Proving once again that Donald Trump is a friend to America’s religious communities, the president reversed a Navy cost-cutting decision that would result in not renewing the contracts of priests serving Catholic naval personnel. Trump tweeted, “The United States Navy, or the Department of Defense, will NOT be canceling its contract with Catholic Priests who serve our men and women in the Armed Forces so well, and with such great compassion & skill. This will no longer be even a point of conversation @CardinalDolan.”
The Archbishop Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, responded to the move by the Navy on Tuesday, urging them to reconsider.
For some time now, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, has been engaged with the Navy Chief of Chaplains and has been trying to meet with those responsible for this decision. Archbishop Broglio noted the savings from cancelling these contracts amounts to a mere 250-thousand dollars–approximately 0.000156% of the Navy’s budget. “It is difficult to fathom how the First Amendment rights of the largest faith group in the Navy can be compromised for such an insignificant sum,” Archbishop Broglio said. His Excellency expressed hope the Navy will reconsider the decision.
U.S. Navy chaplains serve the pastoral needs not only of the Navy but also the Marines and the Coast Guard. Currently, due to a nationwide shortage of Catholic priests, only 48 priests serve as active-duty Navy chaplains, hardly enough to meet the pastoral needs of more than 135-thousand Catholics now on active duty in all three service branches, plus their families. The Catholic Church depends on civilian priests under contract with the Department of Defense to fill the gap. If the Navy follows through with its decision to begin cancelling those contracts, Catholics who serve will be deprived of their First Amendment right to exercise their religion, casting doubt on the constitutional validity of the move.
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Catholic service members can breathe a sigh of relief, as the commander-in-chief has reversed the Navy’s decision, making it clear that Mass will not be canceled on U.S. Military bases. One has to wonder who in the Navy is behind this anti-Catholic flub. Their records may need a good scouring to find out who else they’re trying to disenfranchise when no one is looking.
The quick reversal of the policy, like the recent flap between President Trump and Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, points to a tension between the president and top brass in the military. Esper publicly disagreed with the president about invoking the Insurrection Act to quell the riots across the country indicating that the military might not obey orders.
Two days after Trump said he might need to send active-duty troops to help police combat lawlessness in major cities — even if governors did not want the troops — Esper told reporters Wednesday he did not see the urgency in adding regular troops to the thousands of National Guard forces now backing up American police.
“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations,” Esper said. “We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” he added, a reference to the 1807 law that Trump would have to invoke to deploy active-duty troops for law enforcement.
Is Trump sure Esper is the right man for this job? Would there even be a question of military loyalty to the president if Barack Obama had not fired 197 officers and replaced them with his hand-picked people? Why hasn’t the president removed them yet? Anyone loyal to the Obama administration is loyal to the “Russia conspirators” who falsified FISA warrants to illegally wiretap a presidential candidate and his team, too. If the Democrats are planning a real coup in November, including having Trump dragged out by the military (which is an actual possibility in 2020 and you know it), shouldn’t he be more concerned with who is giving orders these days? I hope it’s people who intend on obeying their CIC and not a bunch of fraggers.