Skip to comments.Government Shuts down Catholic Services on Navy Base; Thomas More Law Center Files Lawsuit
Posted on 10/14/2013 12:48:41 PM PDT by Thomas_More_Law
In the wake of the government shutdown, despite provisions in the Pay Our Military Act, Catholics at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia are being denied religious services. The Catholic priest who serves this community has been prohibited from even volunteering to celebrate Holy Mass without pay, and was told that if he violated that order, he could be subject to arrest. Protestant services continue to take place. Only Catholic services have been shutdown.
This is an astonishing attack on religious freedom by the federal government, and the latest affront towards the military since the beginning of the shutdown.
As a result, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, today, filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Father Ray Leonard, a Catholic priest contracted to serve as base chaplain and Fred Naylor, one of Father Leonards parishioners and a retired veteran with over 22 years of service. Fr. Leonard is a civilian Catholic Pastor contracted by the Department of Defense (DoD) to serve as a military chaplain at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia.
Fr. Leonard who served Tibetan populations in China for 10 years, informed the court in an affidavit; In China, I was disallowed from performing public religious services due to the lack of religious freedom in China. 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.
On October 4, 2013, Fr. Leonard was ordered to stop performing all of his duties as the bases Catholic Chaplain, even on a voluntary basis. He was also told that he could be arrested if he violated that order. The approximately 300 Catholic families, including Fred Naylors, served by Fr. Leonard at Kings Bay have been unable to attend Mass on base since the beginning of the shutdown.
Additionally, Fr. Leonard was locked out of his on-base office and the chapel. Fr. Leonard was also denied access to the Holy Eucharist and other articles of his Catholic faith. The order has caused the cancellation of daily and weekend mass, confession, marriage preparation classes and baptisms as well as prevented Fr. Leonard from providing the spiritual guidance he was called by his faith to provide.
The submarine base is remotely located. It consists of roughly 16,000 acres, with 4,000 acres comprised of protected wetlands. There are approximately 10,000 total people on the base.
A Catholic Church is located off base in the town of St. Marys. However, many of the parishioners both live and work on base and do not own a car and cannot otherwise access transportation. Therefore a sixteen (16) mile journey to and from the off-base church is simply not possible. Moreover, many of the sailors have an extremely limited amount of time off. With their time highly regimented, they are not given a long enough break time for this exceptionally long walk and the Mass service.
Defendants in the lawsuit are the Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Department of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Department of the Navy, Ray Mabus.
Currently, about 25% of the US Armed Forces is Catholic and due to a shortage of active duty Catholic Priests, the DoD contracts Catholic Priests to provide religious services, sacraments and support for other religious practices for military base communities. Catholic Priests serve the Military Archdiocese.
For active duty service members, on base religious services are extremely important given issues associated with off base transportation, extremely limited time off and the highly scheduled lifestyle of active military duty. Additionally, as service members tend to have high rates of divorce, depression and suicide, the need for readily available spiritual encouragement and guidance is critical.
The Pay Our Military Act, which was enacted before the beginning of the government shutdown, provides provisions for the funding of employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale and well-being of the military. The government has previously been criticized for interpreting the Act to not include military death benefits. Now, in yet another bizarre interpretation of the Act, some chaplains are not considered covered by these provisions, leaving Catholic members of some military facilities without spiritual guidance.
yes! Go Thomas More!
I wish I could find a Catholic firm to work for.
The Catholic priest who serves this community has been prohibited from even volunteering to celebrate Holy Mass without pay
This is what righeousness looks like...
Something Barry wouldnt know about if it bit him in the butt..
This man is willing to serve God and our troops without pay..
Barry demands to be paid to serve himself...
I bet the Moslem imams are paid and encouraged to moan their hateful gibberish...
Father should let them arrest him.
Protestant services continue to take place. Only Catholic services have been shutdown.
How can this be?
“Additionally, Fr. Leonard was locked out of his on-base office and the chapel. Fr. Leonard was also denied access to the Holy Eucharist...”
