A Catholic pastor of a parish in Binghampton, New York has informed his bishop that his parish will not participate in this weekend’s special collection for the United States Archdiocese for the Military Services.
Rev. Timothy Taugher of St. Francis of Assisi Church said the collection, which is approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), represents an increase in “militarism in our culture.”
According to Brian Roewe of the liberal National Catholic Reporter, Taugher told him he voiced his decision not to participate to Bishop Robert Cunningham as a way to “break the silence to the bishops and our leadership” regarding the United States’ involvement in recent wars and to emphasize his view that militarism is at odds with Jesus’ gospel of peace and nonviolence.
“This was addressed to the overall concern about militarism in our culture, and I think also the frustration that as a church and a people of faith, how do we preach the Gospel of peace, and preach the Gospel of nonviolence in this time of militarism?” Taugher said.
Taugher is a member of Catholic leftist group Pax Christi USA, an organization that has actively promoted the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Church’s current amnesty efforts. Pax Christi is a partner group of other institutional Catholic left organizations such as George Soros-funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) Network, Faith in Public Life, and the Nuns on the Bus. CACG has had close ties with Big Labor, ACORN, and John Podesta’s Center for American Progress (CAP).
In his letter to his bishop, Taugher called upon the words of Pope Francis to support his position that “it seems as though two competing allegiances are crying for our attention. To which do we honor – the one that upholds militarism or the one that proclaims the Gospel of Life?”
Pope Francis, Taugher said, expressed, “The true force of the Christian is the force of truth and of love, which means rejecting all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible!”
Taugher said that the collection, which coincides with both Veteran’s Day and the feast of St. Martin of Tours who left military life to live a life of nonviolence, illustrates his dilemma:
These are challenging times for us as a nation and Church, as we confront issues that put the lives of so many people at risk. We have to ask ourselves as Church leaders, “How are we to preach the Gospel of peace in a time of endless wars? How are we to preach the Gospel of non-violence in a country immersed in rampant militarism?” These questions challenge us as a Church to the spiritual and moral leadership we need to give our people and nation.
For these reasons of conscience, I will be withholding the materials related to the AMS Collection for this coming weekend. I pray that we can authentically become a Church of non-violent love, that by our witness we will help lessen war and violence in our world.
NCR asked Archbishop of Military Services (AMS) Timothy Broglio whether his collection sends a message that the church condones U.S. militarism.
“Just in the same way that we take care of government workers, that does not necessarily mean that we endorse the policies of the government,” he said. “In many instances, the church has taken issues with decisions of the government, but that doesn’t mean that we stop serving the pastoral needs of the individuals who are involved.”
On its website, the AMS, which was created as a diocese in 1985 by Pope John Paul II, states that it receives no military or government funding and depends solely on American Catholics to operate its programs and services to Catholics in the military. Catholic chaplains and members of the National Guard and Reserves and employees of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are paid by the U.S. government. However, the 25 percent of the military who are Catholic require programs and ministries that must be funded by volunteer efforts.
The AMS collection, according to the website, will be held once every three years and makes it possible for the archdiocese to “ensure that all military Catholics and their families, as well as patients in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, have access to the sacraments, the spiritual guidance of a Catholic chaplain, and authentic Catholic education, wherever they are.”