The United States Navy has made the decision to cancel all Catholic masses on its San Diego-area bases in order to save money, according to the Daily Caller.
According to the initial report from the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Navy has decided not to renew contracts with priests who were scheduled to assist the Navy’s Chaplain Corps, which oversees Catholic masses.
In response to media inquiries about the decision, Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke said that “the Navy has had to make the difficult decision to discontinue most contracted ministry services.” This decision, O’Rourke claimed, was because “the Navy’s religious ministries priority is reaching and ministering to our largest demographic – active duty Sailors and Marines in the 18-25 year-old range.”
But the decision was met with quick backlash from Navy chaplains, including Reverend Jose Pimentel, who said that the decision amounts to “discrimination” and “violation of your right to practice your religion.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also condemned the move on Twitter, saying that “if true, we need to look at cancelling Admirals, not priests.”
Vice Admiral Yancey Lindsey, commander of the Naval Installations Command, defended the decision as necessary in order to “reduce redundancies and capture efficiencies by realigning resources.”