The article from CNSNews pretty much sums it up:
After the Obama administration, for the second Sunday in a row, continued to prohibit approximately 50 Catholic priests from saying Mass and administering other sacraments at U.S. military facilities around the world, Father Ray Leonard, who serves as the Catholic chaplain at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, filed suit Monday against the Department of Defense, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Department of the Navy, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
DOD is prohibiting Father Leonard and the other Catholic priests from administering the sacraments and providing other services to their congregations even though two weeks ago Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed, a law that instructed DOD to maintain on the job and keep paying contract employees who were supporting the troops.
DOD took this action because Hagel determined–after consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department–that civilian Catholic priests, working under contract as chaplains, did not, among other things, “contribute to the morale” and “well-being” of service personnel.
Whoa! Attending Mass and going to Confession does nothing for morale or contribute to well-being? Where in the hell did Hagel get that idea?
Idiotic reasoning aside, despite some truly institutional prejudices since our nation’s inception and deep seated disagreements on how Christianity should be practiced, government sponsored denial of priests’ rights to minister in the United States has not been in force since, well, since we declared independence from England over 200 years ago.
History lesson, Mr. Hagel: That was part of the whole point of the fight: freedom to worship as one saw fit. At the time Catholicism was outlawed in the British Empire.
Now, thanks to an administration hell bent on causing as much pain to the people as possible just because they can, a civilian chaplain for the NAVY – the branch of service that has always been so heavily Catholic, the chapel at the academy is a Gothic Catholic Church – has to sue just to be able to administer sacraments.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
It’s not like any one priest can’t set up in the open across the street from the base with permission of his bishop and say Mass and hear confessions until everyone is through the line, but the entire thought that this would be happening in a country founded on the concept of religious freedom is downright wrong. This is not what we are about. This is not the American way.
And just so that the Obama administration understands, this ain’t remotely the first or only regime on the planet currently, let alone in the last 2,000 years, to deny Catholics the sacraments just because they could do it.
Father Leonard, who spent a decade serving the Tibetan population in China, likened the administration’s behavior to that of the regime in the People’s Republic.
“In China, I was disallowed from performing public religious services due to the lack of religious freedom in China,” Father Leonard said in a statement. “I never imagined that when I returned home to the United States, that I would be forbidden from practicing my religious beliefs as I am called to do, and would be forbidden from helping and serving my faith community.”
Catholic priests serve under such conditions all over the world. In one way, they are accustomed to it (and we hear about it every time a missionary comes to visit and say Mass. It’s an annual thing at least for us). But now, priests are forced to serve under missionary conditions in a country that is supposed to be free.
Talk about learning to be a martyr fast.
The Obama administration may not realize this, but denying Catholics the sacraments just makes most of us want them more. There is nothing more peaceful than an hour spent in Adoration (when the Eucharist is exposed in a Monstrance), the cleansing of spirit that comes with receiving Penance (Confession), and the power of Eucharist to heal a sickness in the soul (I’m here to testify that it happens. For me, Good Friday, 2009. It was real, and yes, I felt it).
The very parts of the Faith denied in this go around are what got us through repression and oppression in any number of places in the last couple millennia, and believers will go to great lengths to get to Mass. It’s what helps us make sense of life, and put some order to living.
How can this not but help morale?
Therein is the irony. And no, Mssrs. Obama and Hagel, irony is not something you will find in the laundry room. It is the notion that denying people who face death in exchange for your freedom that which will strengthen them and give them courage is going to boost morale. It is the idea that being Catholic, and receiving Eucharist, and forgiveness from Almighty God, is somehow detrimental to the U.S. Military which is systematically being destroyed by policies antithetical to efficiency and cohesion, necessary attributes to any fighting force.
This is just another nail in the coffin that is the Obama Administration. It is an unAmerican joke, and at this point even the most hard-headed true believer is starting to be uncomfortable with the moves they are making.
Denial of Freedom of Religion to members of the military? It doesn’t get much lower or unAmerican than that.
Vaya con Dios, Father Leonard. You are in our prayers.