No Same-Sex Weddings at West Point's Catholic Chapel, Says Military Archdiocese

Pete Winn | October 3, 2011 | 5:17pm EDT
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Archbishop Timothy Broglio, of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. (Photo courtesy of the archdiocese.)

( – Will same-sex marriage ceremonies be allowed at the Catholic Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point?

“The answer is ‘no,’” said Taylor Henry, director of public affairs and media relations for the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and spokesman for Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who certifies all Catholic chaplains for the armed services.

“Holy Trinity is an actual Catholic parish, unlike the non-denominational chapels that are found on other military installations, and the only services held there are Catholic services. The Catholic Church does not perform the sacrament of matrimony for same-sex couples,” he said.

What about other Catholic chapels on other military bases?

“What non-Catholic chaplains do in nondenominational chapels on U.S. military grounds around the world will be up to the military, but no Catholic chaplain is authorized to perform a same-sex marriage under any circumstances,” Henry added.

Archbishop Broglio, meanwhile, has denounced directives issued last week by Under Secretary of Defense Clifford Stanley and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson clearing military chaplains to perform same-sex weddings in military chapels.

“The Pentagon's new policy, as outlined in these two memos, appears to ignore the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed into law 15 years ago and remains in effect,” Broglio said in a statement released last week.

“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.

“Nor can DOD's General Counsel say that determinations regarding use of military facilities should be made on a 'sexual-orientation neutral basis, provided such use is not prohibited by applicable state and local laws' while neglecting to take DOMA into account.

Broglio pointed out that voters in 29 states have affirmed marriage as the union of one man and one woman by referendum – and 41 states total have adopted laws or constitutional amendments protecting marriage. .

“Fundamentally the new policy seeks to circumvent the clear will of the majority, whose unquestionable sovereignty has the last word in the system of government enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” Broglio said.

“It cannot be forgotten that the 1996 enactment of DOMA was due to the efforts of a substantial, bi-partisan majority in Congress and to then-President Clinton.  As a Nation we walk down a dangerous path when appointed officials are allowed to thwart the will of the people.

He added: “The women and men I am privileged to serve place their lives on the line every day to defend the Country whose government is of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Let us pray that the millions who have died to ensure those liberties did not die in vain."

The Archdiocese for the Military Services is the sole endorser (certifier) of Roman Catholic chaplains to the United States government. A Roman Catholic priest cannot serve within the United States military as a priest without the express permission of the Archdiocese.

As of 2008, there were 285 Roman Catholic priests certified for active-duty military service.


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