SAN DIEGO — Catholic Masses at San Diego-area Navy bases have ended because the Navy, in what it says is a cost-cutting move, has declined to renew its contracts with Catholic priests, and there are not enough Catholic chaplains on active duty to fill the void.
Protestant services on bases, which are led by active duty chaplains, will continue, said Brian O’Rourke, a Navy Region Southwest spokesman.
The changes to the Navy’s religious ministries are part of a national realignment announced on Aug. 20. It is unclear how many priests this will affect.
“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,” O’Rourke wrote in an email. “To meet that mission, the Navy has had to make the difficult decision to discontinue most contracted ministry services.”
In the Navy message announcing the change, Vice Adm. Yancey Lindsey, the commander of Naval Installations Command, said it differently.
“We have a responsibility to use our limited resources wisely in meeting the needs of our personnel,” wrote Lindsey. “Therefore, we will reduce redundancies and capture efficiencies by realigning resources,” noting that religious services will be cut at bases where those services are readily available in the surrounding community outside the base.
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