Sign at military chapel: ‘Shutdown: No Catholic service till further notice’

CV-Harry-Reid-Vote-E-300x350And some people thought CatholicVote was making this up.

But now the news of contract military priests being unable to say Mass at military installations is making national news. Even the liberal tabloid Huffington Post carried the story:

Is religious freedom the latest casualty of the government shutdown?

Some priests are being actively prevented from ministering to service members and their families, even on a volunteer basis, and they run the risk of arrest if they disobey. As a result, military families serving at home and abroad who depend on the government for their religious services, are now actively being denied communion on bases that are served by civilian priests. Active-duty priests are still holding services.

Several military installations, like Quantico in northern Virginia, do not have a full-time Catholic chaplain on base. Catholics at that base rely on a contract priest to come to their base and say Mass. But that isn’t happening during the shutdown shutdown.

The Daily Caller reports that Catholics at a military base in Georgia will find a note at the chapel.

Father Ray Leonard, a Catholic priest who serves a Georgia military base, was not allowed to celebrate mass at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay this weekend.

“Shutdown: No Catholic service till further notice,” a sign posted on the chapel said.

Leonard — who is contracted with the Department of Defense to minister the military on the base — is not allowed to work on the base during the federal government shutdown.

This is madness.

Yes, there are serious disagreements between House Republicans and Senate Democrats. But surely they can come together and ensure that contract priests are able to say Mass at military bases this Sunday.

Last Friday, the general counsel for Archdiocese for the Military Services sounded the alarm. We at CatholicVote swung into action. Steve Skojec’s article about this subject has been read by 100,000 people on Friday alone. By late Friday evening, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised a quick vote in the House.

On Saturday, Democrats and Republicans came together in the House to pass a Concurrent Resolution, which expresses the intent of Congress that their previously passed law against people volunteering their time during a government shutdown was never intended to apply to ministers performing religious ceremonies.

It was a lopsided 400-1 vote.  Even Nancy Pelosi voted to let the Catholic priests say Mass on military bases.

On Monday, we sent a message to the entire CatholicVote membership, telling them to call their two United States Senators. But it’s been four days since the House took action, and so far the Senate hasn’t budged.

If you haven’t called yet, what are you waiting for?

Look up the phone numbers of your two Senators here:

[Let us know in the comments if you made the call to your Senators!]


Categories:Church News Politics Religious Liberty

  • Bob Yantosca

    I live in Massachusetts. I was able to get through to Sen. Ed Markey’s office. I told the staffer who answered the phone that I was urging Sen. Markey to vote to allow chaplains to perform religious services on bases, and that the house passed the CR by 400-1. The staffer thanked me for informing them of the passage of the CR. She also told me that Sen. Markey would most likely vote to allow chaplains to perform services on military bases.

    I also called Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office but got the voice mail. I told the same story and left my contact information. Their answering machine said that due to the shutdown they have limited staff answering phones (go figure).

  • jen

    Contacted both of my Catholic Senators, not they seem to listen…

  • Morgan

    I wonder, since the world is only going make it tougher to be a Christian, how will we adapt as Catholics? Other Christian faiths hold private meetings in their homes when government oppresses their freedom to practice their religion. How will we adapt because we won’t just stop being Catholic. Is there another way to take communion? Just fyi I am still in RCIA to officially join the church…so my apologies if my question sounds novice. So far my husband and I have given up a lot to pursue Catholicism. I honestly feel supercharged with adversity because it was promised to us when we began following Christ.

  • Tyler O

    I called my senators and representative (Michigan) when this first broke and have sharing it on my Facebook page. We cannot lay down and take this! We must rise up against this!

  • Mary Ellen Capriglione

    Not only are they denying the priest, but Catholics who want the mass are being denied as well.

  • Gary Rachuy

    Joshua, OK, I called my two senators Franken and Klobuchar, told my story of being a near life-long democrat and definitely a life-long Lutheran who grew up in rural Minnesota in the late 40’s and 50’s with an experience of mutual respect and cooperation between ourselves and our Catholic neighbors, served in Vietnam, worked in the public sector, voted twice for our current President and expressed the opinion that all of this looks very petty and personal on the part of the administration. They said they’d pass on my comments.



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