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Trump tweets he won’t allow Navy to end contracts with Catholic priests

Former President Donald Trump. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
September 09, 2020

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday that the U.S. Navy would not move forward with its plan to end contracts for Catholic priests ministering to service members.

Trump tweeted, “The United States Navy, or the Department of Defense, will NOT be cancelling its contract with Catholic Priests who serve our men and women in the Armed Forces so well, and with such great compassion & skill. This will no longer be even a point of discussion!”

According to The New York Post, the Navy has had a long-running shortage of qualified Catholic priests within the service who can administer to service members, and has contracted for outside priests to fill the gap. The publication reported the Navy had planned to cut contracts with Catholic priests previously contracted to serve three San Diego-area military bases.

The San Diego Union-Tribune had reported over the weekend that the Navy chose to discontinue contracts with Catholic priests because it had determined there were enough Catholic priests in the area to meet the needs of the Navy’s Catholic service members. Protestant church services are administered by active-duty chaplains, but the Navy determined Catholic service members had enough options to attend their services with non-military congregations.

“We have a responsibility to use our limited resources wisely in meeting the needs of our personnel,” Navy Vice Adm. Yancey Lindsey said in a statement announcing the decision. “Therefore, we will reduce redundancies and capture efficiencies by realigning resources.”

The estimated cost savings from the cancellation would have amounted to about $250,000 in savings, according to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. According to that Catholic organization, the estimated cost savings amounts to “approximately 0.000156% of the Navy budget.”

On Wednesday, Archbishop Timothy Broglio expressed his appreciation for the decision to reverse the Navy’s plan to cancel contracts with Catholic priests.

“Catholics in the Navy and everywhere in this Country rejoice in the decision by the U.S. Navy to reconsider closing the thriving Catholic programs at naval stations in California,” Broglio wrote in a press release Wednesday. “I am deeply grateful to everyone who lent their support and encouragement to maintaining these programs. In a particular way, I am grateful to the Navy Chief of Chaplains and his staff, as well as, Navy Southwest for their consideration and effort.”

Trump’s tweeted announcement is the second case in less than a week in which the president has tweeted his decision to reverse a military order cutting programs for cost-saving purposes. On Friday, Trump tweeted that he would not allow the Pentagon to cut funding for the military news publication, Stars and Stripes, which has been serving military readers for 159 years. Trump’s Friday tweet came hours after a report of a Pentagon memo circulated, stating the military would suspend funding support for the publication by Sept. 15.