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Some US military chaplains barred from celebrating Mass

October 09, 2013

The Archdiocese for the Military Services in the US estimates that 50 priests were prevented from celebrating Mass on military bases on Sunday, October 6, because of a policy barring civilian chaplains during the federal government shutdown.

Although the US House of Representatives voted 400 to 1 to allow civilian chaplains on bases, and the Defense Department announced that it was recalling civilian employees, these policies apparently came too late to allow some chaplains to administer the sacraments. Chaplains have been assured that they will be able to resume normal schedules this coming Sunday.

Chaplains who were not active-duty members of the armed forces were prohibited from celebrating Mass because of a policy that barred contractual employees from military bases during the government shutdown.

One Catholic priest who was stopped from celebrating Mass at a base in Georgia, Father Ray Leonard, reported: “My parishioners were upset. They were angry and dismayed. They couldn’t believe that in America they’d be denied access to Mass by the government.”


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  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Oct. 10, 2013 7:56 AM ET USA

    Civilian chaplains should have been declared "essential" personnel during the shutdown furlough: report to work but not get paid until the shutdown ends and funds are appropriated. This was a test case. The regime is testing to see how far they can go. The funding issue was just the excuse. Next time, they will try to take more religious freedom away on a different pretext. PS, I wonder if any imams were told to stay off military installations.

  • Posted by: tonydecker513018861 - Oct. 09, 2013 10:23 PM ET USA

    Those who were surprised by not being able to attend mass have not been paying attention.

  • Posted by: rpp - Oct. 09, 2013 3:18 PM ET USA

    If some, including bishops, think the idea that secularism is somehow religiously neutral, or that Religious freedom in the USA is guaranteed because the Constitution says it is, may want re-think their attitudes in light if this.