“Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak out because I was not Catholic” was the third stanza in a poem by Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller, who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for seven years because he spoke against the denial of religious freedom to worship as each individual sees fit. His theme centers around the “Silence is Consent” mantra of Germans who alleged that they knew nothing about the gas fumes circling the country’s forests.
Well, last weekend, here in America, our First Amendment Right of Religious Freedom was silenced by an edict from on high that banned 50 Catholic contract priests from holding Catholic Mass for US Troops over the weekend, along with other religious services throughout this week because a little less than 20% of our government is shut down.
Unheard of in America, hard to believe in America; but “It’s Happening,” said former Army Chaplain Father James C. Bowman, of St. Anastasia Parish in Ft. Pierce, FL. Hundreds of thousands of military personnel and their families in all branches of the service are being persecuted by the Obama Administration. “They can’t be anointed,” Father Bowman decried, referring to the priest administering Last Rites of the Catholic Church at the time of death. The military members confined to their bases, such as trainees, “are not allowed funerals, not allowed the Sacraments of Penance, Holy Communion, Holy Matrimony, or Baptisms!” In very practical terms, “it means Sunday mass won’t be offered,” said Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. “If someone has a Baptism scheduled, it won’t be celebrated.”
Military installations are served by non-active duty priests hired by the Army and other branches to serve as government contractors because of a shortage of active duty Catholic chaplains. Broglio said, “Some military bases have forbidden the contract priests from volunteering to celebrate mass without pay,” according to information sent to CiR this Sunday. Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said, “I find it alarming that these priests cannot even volunteer to provide services without threat of arrest.” This same news release cites a priest at Joint Base Langley-Eustis who was banned from “officiating at the wedding of a couple he’d been counseling!”
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League calls what happened last weekend a “stunning statement.” He goes on to say, “In American history there has been no administration more anti-Catholic than the Obama administration.” Denying Catholic men and women the opportunity of the Sacraments and the ability to deal with their prayerful vocations is “meanness,” he said. “This idea of punishing Catholics in the military-denying them their priests-is consistent with the animus this administration has demonstrated,” he added.
While the House has saved Obama from himself with a 400 to 1 vote to fund the priests who minister to Catholics on military bases, we have been given a good look at what he is all about. Anybody like what they see?