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Government shutdown bars some priests from military chapels

Monday - 10/7/2013, 7:20pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some Catholic priests are being barred from serving as chaplains to the military during the government shutdown.

John Schlageter (SHLAG'-ah-tur), general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, says he knows of at least 15 military posts where priests were unable to minister or celebrate Mass this past Sunday because they're considered non-essential personnel.

The lockout affects priests who are not in the military but are under contract to serve as chaplains.

Noting that the government found a way for the military academies to play football this past weekend, Schlageter says, "There's no First Amendment right to the free exercise of football. There is a free exercise right to your religious faith."

On Saturday, the House voted 400-1 to keep contract chaplains working during the government shutdown. Illinois Democrat William Enyart was the only "no" vote. It's unclear if the Senate will consider the resolution.

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