Via Media

Funny that the week I started doing some work on this project for the Archdiocese of Military Services….OSV runs an article on it. It’s not online yet, but an abridged version is available at Catholic Online:

Catholic men and women comprise 27 percent of the U.S. military, according to Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, yet only 7 percent of military chaplains are Catholics. While these figures are an extension of a widespread deficit in priestly vocations in the church, they also bear witness to the grave difficulty the archdiocese faces in providing sacraments, education and ministry to Catholic soldiers spread around the globe – and the vulnerability of many Catholic military men and women to the proselytizing of evangelical chaplains and soldiers.

Although the military brass has stepped in on several recent occasions to address concerns about proselytism – including charges raised by a fellow Christian chaplain last year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. – the practice continues among many rank-and-file evangelicals who see Catholic soldiers as prime targets. Lacking a solid formation in their faith or an available Catholic priest to visit for counsel, some Catholic soldiers find themselves too poorly equipped to effectively defend church teaching and practices against the evangelicals’ charges.

They may come away from such encounters confused or disillusioned about the church and be drawn away from the Catholic faith into evangelicalism or fundamentalism.

The problem is not only one of recruiting more Catholic chaplains, but also of building up the Catholic faith community in the military. So, even as the military archdiocese steps up its efforts to encourage new priestly vocations and temporary “loans” of clergy from other dioceses, Archbishop O’Brien has also launched Catholics Seeking Christ, an ambitious peer-to-peer ministry that educates Catholic soldiers in their faith with the help of well-trained lay military volunteers.

Our friends (and I mean that!) at the Christianity Today Weblog take note of the editorial:

An article in Our Sunday Visitor shows a surprising hostility to evangelical Protestants. "Many Catholic military men and women," the Roman Catholic newspaper warns, are vulnerable "to the proselytizing of evangelical chaplains and soldiers." The unsigned article continues:

As I said, what’s at this website is unsigned, but it’s a part of an article written by Mary DeTurris Poust, longtime OSV writer and author of Parenting a Grieving Child, published by Loyola.

So…the question is, when a Catholic person describes the efforts of an evangelical Protestant to convert Catholics to evangelical Protestantism as "proselytizing" and as a negative…that’s "hostile?"


What I would be very interested in seeing in the comments in this post are, as usual, your opinions, but more importantly, your experiences as a member of the military or military family. What’s the situation regarding this issue?

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