@MilArchUSA Archbp. Broglio Responds to US Navy Decision to Cancel Catholic Priest Contracts

UPDATE 9 Sept 2020:


Archbishop Timothy Broglio Expresses Gratitude for U.S. Navy Decision to Retain Contracts with Catholic Priests
Navy reverses decision to cancel priest contracts at Naval Bases Coronado and Ventura County and Naval Support Activity Monterey

WASHINGTON, DC – His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, issued the following statement today on the U.S. Navy’s decision to retain contracts with civilian Catholic priests at naval bases in California for at least another year.

Archbishop Broglio said:

“Catholics in the Navy and everywhere in this Country rejoice in the decision by the U.S. Navy to reconsider closing the thriving Catholic programs at naval stations in California.

“I am deeply grateful to everyone who lent their support and encouragement to maintaining these programs. In a particular way, I am grateful to the Navy Chief of Chaplains and his staff, as well as, Navy Southwest for their consideration and effort.”

UPDATE 9 Sept 2020:

UPDATE 9 Sept 2020:

The San Diego Union-Tribune says:

Navy changes course, says Catholic services will continue on area bases

After public outcry, Navy Region Southwest reversed a cost-cutting decision that would have ended Catholic services on many area Navy bases


Originally Published on: Sep 8, 2020 at 18:25


His Excellency in contact with Navy Command to urge reconsideration of constitutionally questionable decision

WASHINGTON, DC –  The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), has received many messages and is well aware of the news items published over the past few days about the decision by the U.S. Navy regarding the pastoral care of Catholics at Naval Base (NB) CoronadoNaval Support Activity (NSA) Monterey, and NB Ventura County—all of which are currently served by civilian Catholic priests willing and able to continue their ministry.  In what’s being described as a “cost-cutting” move, the Navy has announced it will cancel the contracts of civilian Catholic priests who serve these military faith communities. Meanwhile on-base Protestant services, led by active-duty non-Catholic chaplains, will continue as usual.

For some time now, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, has been engaged with the Navy Chief of Chaplains and has been trying to meet with those responsible for this decision. Archbishop Broglio noted the savings from cancelling these contracts amounts to a mere 250-thousand dollars—approximately 0.000156% of the Navy’s budget.  “It is difficult to fathom how the First Amendment rights of the largest faith group in the Navy can be compromised for such an insignificant sum,” Archbishop Broglio said. His Excellency expressed hope the Navy will reconsider the decision.

U.S. Navy chaplains serve the pastoral needs not only of the Navy but also the Marines and the Coast Guard. Currently, due to a nationwide shortage of Catholic priests, only 48 priests serve as active-duty Navy chaplains, hardly enough to meet the pastoral needs of more than 135-thousand Catholics now on active duty in all three service branches, plus their families. The Catholic Church depends on civilian priests under contract with the Department of Defense to fill the gap. If the Navy follows through with its decision to begin cancelling those contracts, Catholics who serve will be deprived of their First Amendment right to exercise their religion, casting doubt on the constitutional validity of the move.

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  1. Gab says:

    This does not make sense at all. $250,000 and the Navy doesn’t have the funds for that????
    No, this is diabolical.

  2. Semper Gumby says:

    God willing, this chaplain situation will be resolved appropriately in the near future.

    What would assist resolving matters like these is for the Commander-in-Chief to refrain from making scurrilous statements as he did yesterday at his Labor Day press conference:

    “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me,” Trump said. “The soldiers are, the top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs & make the planes & make everything else stay happy.”


    And his son could refrain from insults:

    “The last time Joe Biden decided to believe what unsubstantiated anonymous “sources” were saying, it ended with him voting to send your kids to die in Iraq based on their lies.”


    Donald Trump Jr. is clearly unaware that the “kids” were volunteers; that there are determined and intelligent military professionals in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s who also served; and that “lies” is a baseless Leftist slogan which is egregiously insulting to those who served willingly and understood full well why the Saddam Hussein regime had to be destroyed.

    Donald Trump Jr., as with Rep. Gaetz and Sen. Paul at the Republican Convention, seem determined to insult Gold Star Families and disabled vets. This is a foolish course of action.

    Poor judgement- to the point of recklessness- by these gentlemen. The suggestion here, as there is clearly a refusal by these gentlemen to grasp the facts, is: Less Talk.

  3. hwriggles4 says:

    I was disappointed when I heard this news today in my news feed. This doesn’t seem to be confined to just some Navy and Marine Corps bases, but also to some Army and Air Force bases. One argument made by the military seems to be “oh there’s a Catholic Church in town, or there’s five within a 30 minute drive, why can’t they just go there?” There’s also a shortage of Rabbis in the Chaplain Corps, so I would think the majority of practicing Jewish soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors (including Coasties) go to Temple off base. I am sure most Coasties go off base, unless they are stationed at USCGA or Cape May, NJ.

