If the government shutdown continues through the weekend, there won’t be any Catholic priest to say Mass at some military installations – and they’d risk arrest if they even tried, according to an official with the archdiocese that serves the military.
Because of the shortage of active-duty Catholic chaplains for some 275,000 men and women in uniform and their families, the military relies on civilian priests to serve as government service and contract ministers, John Schlageter, general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services wrote in an op-ed piece
And during the government shutdown that began Tuesday, he wrote, “it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.”
Schlageter noted the furor generated by the threatened cancellation of hugely popular military academy football games
because of the shutdown.
But the Navy-Air Force game and an Army game against Boston College this Saturday were back on schedule
when funds not appropriated by Congress were hastily scrounged up.
“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,” Schlageter wrote. “Why not?”
According to its website
, the Archdiocese for the Military Services “provides the Catholic Church’s full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to those in the United States Armed Forces.”
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