Item (bolds are mine; links are in original):
Priests Risk Arrest for Offering Sacraments to Catholic Troops During Shutdown
Some Catholic priests under contract or GS (general schedule) to the military are not allowed to offer the Catholic sacraments–including saying Mass, consecrating marriages, or performing baptisms–on military property during the government shutdown, and if they do, even on a volunteer basis, they risk being arrested, according to the general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.
About 25% of the U.S. military is Catholic, some 275,000 service members, but there are only 234 active-duty priests. To fill the gap, contract or GS priests are brought in. But under the rules of the shutdown, many of those priests cannot perform their religious duties on military bases unless their contracts allow it.
“These men are employed by the government to ensure that a priest is available when an active duty Catholic Chaplain is not present,” said John Schlageter, general counsel for the archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. “With the government shutdown, many 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,” said Schlageter.
Call to Action:
- Good: In coordination with the Archdiocese for the Military Services wherever possible, bishops in areas with affected military installations need, at a minimum, to prepare letters GS priests can carry with them communicating the expectation that Masses will be conducted as usual and that scheduled baptisms will take place.
- Better: With cameras in hand, bishops and auxiliary bishops who can should choose an affected installation in their area, accompany the GS priest, and demand to co-celebrate the Mass on base and to conduct any scheduled baptisms.
- Best: Bishops need to bring as much personal clerical power to bear as they possibly can, including bringing in bishops and auxiliary bishops from other dioceses, to ensure that Masses and scheduled baptisms are conducted on as many affected military installations as possible on Sunday.
This is a direct, completely out-of-bounds assault on freedom of religion conducted by a petty, spiteful, petulant presidential administration which wishes to maximize the pain of the partial (emphasis: partial) government shutdown.
Bishops, who are shepherds of Catholics’ souls, have a serious moral obligation to do all they can to ensure that their flocks receive their weekly spritual nourishment, and that parents bringing their children into the faith can do so as planned.
Time is short, guys.