Military hospital chided for shift in Catholic pastoral care

by | Apr 14, 2023 | Religion

(AP) — The management of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has drawn criticism from a prominent archbishop — and some members of Congress — by choosing not to renew a contract for Franciscan priests to provide pastoral care, and instead hiring a secular firm to oversee provision of those services going forward.For nearly two decades, priests from the Holy Name College Friary in Silver Spring, Maryland, had ministered to service members and veterans hospitalized at Walter Reed, a renowned medical facility in nearby Bethesda.
Walter Reed said it notified the Franciscans in March that their contract would not be renewed, and that another bidder for the new contract had been selected — secular defense contractor Mack Global LLC.
The medical center said it issued a cease-and-desist order on April 4 — in the midst of Holy Week — when Franciscans continued to provide pastoral services after their contract expired on March 31.
The events dismayed Timothy Broglio, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and also is archbishop for the Military Services.
“I fear that giving a contract to the lowest bidder overlooked the fact that the bidder cannot provide the necessary service,” Broglio said in a statement last week. “
On Wednesday, Broglio provided an updated response to The Associated Press.
“The Archdiocese has been assured that the situation will be rectifie …

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