- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Military members around the world who align with the Catholic faith may have to go without Sunday Mass services, due to the government shutdown and the subsequent ban on contract priests on bases.

The military only has 234 active-duty priests — and they’re called on to serve about 275,000 Catholics, Catholic News Agency reported. So the government contracts with non-active duty priests to fill in the spaces at bases around the world.

But the government shutdown means they can’t continue their duties on military facilities.

“Until the federal government resumes normal operations, or an exemption is granted to contract and [government services] priests, Catholic services are indefinitely suspended” at several installation around the world, said John Schlageter, general counsel for the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, Catholic News Agency reported.

Mr. Schlageter is suggesting congressional members grant authorization for the non-active duty priests to continue their services on military installations. As of now, he said, they “are not permitted to work — not even to volunteer. During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base, and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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