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Biden Administration’s Military Cancels Catholic Chaplains During Holy Week

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April 12, 2023

News Release
For Immediate Release: 4.12.23
Contact: John Manning, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

Biden Administration’s Military Cancels Catholic Chaplains During Holy Week

The Department of Defense ends longstanding relationship with the Holy Name College Friary and deprives service members of life-saving pastoral care.

Washington, D.C.—First Liberty Institute and The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Lieutenant General Telita Crosland, Director of the Defense Health Agency, to express alarm over the decision to order Catholic chaplains to “cease and desist” performing their pastoral duties in caring for the sick and wounded at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

You can read the letter here.

“It is beyond inexcusable for the Biden Administration to deprive America’s sick and wounded service members the life-saving care they need just to save a few dollars.  And to make this decision during Holy Week only pours salt into the wound,” said Michael Berry, Director of Military Affairs at First Liberty Institute. “For decades, our nation recognized the vital role chaplains play in the military.  The Constitution requires the military to ensure that Catholic service members have ready access to sacraments such as communion and confession.  Those sacraments can only be administered by clergy within the church, cannot be outsourced to the lowest bidder.”

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is an organization comprised of more than 30 ecclesiastical endorsing agencies; those agencies endorse more than 2,500 military chaplains and approximately 40% of the current armed forces chaplaincy.

“The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty proudly stands with our Catholic colleagues,” said Bishop Derek Jones, Executive Director for the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.  “The Biden Administration’s decision to end its relationship with the Catholic Church at Walter Reed is just the latest insult to America’s service members and the chaplains who serve alongside them.”

According to the Department of Defense data, Catholics comprise the single largest religious demographic in the military, and a substantial majority of service members claim that religion is either “important” or “very important” in their lives.

The letter concludes, “Our military faces many challenges on many fronts.  As Americans, we are obligated to ensure that our service members are equipped to perform their noble mission.  We urge you to take immediate and affirmative steps to remedy this situation.  Thank you for your attention to this matter, and for valuing the principles of religious freedom upon which our nation was founded, and which our service members defend.

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About First Liberty Institute 

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact John Manning at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.

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