"He is, he has said, caught between serving two masters."


" He said that as chaplain, if church teaching said that a certain war was "an evil, unjust war and [Roman] Catholics can not participate," he would not."

[ RC chaplains served in the NAZI army throughout WW2 ...... JP ]


From ............ National Catholic Reporter

October 18, 1996

page 36

MILITARY CHAPLAINS PLUMB CHURCH-STATE TAR PIT

The U.S. military is in a sticky situation and a [Roman] Catholic chaplain is to blame. Fr. Vincent Rigdon is an Air Force Reserve lieutenant colonel who serves at Andrews Air Force Base, Washington, D.C.

In June, Rigdon was ordered not to urge military families to participate in the [Roman] Catholic bishops' postcard campaign aimed at persuading Congress to override President Clinton's veto of the partial-birth abortion ban.

Military orders for all branches preclude chaplains from participating in, or urging others to participate in, acts to influence or solicit votes on legislative issues.

Rigdon chose an American defense; He sued [NCR, Oct. 4]. Rigdon is joined in the suit by an Air Force rabbi, the Muslim Military Association and a [Roman] Catholic officer from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

Rigdon wants the order—which he sees as an infringement of his Constitutional right of free exercise of religion—rescinded.

He is, he has said, caught between serving two masters. He told NCR,

The greater point here, he stresses is that he was directed by his bishops, civilian and military, to preach on the "Project Life Postcard Campaign," and the Military Ordinariate — the military archdiocese — sent him samples of the postcard.

The Rigdon case raises an interesting tangential quandary, once a hot topic during the Vietnam War: that this tangle between two masters would not arise if chaplains were civilians rather than commissioned military officers. Rigdon, the Washington archdiocese's director of missions and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, has an unusual answer to that: That it is a question of inculturation.

It's a little like 17th century Jesuits in Asia in their saffron robes or missionaries to the developing world today, he said.

"Just as missionaries inculturate and do not deny the message of Christianity," he argues, "the chaplain brings Christ to this military culture."

Rigdon displays a certain consistency. He said that as chaplain, if church teaching said that a certain war was "an evil, unjust war and [Roman] Catholics can not participate," he would not.

[ RC chaplains served in the NAZI army throughout WW2 ...... JP ]

Rigdon's suit now has both the military and Rigdon's lawyer probing the past for precedents. What the military will find is that it has jumped into the church-state tar pit with the abortion issue in its arms. The Pentagon will not emerge victorious from this skirmish.

-END QUOTE-