Walter Reed Military Hospital Reviewing Contract For Chaplain Services After Ordering Off Catholic Priests

(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
Font Size:

The Pentagon’s health agency said Tuesday it is reviewing a contract for chaplaincy services at Walter Reed Military Medical Center after facing backlash for sending a “cease and desist” letter to the Franciscan Friars at Holy Name College Friary in Silver Spring, Maryland, according to the Washington Times.

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) terminated a 20-year relationship with the Friars on March 31, just before Easter Sunday, instead awarding a contract to a private firm that Catholic authorities say cannot provide chaplain services according to their religious tradition, because chaplains must work for a bishop, not a private company.  Congressional Republicans sent a letter Tuesday to DHA calling the decision “unconscionable,” prompting a promise from Walter Reed to reevaluate the contract, the Washington Times reported.

The contract “is under review to ensure it adequately supports the religious needs of our patients and beneficiaries,” Walter Reed told the outlet in a statement Tuesday. (RELATED: States Have Become The New Battleground For Religious Liberty)

Robin Mack, Mack Global’s CEO, acknowledged the day before the firm was “still in the process” of working out how to provide ordained Catholic priests, according to the Washington Times.

Senate and House GOP lawmakers, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, said Mack Global LLC, the secular professional services company receiving the contract, lacks the ability to provide appropriate religious services to veterans and service members. Allowing Mack Global to proceed with the contract “deny service members and veterans the rights and abilities to practice their religion and participate in certain practices such as pastoral care and the sacraments which can only be carried out by an ordained Catholic priest,” the letter stated.

“Depriving service members and veterans, who are receiving care, of the ability to enter into the Paschal Mystery with priests is utterly unconscionable,” it continued, accusing DHA doctors of prioritizing experimental gender transition procedures while ignoring religious rights of patients at Walter Reed.

If Mack Global cannot meet the terms of the contract, then the Defense Health Agency would revoke the agreement and either reopen the request for bids or award the contract to the second-place winner from the previous round, Rick McNamara, a spokesperson for Walter Reed, told the Washington Times.

Mack Global provides “telework consulting services, administrative and religious staffing, transportation and roadway services, [and] professional development and training,” according to its website.

However, Catholic doctrine requires the holy sacraments to be administered by a validly ordained priest, according to the Washington Times.

Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services (AMS), condemned the move as a violation of servicemembers and veterans’ first amendment rights in a statement.

Walter Reed argued Tuesday evening it could provide Catholic services without a contract and referred to priests assigned to other Department of Defense directorates in the vicinity, according to the Washington Times.

Walter Reed “is a welcoming and healing environment that honors and supports a full range of religious, spiritual and cultural needs,” the medical center said.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact