret of Fatima finally unfolding? Communist groups toppling statues, burning flags, and desecrating churches while officials shut down Church services and the military bans attendance at Mass for the sake of a minor flu-bug that came out of Communist China . . . sure sounds like the errors of Russia are all over the world right now. . .

  17. Semper Gumby says:

    Update from First Liberty regarding a memo from Acting Undersecretary of the Navy Slavonic [!] to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and Chief of Naval Operations SUBJECT: Clarification of Guidance Related to Attendance at Religious Services (scroll down and click on “Revised U.S. Navy Order” for a 50kb 1-page PDF):

    https://firstliberty.org/covidvictories/

    [господь! господь! господь!]

  18. robtbrown says:

    I just noticed a mistake on my above post. Should be:

    Around 20 years ago the Catholic Chapel at Ft Leavenworth (St Ignatius) was destroyed by fire.
    My understanding is that it had been built by private funds. After its destruction permission was sought to rebuild it–with PRIVATE funds. Permission was denied. Ronald Dumsfeld was Sec Def at that time.

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    robtbrown: Be advised: his name his Donald Rumsfeld. Once again, Ft. Leavenworth has a St. Ignatius Church and parish.

  20. Semper Gumby says:

    Good point Fr. Z. Let’s see here…

    мистер

    словѣ́ньскъ

    أَمِير ٱلْمُؤْمِنِين‎

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