Archbishop: no same sex marriages at West Point chapel

Archbishop: no same sex marriages at West Point chapel October 6, 2011

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may be history, and same sex marriages may be legal in New York State, but the archbishop for the military says you won’t see any of them happening at Catholic chapel of the U.S. military academy in New York:

The Holy Trinity chapel at the military school is a Catholic parish, said Taylor Henry, spokesman for Archbishop Timothy Broglio. As such, it will not “perform the sacrament of matrimony for same-sex couples,” since the Catholic Church does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Henry’s remarks were made to, short for Cybercast News Service, a donation-funded conservative news organization owned by the Media Research Center.The archbishop’s declaration followed release of two memos from high-ranking Department of Defense staffers, including one from the Pentagon’s chief attorney Jeh Johnson that said decisions for use of properties owned by the military should be “sexual-orientation neutral.” A companion memo, which was signed by Clifford L. Stanley, defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness, said military chaplains can follow their own religious beliefs when deciding whether or not to perform same-sex weddings.

Whether same-sex weddings are performed will likely depend largely on where a chapel is located, as well. Many states do not recognize same-sex marriages.

The Johnson memo said that “determinations regarding the use of DOD real property and facilities for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies, should be made on a sexual-orientation neutral basis, provided such use is not prohibited by applicable state and local laws.” It also gave chaplains the ability to “participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law.”

Archbishop Broglio told the Gannett-owned Navy Times he thinks the new Pentagon policy goes against the federal Defense of Marriage Act and thus should be discounted.

“Undersecretary Stanley cannot say, on the one hand, that chaplains may take part in any private ceremony as long as it is ‘not prohibited by applicable state and local law’ and, on the other, say nothing of the federal law,” Broglio said.

The Navy Times article noted that “the memo from Stanley appeared to address this legal issue by stating that ‘a chaplain’s participation does not constitute an endorsement of the ceremony’ by the Defense Department.”

Read the rest.

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8 responses to “Archbishop: no same sex marriages at West Point chapel”

  1. So, I’m confused as to how this came up… Is the chapel required to perform marriage ceremonies for remarrying divorced people when there is no annulment? For priests and perpetually-vowed religious when there is no dispensation?

    Those marriages are certainly legal in New York state, too.

  2. If clergy are not forced to perform the ceremony or host it on church controlled property, there’s no problem. Gay couples who live in jurisdictions permitting it will find someone to officiate and some place to host it and everyone gets to keep their own moral codes intact (and off each other’s backs).

  3. There are apparently 6 chapels at West Point: Catholic, Jewish, Protestant/Gospel, a chapel used mostly for funerals/memorial services but also Lutheran, another Protestant but probably more Episcopal in flavor, and one other. It isn’t surprising at all that the Catholic chapel would say no. It is probably only used for Catholic weddings (i.e., no divorced people unless the previous marriage was annulled by the Catholic church, no marriages of two non-Catholics, etc.).

    The main chapel, aka Cadet Chapel, is more likely to have chaplains using it from religions (e.g., Unitarian Universalist) happy to perform marriages of two people who happen to be the same sex and permitted to do so by their religion. It is also likely the place where many non-Catholics, divorced people, etc. get married (unless they are Jewish and use that chapel or Lutheran and prefer that chapel and so on).

  4. It’s happening. All those people that wanted real change finally got their way. God have mercy on us all.

  5. Actually, Daisy, I doubt it will come to that. Have Catholic churches closed because they will not perform marriages of non-Catholics or of divorced persons? No, they have not.

    Have those few fringe protestant churches who insist that the races should not intermarry been forced to close because they refuse to perform such weddings? No, they have not.

    This is exactly how the freedom of religion was meant to play out in our nation, Daisy. The government neither prefers nor penalizes any particular faith, and the various faiths conduct themselves in accordance with their religious teachings.

    Personally, I am very happy that the Catholic Archbishop has been so clear and so prompt in his statement, and I support the Catholic church’s right to this position. Those same-sex couples who wish to marry can find a welcoming church elsewhere who will work with them.

    And I disagree that this is a non-story. It is important that these stories be reported so that the silly notion that the government is going to close churches who do not marry gays is properly debunked. We need to have more stories told like this where the civil rights of individuals and the civil rights of churches and their congregations are shown to be able to coexist in our nation.

  6. It’s a Catholic chapel, even though it is at West Point. Did anyone really think the priest WOULD be marrying same gender cadets? (after they graduate, of course as one can not marry during the training).

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