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

The archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA has announced that same-sex weddings are not going to be an option at West Point's Catholic Chapel in the foreseeable future.

Director of public affairs and media relations for the archdiocese and spokesman for Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Taylor Henry, told CNS News Monday that the Holy Trinity chapel at the famous military school is a Catholic parish, unlike the non-denominational chapels that are found on other military installations, and that the only services held there are Catholic services.

Since the Roman Catholic Church "does not perform the sacrament of matrimony for same-sex couples," no such ceremonies will take place at that institution, Henry said.

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He added, "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."

Last month, military chaplains were given the go-ahead to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Archbishop Broglio, while embracing his duties to homosexual service members, has denounced directives pertaining to same-sex ceremonies.

"Those with a homosexual orientation can expect respect and treatment worthy of their human dignity. The prohibitions regarding sexual harassment and intimidation refer just as much to homosexuals as to anyone else," Broglio said in a previous statement on the Archbishop for the Military Services website.

He added, "However, unions between individuals of the same gender resembling marriage will not be accepted or blessed by Catholic chaplains. Furthermore no restrictions or limitations on the teaching of Catholic morality can be accepted. First Amendment rights regarding the free exercise of religion must be respected."

Broglio noted recently, "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."

The archbishop added that the military authorities were wrong to say at the same time that chaplains can perform the ceremony, "as long as it is 'not prohibited by applicable state and local law,' " while there exists a federal law that contradicts it.

Broglio noted that voters in 29 states have affirmed, by referendum, that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. He suggested that the new policy was looking to go against the will of the majority, whose "unquestionable sovereignty" should have the last word in "the system of government enshrined in the Federal Constitution."

The archbishop also claimed that in 1996, the enactment of DOMA was due to the efforts of a substantial, bi-partisan majority in Congress and to then-President Bill Clinton.

"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," Broglio said. "Let us pray that the millions who have died to ensure those liberties did not die in vain."

Archbishop Broglio has also voiced the opinion that the policies of President Barack Obama's administration threaten to reddefine marriage in a way not compatible with the church's belief's.

"Archbishop [Timothy M.] Dolan has effectively given voice [in a letter to the president] to a concern deeply felt not only by members of the Catholic Church, but also by men and women of good will who in twenty-nine states have affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman," he said in a statement at the time.

"Anywhere that the people have been allowed to decide, marriage has been reaffirmed as that union made clear by nature itself," Broglio said. 

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