Jesus saves … but the US Navy cuts. In a strange budget maneuver, the Navy has decided to end its contracts with outside ministries to provide religious services to its officers and enlisted personnel, relying instead entirely on its chaplain corps. That has the material effect of curtailing access to Catholic Masses, a point noticed in San Diego by the Union-Tribune. It appears that the policy is nationwide, however:
Catholic Masses at San Diego-area Navy bases have ended because the Navy, in what it says is a cost-cutting move, has declined to renew its contracts with Catholic priests, and there are not enough Catholic chaplains on active duty to fill the void.
Protestant services on bases, which are led by active duty chaplains, will continue, said Brian O’Rourke, a Navy Region Southwest spokesman.
The changes to the Navy’s religious ministries are part of a national realignment announced on Aug. 20. It is unclear how many priests this will affect. …
While the Navy has an active duty component of clergy — the Chaplain Corps —
reflecting a worldwide shortage of Catholic priests. To make up for that shortage, the service contracted with priests to lead Catholic services on U.S. bases.
Those contracts are the ones being canceled.
The net effect is that Catholics on Navy bases in the US no longer have access to on-base Mass. (Overseas bases and ships at sea will continue to have Catholic Mass.) That matters, Navy personnel say, because that gave them a sense of heightened community that simply going out to off-base parishes won’t provide. The disparity between access to religious services will also undermine morale and the sense of broader community on naval bases, as Catholics will certainly see this as differential treatment.
The above comes from a Sept. 7 story on Hot Air.