Saturday, February 4, 2012

Military Chaplains and Birth Control Policy

Chaplains are part of the military, which is under the command of the president. What happen when their military role conflicts with their religious one?

Brian Montopoli reports at CBS:
During church services on Sunday, Catholics around the country were read a blistering letter assailing the Obama administration for an "assault on religious liberty" in the form of a coming requirement that most church-linked organizations - among them hospitals, schools and universities - offer birth control coverage as part of their health care plans. 
Business Insider reports:

Even Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who is in charge of Catholic military chaplains sent out the same letter.

But after he did, the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains sent out another communication forbidding Catholic priests to read the letter, in part because it seemed to encourage civil disobedience, and could be read as seditious against the Commander-in-Chief.

More than one Catholic chaplain who spoke to us off the record confirmed that many chaplains disobeyed this instruction and read the letter anyway. Others sought further instructions from their Archbishop.

Now after much behind-the-scenes bureaucratic wrangling, a new version of the letter will be read, one that was edited of the language about "unjust laws."

... It's an issue that Catholic chaplains are taking very seriously in private. We obtained a confidential letter sent to the chaplains that prepares priests to contact the Military Archdiocesan lawyer in case of more interference or any punishment.

The Archdiocese believes that any attempt to keep a chaplain from freely teaching and preaching the Catholic faith, for which you were endorsed, is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. If any of you are in any way punished or slated for punitive action, I ask that you kindly call our Archdiocesan Attorney, John L. Schlageter, Esq. at 202-719-3635 and he will immediately place you into contact with a Religious Freedom Law Firm that will be most willing to take your case free of charge.