Catholic Review: Dismissing Priests? - Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien
[...] The advisability of a column was confirmed during last week’s visit to Rome to attend the Consistory during which our Holy Father welcomed 24 prelates into the College of Cardinals. While staying at the North American College, I enjoyed a reunion with some Navy priests just forcibly retired from active duty. Six of the seven are concluding their course at the Institute for Continuing Theological Education sponsored by the College.Please read the entire column. The story is not likely to be covered elsewhere and affects Catholic Military men and women and their families. The situation is indeed unacceptable!
These seven priests are healthy, energetic and ever so dedicated in their priestly ministry to our personnel. Most will soon pastor vibrant civilian parishes. They have been “banished” from the Navy’s chaplaincy because they have reached the statutory age limit of 62. This need not have been so, however. The Army and Air Force make exceptions on such retirements for critical needs such as those in the medical profession and the Chaplain Corps as well. The Navy has made similar exceptions – but the Chief of Chaplains now refuses to do so for priests, leaving countless numbers of young Catholics in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard – many in harm’s way – increasingly without the ministry of a priest. Is this simply a question of lack of sensitivity or, indeed, of discrimination? I hope it is not the latter. The situation is grave and will only get far worse unless someone intervenes to reverse the policy.
It is my understanding that my fine but frustrated successor as Archbishop for the Military Services, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, has pleaded with military leaders at very high levels to show some concern for those of our Faith, but the new mantra of the Chaplain Corps is said to be: A chaplain is a chaplain, is a chaplain, is a chaplain. In other words, it makes no difference what religious needs you have as long as there is a chaplain of any denomination nearby. For Catholics, this is unacceptable! [...]