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Cruel Twist in Government Shutdown for Navy Yard Shooting Survivors

No money for religion.

Religious services canceled at Navy Yard, scene of mass shooting. (Patch file photo by Rachel Hatzipanagos.)
Religious services canceled at Navy Yard, scene of mass shooting. (Patch file photo by Rachel Hatzipanagos.)
By Todd Richissin and Mary Stachyra Lopez

The government shutdown apparently does not discriminate based on compassion, as survivors of last month's Navy Yard shooting now know. Catholic Masses on the installation have been canceled because it has no priests to minister.

The military relies heavily on contractors to lead religious services, especially for Catholics, who make up approximately 25 percent of the armed services but only 8 percent of its chaplain corp.

Translated: About 275,000 men and women in uniform, and their families, are served by only 234 active-duty priests. Any religions that do not have an active-duty minister, or are able to work out alternative sources of funding, will not be able to have services on base. 

"Navy Yard is not able to have services," said Taylor Henry, spokesman for the Archdiocese for the Military Services. "Services have been moved to Bolling."

Navy Yard does have an active-duty priest, but the priest at Anacostia-Bolling was furloughed. The priest moved Sunday services to Anacostia-Bolling because it has the larger chapel, leaving nobody to say Mass at Navy Yard. 

The Washington Navy Yard, where many military work, was the scene of a mass shooting last month, which killed 12 people.

The inability to find funding to continue services hasn't been taken kneeling down. 

John Schlageter, general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, published a piece Thursday on the organization's web site, referring to the annual Army-Navy football game, which was scheduled to be played as usual Saturday.

"At a time when the military is considering alternative sources of funding for sporting events at the service academies, no one seems to be looking for funding to ensure the Free Exercise rights of Catholics in uniform," he wrote. "Why not?"
Bob English October 07, 2013 at 04:18 PM
There are Muslim men and women serving in the United States Military and in police and fire departments. Maybe all of the religious bigots here should think about that before making any more of your nutty posts.
Bob English October 07, 2013 at 04:20 PM
@Art...dont make any more stupid misinformed remarks about people you dont know. I dont get a penny from the govt.
jack london October 08, 2013 at 11:14 PM
For everybody with opinion about who is at fault - this is about members of the military who want to go to Mass on the base. It's not about Obama or Catholic priests or scandals or Muslims. Why don't you try resetting your opinion priorities.
nonoise October 09, 2013 at 11:18 AM
It is about the priest and Catholic church. Why don't they work for free?? Why don't they reconsider their priorities?
David H. Mirsky October 09, 2013 at 12:41 PM
President Obama has worked actively in favor of religious tolerance, as any US President should. People of all faiths are entitled to the freedom to practice their religions in America, which is a foundation of Our Constitution as set forth in the First Amendment. If you don't like that, move somewhere else.

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