“Attacking Catholic Chaplains”?

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf accuses the “Obama administration” of “attacking Catholic chaplains” in the military.

“First,” he says, “the Obama Administration censored Catholics in the military.” He’s referring to the incident in which the Army Chief of Chaplains, CH (MG) Donald Rutherford (a Catholic priest!), suggested a letter from the Archbishop for Military Services, Timothy Broglio, not be read from the pulpit by chaplains, but mentioned, and then distributed afterwards. He was the only one of the chiefs to make this suggestion of his chaplains, and his suggestion was overturned by the Secretary of the Army after Archbishop Broglio went over the head of his own chaplain to complain. So, it wasn’t an issue of “the Obama Administration” censoring anyone–it was a case of an Archbishop having a hissy fit over something his own most senior chaplain did.

“Now,” says “Fr. Z.,” “one of Pres. Obama unelected underlings, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, has by his master’s fiat, let Catholic chaplains know that, in the wake of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, chaplains may now officiate at same-sex ‘marriages’.”

Then, he ominously warns, “From the fact that if they ‘may’, then they in time ‘must’.”

The Under Secretary of Defense did not speak to Catholic chaplains per se, singling them out and telling them they could do something forbidden by Catholic canon law. He said than if same-sex marriages are legal in a state, then chaplains whose teaching allows this may officiate at them. This is not an infringement upon the religious liberty of anyone. Rather, it is a religious accommodation to those whose liberal religious views would permit them to do an act in keeping with some state laws.

Military regulations are already quite specific that no chaplain can be required to conduct ceremonies in violation of his/her faith. That’s enough. The First Amendment and Title X guarantee to all the freedom of worship. The legislation Fr. Zuhlsdorf recommends is not necessary. And in the name of “religious freedom,” some are seeking to explicitly deny that freedom to others with whom they disagree.