Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 11, 2023 / 18:20 pm
One of the top military hospitals in the U.S. says it is reviewing a Catholic pastoral care contract it awarded last month to a Virginia-based firm that specializes in providing government clients with industrial machinery, tactical gear, and janitorial supplies, in addition to chaplains and other religious staff.
Franciscan friars at Holy Name College in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, had provided pastoral services at Bethesda’s Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for nearly two decades. Their contract expired on March 31, Walter Reed said in a statement Tuesday.
Walter Reed “can and will continue to support all faiths for their religious, spiritual, and emotional needs including those of the Catholic faith,” its statement said. “We have an ordained Catholic priest on staff and the awarded contract is to provide coverage in case our staff cannot.”
The Holy Name College friary continued to provide services after the contract expired, which prompted an April 4 cease and desist letter from the hospital that only increased Catholic concerns. The Archbishop for Military Services Timothy P. Broglio voiced objections on April 7, citing the need to provide Holy Week and Easter Sunday services. Broglio, who also is president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the hospital’s move “incomprehensible.”