Celebrity Upsets Catholics After Dropping Priests From Cruises

Celebrity Cruises upset some in the Catholic community earlier this month, when they ended their longstanding tradition of inviting priests on board to hold daily masses, including Sunday services.

The change became effective January 4th, after the cruise line received "a great deal of negative feedback pertaining to the 'selective' support of one particular religion/faith."

Celebrity hopes that the new policy will level the playing field, and aims to be more balanced for passengers of all religions.

"Out of respect for our guests of all religious faiths, Celebrity has chosen to align the religious services provided for Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Interdenominational faiths," Celebrity said in a statement. "Roman Catholic Priests, Protestant Ministers and Jewish Rabbis or Cantors will be provided and official services will be conducted for the major High Holy Holidays of each respective faith. Daily and weekly scheduling of any religious services will no longer be offered on an official basis."

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, based in New York, fired back by saying the cruise line yielded to "bigots".

"Instead of standing on principle and telling those generating the 'negative feedback' that no one is forced to go to Mass, and that tolerance demands respect for religious freedom, officials at Celebrity Cruises decided to yield to the bigots," the Catholic League's Bill Donohue said in a statement on January 14th. "The Catholic League advises all Catholics to shop around the next time they plan to take a cruise, but not to waste their time checking out Celebrity Cruises."

Celebrity had been one of the few cruise lines that invited priests to head services on every sailing. The shift will now mean religious officials will only be invited to conduct services for major religious holidays, with priests sailing over the Easter and Christmas holidays.

The cruise line also added that even though religious officials won't be on hand on a daily basis, passengers interested in organizing religious services, or volunteering their religious services to others, are encouraged to inquire at the Guest Services Desk after boarding the ship.

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