Ok. The Eucharist is Christ and the summit of our faith.
The line is crossed.
Not enough priests that are active service. The priest in this article was hired by the government to perform the sacrament for the Catholics on base.
Priests have died for attempting to give the sacraments.
Being arrested is a piece of cake.
Will your firm be participating in FR’s discussions, or just posting articles from your website?
Not being there, just having read the article, I'll take a stab at it. I don't mean to offend, but will use my natural candor(tm).
Protestants, if the minister is gone, will still meet, sing, pray together, and do an ad hoc Bible study. They don't center it all around a liturgy.
Catholics, being less into the Bible as a means of self-study (generally speaking, not desiring to offend) and more liturgical, may feel that since the priest is not there to conduct the liturgy, a service cannot take place.
Disclaimer: I am a former Protestant who became Orthodox. This is a GUESS, it's my best interpretation of the article. It would still hold true that the Protestants can't worship any more than the Catholics, it's just that they're so decentralized in organization that it wouldn't stop them from doing something.
Couple that with my guess that the author of the article might be Catholic, and not understand the difference in religious practices, yes, it would appear that the two denominations are being treated disparately.
P.S.: Yes, the article made me very mad, too! Please don't imagine that other denominations are snickering at the Roman Catholics, because we aren't.
First they came for the Roman Catholics...etc., you know the old saying from the Hitler era.
Protestants can worship all day long without a preacher, who is only sort of a teacher or messenger, he is not the leader, he is not necessary to the plot of you and me coming to Jesus.
If you require someone else to be involved, although it might be nicer or more comfortable, I wouldn’t call it Christian.
There is certainly no offense taken...seriously.
However, you should know that, for Catholics, the priest is essential in that he is the only one who can consecrate the bread and wine for its transubstantiation to the Body and Blood of Christ (per John 6). It is also the priest who hears confession. Those two sacraments are extremely important to Catholics...the Eucharist of the Mass being CENTRAL to our Faith and to what we believe Jesus taught us to do.
I noticed the date of this was October 14th...even though I thought (I suppose incorrectly) that this issue had been taken care of by the Marxist gov’t leaders over the weekend.
Fr. Leonard was also denied access to the Holy Eucharist...
THAT was the statement that most angered me.
I was thinking that too.
I guess Martyrs for Catholicism are not what they used to be.
I hate to Judge the Good Father, but IMO he should say mass in the front yard of the Chapel if he has to.
If they arrest him it could bring down the wrath of Catholics all over the country. It SHOULD be bringing down their wrath right now, but I guess Catholics aren’t what they used to be either.
I do know one thing Christians of all denominations are under fire under Muslim CS’er and what they do to Catholics now will be coming around to the rest in good time.
Please don’t imagine that other denominations are snickering at the Roman Catholics, because we aren’t.
Trust me...I don’t think/imagine that. I have many good brothers and sisters in the Faith who do not call themselves *Catholic.*
“The Catholic priest who serves this community has been prohibited from even volunteering to celebrate Holy Mass without pay”
I’m waiting to read stories about the brave priests that will celebrate mass right outside of the gates so that the “disenfranchised” Catholic servicemembers may attend.
There is nothing that says a Catholic needs a Priest to pray or to read the Bible, I don’t know where anyone gets that.
We too can pray without a Priest. That isn;’t the point.
The Point is that the Government is violating the Constitution.. It is performing an illegal act .
Ceratinly as a Catholic I can be somewhere where there is no priest and still pray, but I cannot receive the Sacraments, The Sacraments such as Marriage which is itself under attack.
The Constitution is being shredded and the Catholic basher shows up to spew, all the while being unable to put two and two together to realize that Protestants very well could be next on obama’s evil agenda. Classy.
What a perfect time for this Fr. Leonard to have himself arrested and make sure the press is there like the priest did when Obama spoke at Notre Dame. The Catholic Church is the “big enchilada” for the progs. It must fight back.