New regulations sent to Catholic chaplains, on September 18th, by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, describe in detail how Catholic chaplains must act when encountering gay and lesbian people who are in committed relationships.

The rules are apparently in response to the military’s repeal of the “Don’t Ask/ Don’t Tell” policy for service personnel and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this summer to strike down a key component of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Clearly, strong American Catholic military muscle against same-sex unions. The focus and intent, however, are disconcertingly out of sync with the commander back home at headquarters in Rome.

Some weeks ago, remember, when asked about gays, Pope Francis, replied: “If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized.” Most recently Pope Francis criticized his church’s mania for “small-minded rules” and urged it instead to emulate Jesus’ emphasis on serving people rather than excluding them.

My chaplain friends tell me that the new Roman Catholic policies were expected and follow similar guidelines issued in August by the Southern Baptist Convention for its chaplains.

 What the rules specify for Catholic chaplains:


 (1)  Chaplains cannot participate in weddings, blessings, retreats, counseling, or funerals that involve same-gender couples.

(2)  Chaplains may attend ceremonies and functions “as long as the priest is not required to acknowledge or approve of a ‘spouse’ of the same gender.”

(3)   Chaplains must exclude men and women in same-gender relationships from any lay ministries.

(4)  Catholics in military leadership positions, should be directed to discourage any support for same-gender couples; and should be encouraged to abstain from doing work that would provide benefits like housing and healthcare.


JAD Editorial comment:

Last year, Congress approved conscience protections for military members that allow them to express their personal beliefs without fear of punishment.


20 thoughts on “Restricted Ministry for Catholic Chaplains

    1. Yes indeed…I remember being at a US base in Germany when coffins were being unloaded…. from young soldiers who died in Iraq.

  1. Well if that doesn’t illustrate the hypocritical stance of Pope Francis and his public relations rhetoric I don’t know what does. We are just being lulled into a false sense of security while the Church does what it likes and what it has always done: Keep us manageable.

      1. Well then it’s up to Pope Francis to actually lead like he is supposed to and put a stop to all this interference isn’t it? Or is the title Pope worth about as much as the british monarchy?

      2. He’s only been there six months, I think we need to give him some time. After all, he’s having to undo 30 years worth of damage.

      3. Time? 6 months is surely time enough to establish who is running the Church- isn’t it? If not we can look forward to undoing 30 yrs worth of damage when? Next century?

    1. Indeed. It denigrates gay service men and women and is a slap on the face for our chaplains, for whom Ibhave great respect and appreciation.

  2. Catholic military chaplains can hold any opinions they like, but their behavior must be loving, non- discriminatory & comply with the 14th amendment to the US Constitution, which they swore “to protect & defend” towards all comers!
    Or do they again think to defy secular laws??

    1. As JAD knows, I am a retired Active Duty Army Catholic Chaplain, having served for 27 years, and I have never felt my religious freedom to be threatened. A core value of the Army Chaplaincy is to “perform or provide”, something we are justly proud of. We help the soldier and family member who is in front of us, and if we cannot do what they ask, we find someone who can. We do not judge. We serve constantly with other chaplains who do not share our beliefs, and we support each other in taking care of our folks. We might disagree, but we do not condemn each other. I have, and if I were still on active duty would continue to, helped any soldier or family member, any commander, any unit, in any way I could. Also, I strongly resent anyone saying that soldiers I have served honorably and enjoyably with are “intrinsically disordered”.
      More thoughts at

      1. Yes indeed! For a good 30+ years I regularly gave days of recollection for our Catholic chaplains in Europe. They are caring, dedicated, and inspiring Christian ministers.

      1. You have more faith in Francis’ spirit than I have. I do not trust this situation at the Vatican whatsoever. I think we are all being taken in.

      2. That is always a possibility. It happrned with Pope Pius IX. In the first months of his administration people found him warm, friendly, and absolutely wonderful. A year later he showed that he was a despicable, megolomaniic tyrant……

        If Francis ends up beng what you think, I assure you I will be a very thorough and vocal critic.

      3. Thankyou Jack for taking me seriously. I am very worried indeed about the situation. Call it instinct/intuition if you like but I am not a happy bunny. I will be watching the situation very carefully indeed. Best wishes. Mari.

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