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Let Us Pray? Not At Quantico, Or Government Shutdown Means Priest Could Be Jailed

The priest stationed on base is a government contractor and risks arrest if he ministers on base during a shutdown, an attorney for the Archdiocese for the Military Services said.

A Catholic Mass. Photo credit: Rachel Hatzipanagos
A Catholic Mass. Photo credit: Rachel Hatzipanagos
Note: Services will proceed as scheduled this weekend at Quantico. Read the story here.

Members of the military stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico will not be able to attend Sunday Mass on base if the government shutdown continues, the Archdiocese for the Military Services said Thursday. 

The priest who celebrates weekly Mass is a government contractor because there is a shortage of active-duty Catholic military chaplains, said John Schlageter, an attorney for the archdiocese. 

"With the government shutdown, [General Schedule] and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer," Schlageter wrote. "During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so."

Patch could not immediately reach officials at Quantico for comment. It was unclear if there were also shortages of chaplains of other religions. However, military chaplains are appointed to serve members of all religions. 

Fans of the Archdiocese immediately posted outrage on Facebook.
"Unbelievable! I was worried about this because our priest is contracted as well. It is bad enough to be furloughed but to not have a Mass to attend, is a real downer," one wrote. 

"Just one example, a couple is getting married tomorrow at a large Air Force Base that is staffed by a Contract priest. That priest did all of their marriage prep, and has gotten to know the couple very well over the past few months," another wrote. "But with the shutdown, he cannot perform their wedding. Instead of the priest that the couple has come to know and love, an active duty priest has to be sent in to perform the wedding of two people who are strangers to him and he to them."

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