    Well – for many soldiers, airmen, and sailors, it’s important that they have pastoral care by someone who can relate to them. Many Catholics would not get that at say, a rural parish or at a huge parish. This is one reason those who live on base prefer the base chapel. San Diego does boot camp for the Marines, so it’s good to have a Catholic chaplain assigned for Catholic enlisted recruits.

    The majority of today’s military is between 18 and 29 years old (42 is a popular age to retire for an E-7 and quite a few O-5s are retired by the age of 48), so it is important that they have a pastor who can relate to the younger generation.

    I am glad Archbishop Broglio brought up the cost. I would be willing to contribute to raising the $250K to keep a contract Catholic chaplain like Fr. Pimentel.

  4. JonPatrick says:

    I agree that Trump may not be helping matters with the way he is dealing with his top brass. On the other hand he dies have a point about these interminable wars. I’m not sure how responsible the brass is for this or whether the blame should be on the politicians. We are about to hit the 20th anniversary of our involvement in Afghanistan, a war with no clear objective and one where it is hard to detect any real progress. One suspects that the day after we pull out it will be as if we had never been there. I agree with Trump that if we are going to fight a war it should be to defend our country and there should be clear objectives.
    JonPatrick former Capt. USAF

  5. NOCatholic says:

    A disappointing move, and as the Archbishop for the Military Services points out, one that saves an insignificant (to the Federal budget) amount of money. I was relieved, however, to find out this does not affect Catholic priest-contractors at overseas military bases, where going off-base is not a viable option if one wants a Mass in English (and where a TLM is surely a rarity).

    @ hwriggles4: Exactly right.

  6. Marine Mom says:

    The Navy is in TROUBLE, since they decided to have a conversation with the prince of this world
    St Michael pray for us.

  7. WVC says:

    Having a fairly close relationship with both the Navy and with Catholic Chaplains in the Navy, while regrettable, I don’t think this is a targeted attack against the Catholic Church. The shortage of priests in the Chaplain Corps is a by-product of the shortage of priests, period. Protestant Chaplains, which have significantly lower requirements to meet, are bountiful. In fact, many Protestant preachers, unable to find a steady job in the private sector, go to the Chaplain Corps as a back-up. The Navy, which is looking at some extremely large budget shortfalls (resulting from a combination of Naval leadership incompetence and external budget pressures) likely is looking at this matter as a pure cost cutting measure. For every non-chaplain priest who comes to say Mass at a CONUS base, there’s a contract which is extra money on top of the funds already dedicated to the Chaplain Corps, and given the limited number of priests in the Corps those resources are best spent on ships or foreign bases. (I know one Catholic Chaplain that got deployed 3 times in a row – that’s 6 years straight either on ships or stationed overseas!) The reason Protestants weren’t targeted is because their costs are already within the Corps budget. The reasons Jewish Chaplains likely weren’t targeted is because they’re so small. Most bases I’ve been to do not offer any Jewish services, either provided by Chaplains or private sector rabbis. Nothing there to cut, no cost savings.

    So, unfortunate, but very likely not done with malice. The only real way to fix this problem is to pray for vocations for your sons, and encourage them to become priests. There are no short term fixes for long term problems.

  8. WVC says:

    @Semper Gumby – I will very respectfully and only very slightly disagree with you, sir. While I agree, Mr. Trump would often benefit with a “less is more” approach to just about everything involving his mouth and his tweeting, I believe he is justified in besmirching the upper brass of our military. Speaking about the Navy alone, with which I have much intimate experience, I can say, without qualification, that Naval leadership has been the absolute dog’s breakfast for at least two decades. Between the insane corruption around the LCS program to the absurd urgency of putting women on submarines and pushing “diversity! Diversity!! DIVERSITY!!!” over competence and qualification (a strategy which has lead to an unprecedented number of at sea collisions, costing sailors lives, over the past two years) – they have a great deal to atone for. Their concern, by and large, is not winning wars, not fighting for American interests, and it sure as heck ain’t the lives and safety of the sailors. It’s their own careers, both politically and privately.

    I submit Gary Roughead as the prime exhibit of corruption that knows no shame – just check out his lucrative career AFTER retiring as Chief of Naval Operations where he is now chairman of the board for Fincantieri Marinette. The cursed LCS ship, which even the Pentagon’s own tests determined is not combat worthy and which will likely be decommissioned long before its expected lifetime, was Roughead’s baby. He made illogical, costly decisions to keep this 2-variant ship class alive to the detriment of the Navy’s fleet readiness and the safety and sanity of the sailors. Then, after retiring, he now serves as the head of one of the companies involved in the design and building of the LCS. THIS guy is who Trump is talking about.

