January 27, 2013

As sin becomes a civil right, Catholic military chaplains could soon become outlaws

By Father George Rutler

The Geneva Convention’s classification of military chaplains as noncombatants has traditionally been interpreted in the United States to mean that chaplains normally do not carry weapons. This often puts them in precarious positions when they are in war zones. Over four hundred chaplains have been killed in the line of duty. Catholic chaplains are especially exposed to dangerous situations by their obligation to administer Absolution and Anointing. They have received every kind of decoration for valor, and seven have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

All four chaplains awarded the Medal since the Civil War have been Catholic. Among them, Lieutenant Vincent Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest and Navy chaplain, who served with the Marine Corps and was killed while aiding the second Platoon of M Company at the battle of Dong Son in Vietnam, has been proposed for heaven’s highest honor, canonization as a saint.

The military chaplaincy is under threat by our own government as part of its social agenda. One year ago, the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains tried to forbid Catholic chaplains from reading a statement from the Military Ordinary, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who oversees all priests in the Catholic Ordinariate for the Armed Forces, in which he objected to federally mandated health insurance covering sterilization, abortifacients and contraception in violation of the right to religious freedom. Now the government would compel chaplains to acquiesce in “same-sex” simulations of marriage. The Army’s deputy chief of staff in charge of personnel has said that military members who dissent from this agenda are “bigoted” and “need to get out.”

As behavior contrary to Christian morality becomes a civil right, Catholics in particular could soon become, quite literally, outlaws. Our current President recently announced that he will disobey a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by his own hand, which states that chaplains cannot be forced “to perform any rite, ritual or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs of the chaplain.”

I am always edified by the sacrificing spirit of good soldiers, and as a chaplain to West Point alumni here in New York, I am pleased when cadets serve at Mass. Governments that have tried to manipulate soldiers and doctors and teachers in perverse ways have always had a short shelf life. The nineteenth-century French political philosopher Frédéric Bastiat warned: “When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”

Military chaplains do not bear arms, but they have recourse to another arsenal: “Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect” (Ephesians 6:11).


  1. Remarriage after civil divorce is a sin according to Jesus--adultery, to be specific--but I don't see any movement by Catholics to stop it.

    The idea that Catholic military chaplains will be forced to perform same-sex marriages is absurd--unless you can give an example in the USA of any Catholic priest being forced to perform ANY marriage involving a merely civilly divorced heterosexual.

  2. We have to be constantly vigilant.

    This administration is already trying to force Catholics to pay for and provide "services" which are evil.

    The agenda of these people is unholy, but they think it is holy, and they will see anything contrary to it as being without rights.

    Homosexuality and other things are seen as rights, and any opposition to them as being "hateful".

  3. Jack, a few words into your comment I stopped reading. And I hope others too will not take seriously what you have said. Because what you have said is just untrue. Too many examples could be listed to refute your distortion of the truth and what is good. It is against you and others like you us Catholics will live our lives, fighting against your hypocrisy and hate, and fighting for a Faith you do not define, though you want to.

  4. Hey Jack! The directives are not "forcing" the chaplains to perform SSM's. What it will do is force them out of the military. That's OK. Jesus Christ promised the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. Obviously you ignored the quote from the French philosopher Frédéric Bastiat. What awaits our country if we do not repent, CATASTROPHE.

  5. When 50% of Catholics voted in an Administration that promotes everything were against and only a handful of Bishops and Priests spoke up what else do you expect ? Now millions of innocent lives will be lost from a President that is obsessed with abortion. Quite a large percentage difference versus the above. Catholic Church needs to step up to the plate and not look to win a popularity ( attendance) contest. This was a huge blow to Christianity and it keeps going

    1. It's not that 50% of Catholics voted in favor of anything, it's more that we just realized that we have 50% less Catholics than we though we had. There is no such thing as a Catholic who believes abortion is ok and votes for it, they are NOT Catholic. I agree with you that we need more sound off from all our leaders. In the end the church will prevail, but we all have to pray!

  6. One thing I learned as a military chaplain(24yrs); when you don't, "Play by the rules", your military career is just about over. How long do you think the Services will tolerate 'dissent' by Catholic priests, for that is exactly what it will be seen as by the brass, and ashamedly by too many fellow chaplains. Too many times the Church has acted as if, "That can't really happen", only to see it happen and become a stepping stone for more to come. Perhaps we should begin singing, 'Onward Christian Soldiers' in every military chapel. This, of course, until we are told we are too, "militaristic".

