The new Archbishop of the Military in Spain, Archbishop Juan del Rio, said this week the armed forces play an important role in society and that the Church “cannot cease from accompanying those who are committed to the cause of peace.”
In an interview with the magazine Alfa y Omega, the archbishop told those who do not understand the relationship between the Church and the military that they have been carried away by ignorance and a simplistic and disingenuous vision of the true role the military has in society for the promotion of peace and living together in freedom.
“The Church cannot cease from accompanying those who are committed to the cause of peace, especially when they themselves experience the very suffering they are trying to prevent for us and for entire peoples,” he told the magazine.
As the archbishop of the military archdiocese, he said, his flock includes a slice of the nation that is “accustomed to the practice of the important human virtues of patriotism, loyalty, discipline, industriousness, generosity and commitment.”
Asked about proposals to suspend the military chaplaincy, Archbishop del Rio said those who are making them are the same ones who want to “exclude the Catholic religion from the public sphere. The presence of the Church in the military constitutes an important contribution to military believers, giving religious meaning to their commitment and service.”
He also pointed out that those who call for suppressing the chaplaincy, in addition to depriving soldiers of their right to religious freedom, “are ignorant of the important work that chaplains carry out, and they are depriving the members of the armed forces of the help and spiritual encouragement that are so necessary in their vocation, especially in times of pain and suffering.”