In a message for Veterans Day, the archbishop for the U.S. military services voiced thanks for donors and those who pray for Catholics in military service.
“The fruits of your prayers and charitable acts enrich the lives of our Nation's service members,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, wrote in a Nov. 10 letter.
“Your love for them is felt by those stationed in remote locations who are able to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist, those serving stateside who can receive counsel and guidance from chaplains, and veterans undergoing treatment at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, especially those in need of Holy Communion or the anointing of the sick.”
The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA serves some 1.8 million Catholics worldwide at 220 U.S. military installations in 29 countries and at 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the United States. Pope St. John Paul II established the independent archdiocese in 1985.
Archbishop Broglio urged donors to be generous to the military archdiocese, which is currently running on a $425,000 budget deficit and receives no funds from the government or the military for its operations.
“Throughout what has been a very tumultuous year, with your prayers, love, and support, AMS priests have been able to minister to service members and their families. They have celebrated Masses outdoors and via live stream, recorded inspirational talks for those in quarantine, anointed and comforted the sick, and administered the other sacraments.”
“November also calls for us to pray for the souls of those who have fallen and for the consolation of those who mourn and of those wounded in service to our nation. Prayer leads us to action. A simple but powerful way action can accompany each of our prayers is through charity,” he noted.
Veterans Day is observed in the United States on November 11 each year.
Catholics make up nearly 20% of the U.S. military, but a much smaller portion of the military’s chaplain corps. U.S. military recruiters and the Archdiocese for the Military Services have made efforts to recruit priests to serve as active duty or reserve chaplains in U.S. military branches. Chaplains are commissioned military officers classified as non-combatants.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the military archdiocese has stressed the importance of bringing the sacraments to its Catholic service members.
Broglio contacted the Navy Chief of Chaplains’ Office earlier this year to protest restrictions on some sailors attending “off-base indoor religious services” during the pandemic.
Broglio called the Navy’s order “particularly odious to Catholics,” because, he said, frequently there is no longer a Catholic program on naval installations due to budgetary constraints, or many installation chapels simply are still closed.
“Participation in the Sunday Eucharist is life blood for Catholics. It is the source and summit of our lives and allows us to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord,” he said.
The Navy reversed its decision in July, allowing sailors to attend off-base indoor religious services as long as they take precautions such as face masks and social distancing.
Broglio also spoke out against a Navy decision not to renew contracts with civilian priests, in order to save money. The decision left three Navy bases without a priest in September. The Navy later reversed that decision.