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Walter Reed Medical Center: We’ll Still Provide Catholic Services 

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is seen in an Oct. 2, 2020, photo. The ending of a 20-year Catholic pastoral care contract at Walter Reed National Military Hospital highlights concerns over the Department of Defense pastoral contract process. (OSV News photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — In response to accusations from the Archdiocese of the Military Services that it has committed a “glaring violation” of hospitalized Catholics’ rights by terminating its contract with a community of Franciscan priests, Walter Reed National Medical Center maintained that Catholic services will still be provided. 

According to the archdiocese, Walter Reed issued a “cease and desist order” to Holy Name College, a community of Franciscan priests who have long provided pastoral care to service members and veterans at the hospital. The order follows the priests’ contract being terminated by the medical center on March 31. 

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services called the move “incomprehensible,” adding that he hopes that “this disdain for the sick will be remedied at once and their First Amendment rights will be respected.”

“It is incomprehensible that essential pastoral care is taken away from the sick and the aged when it was so readily available,” Archbishop Broglio said. “This is the classic case where the adage ‘if it is not broken, do not fix it’ applies.” 

The reason behind Walter Reed’s decision isn’t clear. However, Archbishop Broglio alluded to the price of the priests’ contract being a factor, alleging that the hospital gave the contract to the lowest bidder, even though that bidder “cannot provide the necessary service.” 

Walter Reed awarded the contract to Mack Global LLC., a government contractor that bills itself as “providing a diverse range of services and products to government agencies and private companies.” However, in a statement to The Tablet, Walter Reed said the contract is under review to ensure it adequately supports the religious needs of its patients and beneficiaries. 

In the statement, Walter Reed also pushed back on the archdiocese’s assertion that the contract with the Franciscan priests was terminated. The hospital claims that the contract had instead expired, and that the priests were aware of the expiration date when it was issued and signed. 

Further, Walter Reed said the medical center can provide Catholic services without a contract, as there is an assigned active-duty Army Catholic priest in its Department of Pastoral Care, who currently provides services that include pastoral counseling and Sacramental Rites. The hospital added that it is also a part of the National Capital Region Health Market, and therefore can leverage Catholic priests assigned to other defense organizations within the region. 

“[Walter Reed] continues to provide religious, spiritual, and emotional care to our patients, staff, and beneficiaries,” the statement reads. “We currently have an ordained Catholic Chaplain on staff who is continuing to provide all of our Catholic services for the hospital.” 

The archdiocese, however, claims that the chaplain is in the process of separating from the Army. It is unclear if the archdiocese has plans to appoint any other priests to the hospital.

One thought on “Walter Reed Medical Center: We’ll Still Provide Catholic Services 

  1. I don’t accept them on their statement as I saw a picture that hangs on the wall, a huge mural of Jesus, now being hidden.??

    Where is the pushback?? And it deserves follow-up to make sure the hospital IS doing just that!

    We have, as Catholics, way too appeased and complacent, IMO