Walter Reed says Catholic pastoral contract being reviewed amid criticism from archdiocese

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said it was reviewing a Catholic pastoral care contract awarded to a secular defense company after the Catholic Archdiocese for Military Services accused the center of denying Catholic service members the right to practice their religion.

“At this time, the Pastoral Contract is being reviewed to ensure that it adequately meets the religious needs of our patients and beneficiaries,” Walter Reed said in a statement Tuesday.

The Catholic Archdiocese clashed last week after saying a cease and desist order had been issued against Holy Name College Friary, a Franciscan community of priests and friars who had served at the center for nearly two decades.


The entrance to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC on November 19, 2021.

The entrance to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC on November 19, 2021. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

This came after a Catholic pastoral contract ended at the end of March. And the archdiocese said the contract had been replaced by a contract with a secular defense company which the archbishop said would not be able to provide adequate care.

“It is incomprehensible that essential pastoral care is being taken away from the sick and elderly when it was so readily available,” Bishop Timothy Broglio said in a statement.

“This is a classic case where the adage ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ applies. I am afraid that giving a contract to the lowest bidder has ignored the fact that the bidder cannot provide the necessary service,” he added. “I sincerely hope that this disregard for the sick will be remedied and that their First Amendment rights will be respected.”

This week, two dozen Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin decrying what they saw as an “attack on the Christian faith.”


Walter Reed, however, stressed that he was able to provide Catholic pastoral care without a contract and said that Holy Week and Easter services led by a Catholic priest were provided and that three local priests were able to provide services, as well as access to Red Cross volunteers and active duty chaplains.

The center also said it had an ordained Catholic priest on active duty among its staff and the contract awarded was to provide cover in case the staff could not. He also said that as part of the National Capital Region Health Market, he can bring in priests assigned to other advocacy organizations in the region.

“With assigned staff and regional support, WRNMMC has sufficient resources to meet the religious needs of our Catholic beneficiaries,” the statement said.

The Defense Health Agency also pointed out that there were “no cancellations of Catholic services at Walter Reed, particularly during Holy Week.”

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after being treated for depression.

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after being treated for depression. (Office of John Fetterman)

The agency and the center also pointed out that the contract was not terminated, but that it expired on March 31 and that the contract must be renewed and renewed. That contract is currently under review, the center said.

However, he confirmed that he issued the cease and desist order on April 4 after Holy Name College continued to provide services beyond the expiration of the contract. Holy Week Catholic liturgies were offered at the center by the staff priest.

Separately, senior defense officials told Fox News that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley was not involved or consulted in any way in the decision, as had been suggested in social media posts, and that the issues were covered on army channels.


“Thanks in large part to excellent media coverage on Fox News Channel, Fox Digital, and other outlets, as well as the attention of Congress, the administration is now working hard behind the scenes to resolve the issue,” he said. said the director of public affairs for the archdiocese. told Fox News.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Jennifer Johnson and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.

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