Nov 16, 2010

Without priests, Catholic military personnel seeking out Protestant pastors :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Without priests, Catholic military personnel seeking out Protestant pastors :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

I grew up on US military bases and can speak to the lack of Catholic presence on military bases. I didn't even realize there were Catholic soldiers till I was much older. There were Catholic Masses, but they weren't very well attended. Most, of the few who attended church regularly, went to the Protestant services. The Protestants may complain that the services were pretty basic and very ecumenical. Since the services were for all Protestants, there were a lot more people to attend them. Most on the bases my dad was stationed at, however, rarely went to church. The military's stance seems to be that we will allow space for our soldiers to attend services, and when able time for them to, but we don't really care which services they attend. Most military bases had Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish services. Now, the military recognizes many other religious identities as permissible and allowable for space on the military bases.

The US military is a global force. With fewer than 300 priests to serve the entire armed forces of the US military, all five branches and the millions of soldiers, is it any wonder that Catholics are going to Protestant services? At least then, they may hear the gospel, but it mayn't align with the teachings of the Catholic church. A standard of the Church is that Catholics are required to attend Mass on Sunday, or Saturday as a concession to those who work Sundays. Without the priests to lead the Mass, there simply isn't a Mass for soldiers to attend.

What are your thoughts?