One of the unintended consequences of the government shutdown is this: civilian Catholic priests who work for the U.S. Military Archdiocese on a contract basis, are deemed non-essential. As such they are ordered by the military to stop offering Masses and pastoral care to our troops during the shut down. This has also resulted in headaches for families planning weddings and baptism. All this because there is no money to pay them.
The last time I checked priests and other clergymen are not in this line of work for the money. In light of the shutdown, they have volunteered to offer Mass and other religious services on military basis free of charge. The chaplains have been told no. If they attempt to minister to the troops and their families on base, they will be arrested. I hope that this is not a sign of things to come. But even before the government shut down, the exercise of religious freedom in the military was and is becoming more restrictive as is the expression of religious freedom in our country as a whole. Do people not understand or realize what is happening?
Father John Neff, Pastor
St. Luke Catholic Church, Youngsville
St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Sheffield