Priests face arrest for celebrating Mass in defiance of shutdown

Bob Beauprez
|
Posted: Oct 05, 2013 12:01 AM
Priests face arrest for celebrating Mass in defiance of shutdown

World War II Veterans denied access to their memorial is appalling. But, Catholic priests denied the opportunity to celebrate Mass, even as volunteers, leaves me speechless. Read below from the general counsel of the Archdiocese for Military Services as he explains priests that defy the governments orders may even face arrest.

"If the government shutdown continues through the weekend, there will be no Catholic priest to celebrate Mass this Sunday in the chapels at some U.S. military installations where non-active-duty priests serve as government contractors."

"Military personnel enjoy, like all Americans, the First Amendment guarantee of the 'Free Exercise' of their particular religious faith. But because military personnel are considered a 'captive audience,' the laws of our country require the government to provide access to that faith. This is why we have military chaplaincy. This all becomes very clear when on thinks of a military family stationed in Bahrain or Japan. They cannot walk down the street to the local synagogue, church, mosque, etc."

"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." Read more here.