Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dope springs eternal

Updated 10/16

They really can't help themselves. The zombie story of the martyrdom of the padres ministering to our Catholic troops who might imaginably have been arrested, though it took a pretty creative mind to imagine it (I gave it quite a bit of space here and here), continues to not die. Although it is quite clearly not true.
What appears to have happened is that a Father Ray Leonard (known around the parish house, I hope, as "Father Sugar Ray")  was due to start civilian chaplaining at the [jump]
Wolf pack. From Howling for Justice.
King's Bay Naval Submarine Base near St. Mary's, Georgia on October 1, when the government shutdown intervened to prevent his contract, along with those of a few administrative employees, from being put into effect. It wasn't a case of one of the imaginary furloughs that would have taken effect if Secretary of Defense Hagel and the Congress had not acted to ensure that they didn't; Father Leonard couldn't be furloughed, since he had not yet become an employee. Nevertheless he apparently had been busy on base, stocking his office with sets of vestments, communion wine, and wafers, scheduling services and marriage preparation classes, and so on.

So when he was locked out of his office on October 4 and told to desist from practicing his profession on base even on a volunteer basis (he couldn't be paid, and it is against the law to give gifts to the federal government, even the gift of faith!), he got pretty pissed off; and as any good American would, rather than risk arrest, he filed a lawsuit, with the aid of the Thomas More Law Center, which appears to be a kind of Southern Poverty Law Center for the frocked, helping them out, perhaps, from under the accusations of vicious housewives and altarboys. I don't think there's any merit in the suit, but that's not my problem.

What bothers me is that the story began to circulate around the usual venues, and when it got to the Christianist News Service, today, it had picked up quite a bit of extra baggage, most of it clearly false. Father Leonard's case, it was now alleged, was just one of about 50, though none of the others was named, and Hagel and the Congress had somehow not agreed to stop persecuting the contract chaplains, even though they made it clear that they had:
A defense official said the contract chaplains were treated the same as all other civilian employees. "It has no connection to the job they hold. It has every connection to the fact that they work for the federal government," said the official, who declined to be identified discussing personnel issues.
The contract chaplains are now back at work.
The worst is that now CNN has carelessly picked up the Christianist version of the story, so that my winger correspondents think they have unimpeachable evidence that it must be true. Stay tuned.
Truth finally gets its boots on. From lookbook.nu.
Update 10/16/13

Further research: As of  Friday October 4 there were maybe four or five Masses canceled for the following Sunday: Father Leonard's and a few at Quantico; also at Quantico a couple was going to have to be married by a priest they didn't know. A couple more closures on October 6 are suggested to have taken place in a story published October 10, but the report is still not firm: only discusses the situation on Friday-Saturday, doesn't say that any cancellations were carried through. Fr. Paul Shaughnessy, who seems to be the priest who threatened to serve an outdoor Mass on October 6 in the Virginia Beach area (see this post at Rectification), is identified as such in a source of October 11, but they avoid saying whether he carried it out or not. My guess is that it is on this basis that CNS claimed "approximately 50" priests had  canceled Mass, though there is in fact no evidence offered that any were (except for the Leonard lawsuit accounting for a single priest who was as I say not a chaplain, since his hiring was not completed). And that they just assumed, again on the basis of no evidence and indeed by ignoring evidence that there were no furloughs of contract chaplains, that the imaginary situation continued to October 13. I've been asking questions in CNS website comments, but have no response.

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