Catholic priest sues for access military base during shutdown
October 15th, 2013
08:29 AM ET

Catholic priest sues for access military base during shutdown

(CNN) – A Catholic priest has gone to court, saying the partial government shutdown is preventing him from providing religious services– even voluntarily– on a U.S. military base.

Father Ray Leonard filed a lawsuit Monday in federal district court in Washington, saying he "wishes to continue practicing his faith and ministering to his faith community free of charge... but has been told that he is subject to arrest if he does so."

Leonard is a newly hired civilian employee, scheduled to start work October 1 to provide Catholic religious services at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia.

The priest was one of thousands of civilian military employees and contractors furloughed because of the failure of Congress to reach a deal on funding the federal government. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has since recalled some Defense Department workers, but civilian military chaplains were excluded.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Military • Politics • United States

soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Bubba

    Excellent idea. Next Muslim Clerics should sue to get on to restricted military installations in order to serve any Muslims within the restricted base.
    I am a Christian who believes in God, and our Governments right to secrecy.

    October 23, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • JR

      That's not what this is about. There are no available Catholic services on base on NSB Kings Bay. Protestant services continue. By allowing one faith to practice and threatening the priest with arrest for attempting to volunteer services, the base has discriminated on the basis of religion. This is the point of the law suit. The reason the priest can't volunteer is because there's a federal law which states federal employees may not continue to work voluntarily during a government shutdown.

      October 31, 2013 at 3:24 am |
      • Retired Soldier

        That is total BS. The service members are not prohibited from going off-base to attend services if they desire. As such, there are 2 catholic churches in Kings Bay for those desiring to attend services. It is the priest who is/was demanding special treatment by wanting to be exempted from the law that applies to EVERY government employee / contractor.

        November 2, 2013 at 5:08 am |
  2. Michael

    We are comming we took you and made you we gave you food and tought you everything we give and we take away. From the dirt we forged you to be like us and now you turn from all that we have givin you , like the great snake satin you have rebelled againt us and soon you will understand why they have written stores and books about us! Soon.

    October 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Leeee

      The Great snake Satin. So women's clothing is coming to take people away. OK so a little more than half the people are going to be comfortable. Of the remaining some will be embarrassed, and the rest mad.

      October 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • satincomming

      Michael... See the red line under the words? The line means it's not spelled correctly. For example: comming tought givin and satin are wrong. It makes you look like you did not graduate middle school.

      October 25, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  3. Michael

    When you work for the gov your tought to pray to the great statue of lincon . And when you walk the hall and photos of past presidents are hanging on the wall you should stop and kneel down a pray to them .
    Don't forget to pleduge your aleiogions to the gov and forget about your creator your gov is now your only true God.
    Die for it fight for it steel for it sleep around for it bow to it work and give your money to it .
    Need I say more !

    October 22, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • james

      You don't NEED to say more, but I sure hope you do. Keep showing us the average Christian's intelligence.

      October 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  4. stupid priest

    This priest better shut his mouth. ALL new govt employees are in a probationary period for approximately 1 year....which means they can be fired for any cause. He keeps blabbing his mouth and making accusations, he can be dismissed very easily.

    October 22, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Name*

      It was not an accusation. It actually happened. I'm glad he is standing up.

      October 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  5. mak

    Next Wednesday, Iran & Hizbullah celebrating 40 years of the The Beirut Barracks Bombings (October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon) when Iranin two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces—members of the Multinational Force (MNF) in Lebanon—killing 299 American and French servicemen. An obscure group calling itself 'Islamic Jihad' (all report shows that organization becomes later Hizbullah).. it claimed responsibility for the bombings. The Irania person "Ismael Askari" was the responsible for the Americans death.
    why you dont' punish the Iranin??? since that day the terrorist started all over the world & its center base is Iran & Hizbullah.. with a perfect cover of the Americans themselfs

    October 21, 2013 at 3:30 am |
  6. Peter s

    Oh those merry catholics!! (canibals!!)

    October 21, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • give up

      Hey troll

      October 29, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  7. samoosapur

    Jesuits on the moove.

    October 20, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  8. M Sheldon

    Reality#2 – Life is to be lived to transcend this plane and all it's limitations on our Spiritual Evolution. Suffering is inevitable but only makes us stronger if we choose to embrace its lessons...

    October 18, 2013 at 6:27 am |
    • Reality # 2

      So why do we have anti-pain medications?

      October 18, 2013 at 7:53 am |
  9. perdy


    the overwhelming majority of people who "experimented" discovered much to their surprise that a living, listening, being was there all along, the missing part of their lives. he exists. he was present. no leap of faith!

    why is your god an answered question? does your inability to answer this question rise to the level that it is worthy of your worship, loyalty, dedication, time and effort? obviously yes.

    others believe in a living god.

    October 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  10. perdy

    in this context, your god is your unanswered question.

    October 17, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  11. Stephanie

    What a crock. If people living on base wanted Catholic Services, why couldn't they leave the base and go to a local Catholic church service? I don't think there was any law in place keeping on base residents leaving to attend church.

    October 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

      Exactly. This is typical fundy nonsense.

      October 18, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Name*

      I don't know if you go to church or not, but when you find a place that you like and feel comfortable in like any parish around, you don't want to be told you can't go. It was crap and I'm glad he is standing up. They wouldn't even let him practice even as a volunteer.

      October 29, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • Retired Soldier

        That's because it is against the law. The law applies to every government employee and contractor. There is absolutely no reason he should get special treatment. And just because someone likes something, does not mean that it should get special treatment either.

        November 2, 2013 at 5:11 am |
  12. dimblar

    the overwhelming majority of people who "experimented" discovered much to their surprize that a living, listening, being was there all along, the missing part of their lives. he exists. he was present. no leap of faith!

    October 17, 2013 at 3:00 am |
    • Reality # 2

      Number of god's creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases: (or were they victims of their experimentation or surprise?)

      1. 300,000,000 approx.

      2. 200,000,000 ?

      3. 100,000,000 approx.
      Black Death

      4. 80,000,000–250,000,000

      5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
      Spanish Flu

      6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
      Plague of Justinian

      7. 40,000,000–100,000,000

      8. 30,000,000[13]
      AIDS pandemic

      9. 12,000,000 ?
      Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

      10. 5,000,000
      Antonine Plague

      11. 4,000,000
      Asian Flu

      12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

      October 17, 2013 at 8:02 am |
      • Stephanie

        Hey, life is tough, its deadly and it's a world created for our lives here in this dimension. It's messy, it's dangerous and it's been created with certain laws of nature. Death and disease are a part of life. What if no one died? How many years could we go before we'd start killing people or sterilizing people because of over population? As long as you have people with free will you are going to have greed, stupidity, and accidents. That is what causes death thats not covered by "mother nature". The consequences of life is death and disease. What we make of life collectively is what makes the world go round.

        October 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          But why does your god bring so much pain in the process of death?

          October 17, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
        • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

          You’re defeated by your own argument. According to you this god created the world and its laws and then is forced to do something like introduce disease to make those laws work. Couldn’t it simply have made a better system than one based on suffering?

          October 18, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  13. dimblar

    the overwhelming majority of people who "experimented" discovered much to their surprize that a living, listening, being was there all along, the missing part of their lives. he exists. he was present. no leap of faith.

    October 17, 2013 at 3:00 am |
  14. zimmy


    October 17, 2013 at 12:58 am |
  15. zimmy

    12 legions of angels.

    u mean u didn't no about the forces he witholds?

    October 17, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

      He is magic.. and can wave his wand and say a few words and POOF… more angles. Right?

      October 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
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