Writing for Religion Dispatches, Eugene McMullen points out that the Rt. Rev. Timothy Broglio, the Catholic Archbishop for the Armed Forces, has written a column Don't Ask Don't Tell that is not simply poorly reasoned, but confuses the issue by making it seem that chaplains--who have to take orders like any other solider--are somehow privileged decision makers in this debate.
Chaplains are engaged primarily in a non-sectarian work of care and counsel. They work on a regular basis with non-Catholics, non-Christians, and persons of no religious belief whatsoever. They divide duties consistent with their competencies and their diverse consciences. These duties are carried out in a generic way that is respectful of the soldier’s religious affiliation, and the conscience of the chaplain.
Hearing Catholic confessions is but a small part of a Catholic chaplain’s job. Catholic chaplains are not required to perform marriages between non-Catholics or divorced persons. There is no reason to think they would ever be required to bless same-gender unions or to “condone” (how patronizing!) sexual love between persons of the same gender.
While the Archbishop has religious authority over the Catholic chaplains in the armed services, their primary allegiance is to the military and the president. So long as they actually serve in the military, they answer to the president, not the prelate.
Canon law and catechism are irrelevant to the debate about lifting DADT. They are no more relevant here than they have been to other policy issues such as women in combat; bans on drugs, sexual harassment, racism and “fraternization”; or decisions concerning the handling of service members who become pregnant.