For the second week in a row, the Obama administration has barred approximately 50 Catholic priests from saying Mass and administering other sacraments at military facilities and a chaplain has had enough.
Father Ray Leonard, who serves as the Catholic chaplain at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, filed suit in federal district court Monday, CNS News reported.
In saying the government shutdown is preventing him from providing religious services, even voluntarily, Leonard named the Defense Department, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Department of the Navy, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in the lawsuit.
After consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, Hagel determining that Catholic priests, working under contract as chaplains, did not “contribute to the morale” and “well-being” of service personnel, according to CNS News.
To repeat, a chaplain does not contribute to the morale and well-being of an individual.
The report said the Defense Department went so far as to lock up the chapel and sequester the Holy Eucharist inside it at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay — Catholics believe the Holy Eucharist is literally the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
“The doors to the Kings Bay Chapel were locked on October 4, 2013, with the Holy Eucharist, Holy water, Catholic hymn books, and vessels all locked inside,” said Father Leonard’s lawsuit. “Father Leonard and his parishioners, including Fred Naylor, were prohibited from entering.”
Leonard and Naylor, a co-plaintiff and a veteran who attends services, said their First Amendment right of religious expression and outreach was being violated.
Ironically, Father Leonard spent a decade in Tibet and likened the Obama administration’s behavior to that of the regime in the People’s Republic of China, CNS News reported.
“In China, I was disallowed from performing public religious services due to the lack of religious freedom in China,” he said in a statement. “I never imagined that when I returned home to the United States, that I would be forbidden from practicing my religious beliefs as I am called to do, and would be forbidden from helping and serving my faith community.”
A sobering comment that adds perspective to charge made by some that the Obama administration continues to engage in the persecution of Christians in America.