The head of Catholic military chaplains is speaking out after the Navy banned service members from leaving base to go to church.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio is head of the U.S. Archdiocese of Military Services, which oversees the priests who serve as Catholic chaplains in the armed forces.
In a statement on the Fourth of July, the archbishop denounced the Navy's ban on attending religious services. He asked rhetorically, "Should those who swear to protect and defend the Constitution be obliged to surrender their First Amendment rights?"
He criticized the ban as ineffective, since the Navy is prohibiting service members from going to church for fear of spreading a virus, but does not and cannot ban their family members.
Access to Mass and the sacraments for service members has been severely reduced during the coronavirus pandemic — with many Catholic chaplains livestreaming Mass online.
It's similar to the situation for civilians in the United States.
With every diocese in the country banning public gatherings, many Catholics have gone months without attending Mass.
Even as public Mass returns in many parts of America, it often comes with stringent social-distancing rules.
Many bishops shut down public Masses long before there were any state lockdown orders. But Abp. Broglio is one of the few bishops to stand up for the rights of the faithful amid the Wuhan virus pandemic.