CNA Staff, Jun 15, 2023 / 15:20 pm
Franciscan priests will again serve as chaplains and ministers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland after their contract went unrenewed in favor of a private defense contractor, provoking an outcry from prominent Catholics.
“Of course, it is a source of great joy that the Franciscans have returned to the medical center and care for patients and staff there,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA, said in a Thursday statement.
The Franciscan priests and friars of Holy Name College Friary of Silver Spring, Maryland, had served at Walter Reed for 20 years, typically providing a team of five friars six days a week to minister to patients. The U.S. Defense Health Agency now has awarded a five-year annually renewable contract to the friars to resume their service.
Their longtime ministry was interrupted two months ago when the friars’ contract for pastoral services expired on March 31, just before Holy Week. The Holy Name College Friary continued to provide services after the contract expired, actions that prompted an April 4 cease-and-desist letter from the hospital that further raised Catholic concerns.