US Catholic military chaplains cannot officiate at same-sex unions, archbishop says
September 19, 2013
The archbishop responsible for the US armed forces has stated that Catholic chaplains cannot be obliged to participate in weddings, in counseling for homosexual couples, or in other events that would suggest approval of homosexual activities.
In a September 17 statement, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, sets out guidelines for Catholic military chaplains. Noting that policies recently enacted by the Obama administration have caused some confusion about the chaplains’ role, the archbishop encourages chaplains to uphold the teaching of the Church. “A clear disservice is rendered if the truth of the Gospel is confused by the actions of those ordained to disseminate that truth,” Archbishop Broglio writes.
Specifically, the archbishop states
No Catholic priest or deacon may be forced by any authority to witness or bless the union of couples of the same gender. No Catholic priest or deacon can be obliged to assist at a “Strong Bonds” or other “Marriage Retreat”, if that gathering is also open to couples of the same gender. A priest who is asked to counsel non-Catholic parties in a same-gendered relationship will direct them to a chaplain who is able to assist. Catholic parties will, of course, be encouraged by the priest to strive to live by the teaching of the Gospel.
While the tradition of the Catholic Church always tries to find reasons to bury the dead, a priest may not be placed in a situation where his assistance at a funeral for a Catholic would give the impression that the Church approves of same sex “marital” relationships….
Obviously, anyone who is known to be in a sinful relationship is excluded from ministries in the Catholic community. While this list is not intended to cover every situation, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, catechists, and members of the Catholic Council immediately come to mind.
Archbishop Broglio also addresses the problems facing Catholics who exercise command in the armed forces, and are now required to implement programs that recognize same-sex unions. Citing an analysis from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, he says that officers may carry out those policies if they have voiced their objections and if there is no avoid involvement without jeopardizing their own positions.
- Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio Issues Guidance to Catholic Military Chaplains on Same-Gender Relationships (Military Archdiocese)