On Saturday, the United States House of Representatives voted 400-1 to pass HCR 58, which calls on Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to allow religious services on military bases during the government shutdown.
Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a U.S. Air Force chaplain and Iraq war veteran, introduced the resolution after an op-ed was written by John Schlageter, General Counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. In the op-ed, Schlageter disclosed that non-active duty Catholic priests (who have been contracted to celebrate Mass for servicemen and women on military bases) have been ordered not to work or volunteer their priestly services for the duration of the federal government shutdown. This makes it impossible for military men and women in some locations to attend Mass.
“At a time when the military is considering alternative sources of funding for sporting events at the service academies, no one seems to be looking for funding to ensure the Free Exercise rights of Catholics in uniform. Why not?”
After the resolution was approved by the House, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, said:
“Military personnel enjoy, like all Americans, the First Amendment guarantee of the ‘Free Exercise’ of religion. In the current political climate, however, nothing can be taken for granted. I am grateful to Representative Collins and the many other House members who recognized the importance of passing this resolution, which reflects the seriousness with which the American people take their Free Exercise rights. It can only be hoped that the members of the US Senate will act decisively in order to favor the same First Amendment rights.”
The resolution still needs to be voted on by the United States Senate. Read the full story here.