  7. While I do care about your liberties, I fear that as Catholics we are failing to grasp the legal implications here. This is not about taking away your freedom to religious speech etc. it is fully about redefining what a parent is. Parents will no longer be legally related to their own children if this law is passed. Read this and start boxing clever. nobody in the mainstream cares about religious rights. The world hates us. http://gentlemind.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/marriage-is-television-not-radio.html?m=1

  8. The reason why parenthood is the real definition of what marriage is, is because parenthood existed before marriage, marriage merely gave it protection and legal terms. This legislation redefines parents and makes them unrelated to their own off spring 'All marriages exist, in principle, to bind procreation to parenting because all marriages meet the principle of procreation. Individual fertility and age and use of contraception do not break this principle, as long as they occur within the one relationship that meets that principle. The purpose of marriage remains, even if it never fulfils its purpose. Marriage is defined according to what it does (bind procreation to parenthood) rather than what it is (a sexual relationship). A sexual relationship does not have to be permanent or exclusive. A sexual relationship does not describe marriage. Travel describes a car. Parenthood describes a marriage

    Proponents want there to be no link between marriage and procreation (on the grounds that the infertile etc can marry), while simultaneously knowing that a right to marry will be accompanied by a right to access a child, and while asserting that marriage is necessary to protect children they are already raising. Thus their claim for “Equal marriage” is at once an acknowledgement of, and a denial of, the link between marriage and children

  9. Lolalola,

    Contraception is evil and IT IS A SIN for it is an enabler to fornication and adultery. The sexual act is perfect only within the confines of marriage. And it is perfect when it is open to life, our union (THOSE WHO ARE TRUE CHRISTIANS)should mirror the HOLY TRINITY. For the perfect love between the FATHER and the SON manifested itself into another PERSON - the HOLY SPIRIT. Folks this is THEOLOGY, this is NATURAL LAW. Contraception is a sin because it blocks the flow of the perfect union between a man and a woman AND when the contraception fail most people move to PLAN B-- ABORTION.

    OPEN UP YOUR EYES PEOPLE, see the snow ball that became the avalanche of DESTRUCTION. CONTRACEPTION---LEADS to ABORTION.

  10. "As behavior contrary to Christian morality becomes a civil right, Catholics in particular could soon become, quite literally, outlaws"
    Indeed. Outside of man's law, because 'the gov'ts giveth and the gov'ts taketh away.' But what is a Christian doing in the military, anyway? Jesus set the identifying mark for his disciples, and it wasn't a uniform. "A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another." John 13:34,35, Douay. How did he express that love? Not by going to war with anyone, but by dying himself for the benefit of observant Christians. "my disciples." Yet chaplains are required by their employers to encourage soldiers- Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, atheists- to ‘go forth and decimate’.

  11. I know that Angelus, but nobody in the mainstream is going to take that view in board. Box clever. Read this: If we need to change the definition of something in order to access the right to do that something, we are simultaneously showing we have no right to do that something since, if we have the right, we do not need to change the definition. The very fact that same-sex marriage is only made possible through changing the definition of marriage shows that there is no right to a same-sex marriage. The definition of marriage is not a special definition that allows us to “marry without being able to marry”. The definition works on the same basis as everything else: principles. If we meet the definition, the right is ours. The only people who think the definition is somehow special are those seeking to change the definition. They believe marriage to be a word unique in history: a word that we can change the definition of…without changing the definition.

    As same-sex parenthood is not physically possible, neither is same-sex marriage. As same-sex marriage is not physically possible, there is only one entity in the world that can ever create it: man-made law. Same-sex marriage is being “legalised”, because that is the only way it can ever exist. The cost of inventing the legal fiction of same-sex marriage is that we will have to legally pretend that parents and children are not physically related. That is what happens when we seek to legally redefine nature: nature legally disappears. (Quoting gentlemind's blog)

  12. Jack,

    there was, in fact, a huge Catholic movement against remarriage after divorce, remember St. Thomas More? Beheadings? Henry VIII? The Church lost that battle a long time ago.

  13. Archbishop Broglio, may the Holy Spirit give you the strength not to withdraw Catholic military chaplains, but to be a witness to the truth by withstanding any coming persecution!