The war on Christianity and the Constitution may have taken a darker turn for Holy Week after the Catholic friary responsible for providing services to Walther Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) was issued a cease and desist letter.
From April 2, Palm Sunday, through April 9, Easter Sunday, Catholic services for wounded veterans being treated in Bethesda, Maryland would normally have been provided by priests and brothers from Holy Name College as they had been for nearly 20 years. However, their contract to provide pastoral services was abruptly terminated on March 31, two days before Holy Week began, in favor of a secular defense contracting firm, according to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).
“It is incomprehensible that essential pastoral care is taken away from the sick and the aged when it was so readily available,” Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio said as part of a statement released on Good Friday, April 7, the day that marks the crucifixion of Jesus.
“This is a classic case where the adage ‘if it is not broken, do not fix it’ applies,” the archbishop continued and added, “I fear that giving a contract to the lowest bidder overlooked the fact that the bidder cannot provide the necessary service. I earnestly hope that this disdain for the sick will be remedied at once and their First Amendment rights will be respected.”
Image: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, March 2, 2022
In their own statements, Walter Reed officials claimed that there would be no interruption of services and that the contract was merely “under review.” Furthermore, they assured parishioners that a Catholic priest would be on hand through Easter Sunday to commemorate the resurrection.
“Services will include a celebration of Mass and the administration of Confession by an ordained Catholic priest. For many years, a Catholic ordained priest has been on staff at WRNMMC providing religious sacraments to service members, veterans and their loved ones. There has also been a pastoral care contract in place to supplement those services provided,” Walter Reed contended on social media.
“Although at this time, the Franciscan Diocese will not be hosting services on Sunday at WRNMMC, parishioners of the Diocese while patients at WRNMMC may still seek their services,” they added.
Tomorrow, Catholic Easter Services will be provided to those who wish to attend. Services will include a celebration of Mass and the administration of Confession by an ordained Catholic Priest. (2 of 2)
— Walter Reed Bethesda (@WRBethesda) April 8, 2023
However, the statement from AMS noted that a patient’s right to do something and their ability were not inherently aligned: “Especially, during Holy Week, the lack of adequate Catholic pastoral care causes untold and irreparable harm to Catholics who are hospitalized and therefore a captive population whose religious rights the government has a constitutional duty to provide for and protect.”
Furthermore, AMS general counsel Elizabeth A. Tomlin reportedly received no reply to requests for reinstatement at least through Easter to make certain no patient was denied.
Much criticism was turned toward President Joe Biden over the move as the self-described Catholic marked the annual holiday but evidently took no action to intercede on behalf of Catholic veterans.
Illinois Rep. Mary Miller took a shot quote tweeting Biden’s post from Ash Wednesday and asked, “Why did you kick Catholic priests out of Walter Reed Medical Center on Easter weekend?”
Why did you kick Catholic priests out of Walter Reed Medical Center on Easter weekend? https://t.co/IVtujMeWwM
— Rep. Mary Miller (@RepMaryMiller) April 8, 2023
Former President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. provided his answer to that question when he tweeted, “They hate you and will do anything to breakdown the foundations of America.”
They hate you and will do anything to breakdown the foundations of America. https://t.co/OnpmKLHsAs
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 10, 2023
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