The U.S. Navy has reportedly ended Catholic church services on San Diego-area bases for cost purposes, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The Navy declined to renew contracts with priests who were contracted to assist the Chaplain Corps, a small active-duty unit containing few Catholic clergy members, according to a Saturday Tribune report. The new changes are from a national realignment announced in August.
“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,” Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke said in an email, according to The Union-Tribune.
“To meet that mission, the Navy has had to make the difficult decision to discontinue most contracted ministry services,” O’Rourke continued.
Protestant services at the bases are still ongoing, according to The Union-Tribune.
“One issue is discrimination [and] another is the violation of your right to practice your religion,” Rev. Jose Pimentel, whose contract with the Navy was not renewed, told the paper.
Pimentel was at the Naval Base Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island for eight years.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina blasted the decision with nine pithy words: “[W]e need to look at canceling Admirals, not priests.”
Can’t believe the @USNavy is considering canceling contracts for priests as a cost-cutting measure.
If true, we need to look at canceling Admirals, not priests.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 7, 2020
Vice Adm. Yancey Lindsey, the commander of Naval Installations Command, wrote that the Navy has a duty to use what limited resources they already have.
“Therefore, we will reduce redundancies and capture efficiencies by realigning resources,” Lindsey went on.
The admiral said the services are ending on the bases where they are also accessible nearby.
Catholic services on ships and overseas bases will be ongoing, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
What remains unclear is why the Navy couldn’t find cuts in other areas. The U.S. military is, after all, notorious for poor spending habits.
The Navy Region Southwest, the Department of Defense and the Navy did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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