    This is just the Navy. From what I hear from colleagues in the other services, it’s not much better in any branch of the service. My father served. My grandfather served. I served. I am actively encouraging my sons to NOT serve. Not under the current environment where politicians and flag officers use military lives like political poker chips with little concern for their well being or our country’s best interest. Besides, I hope they have vocations to the priesthood.

    I believe this is the point President Trump is trying to make (albeit in his traditional Queens-like braggadocio) – he supports and honors the sailors and soldiers that do the hard work and make the sacrifices, but he has open scorn for the military “leadership” that is clearly in the pocket of the military-industrial complex.

    Regarding the Iraq war – complicated topic for another comment threat on some other website.

    Best to you and yours, Semper Gumby!

  9. WVC says:

    I should add, as one also familiar with how budget decisions are made, the fact that the cost savings is small doesn’t factor into the decision process. Back under Obama there were forced 10-day furloughs of Federal civilians in order to “save” money. In reality, at the command I work at, civilian salaries make up only 2% of the overall annual expenditures (which is in the billions). So the furlough saved a whopping 10% of 2% of the total costs for that command, and, due to poor hiring and higher attrition, the command wound up under-executing civilian labor funding anyway resulting in ~$20M surplus of funding. So that decision saved 10% of 2% of the total costs in a funding line that wound up having millions of extra dollars anyway (and Federal money is appropriated such that one cannot easily spend excess money from one program in another program).

    If you want to understand how the Federal Government operates administratively, including within the DoD, just read a lot of Dilbert.

  10. acardnal says:

    Thanks to President Trump, it was reversed!

  11. hwriggles4 says:

    I am glad this was rescinded. Archbishop Broglio seems to stick up for his flock. As a shepherd, he earned my respect when he testified to Congress on “the danger of repealing don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue. ” Abp. Broglio has even spent his Christmas season traveling to remote bases and spending time on Navy and Coast Guard vessels. He’s got guts and doesn’t retreat. There had been rumors on and off that he may be destined for another See (at 69, he’s not old) but I hope he gets to stay at the helm of the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    “The religious services will continue for at least the next year, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander Navy Region Southwest, said in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.”

    Good news. However, please note: 1) “at least the next year” 2) these incidents are recurring 3) these incidents will likely increase under a Biden-Harris administration.

    The following comment is with an eye to the future.

    From the Archdiocese News Release: “If the Navy follows through with its decision to begin cancelling those contracts, Catholics who serve will be deprived of their First Amendment right to exercise their religion, casting doubt on the constitutional validity of the move.”

    They are free to attend Catholic Mass in town. Claiming that the Navy will deprive Catholics of their First Amendment rights is unhelpful.

    “Meanwhile on-base Protestant services, led by active-duty non-Catholic chaplains, will continue as usual.”

    Which points to a problem often mentioned: the Catholic “demographic sinkhole.” Attendance at Catholic Mass on base by Catholic servicemen and servicewomen would be increased by reducing the number of ex-Catholics, both military and civilian. Which calls for, as usual, better catechesis by Catholics.

    These recurring incidents are taking on the appearance of some Catholics demanding that the Navy solve a Catholic problem. More Catholic priests in the Chaplain Corps would be helpful.

    Gab: Your sentiment is understandable, but so is the appearance that you are jumping to a conclusion. The intricacies of budgeting, whether at the Pentagon or the Vatican, means anomalies will occur on occasion without malicious intent. Lack of common sense and overreacting can turn a molehill into a mountain. Of course, fraud and corruption are a separate issue.

    Marine Mom: Speaking of conversations with the Prince of this World, one reason for an increase in the number of ex-Catholics, whether military or civilian, is the current pro-Marxist, anti-American and pro-Pachamama pontificate.

    WVC: Correct, this is not an attack by the Navy on the Catholic Church. Also correct, there will always be some retired service personnel who exploit their military service. And careerism will always be an issue in government, corporations, academia, media and church.

    Though, actively discouraging military service might be going too far, but God bless you and your sons- vocations are obviously important. Your statement “politicians and flag officers use military lives like political poker chips” is painting with too broad a brush. Please note, there are politicians and flag officers with sons and daughters in the military. Finally, correct: emphasizing “diversity” over competence and mission-accomplishment is a problem in the military, government, academia, media and church.

    Interesting post and comments.

    Of assistance here in civil-military-religious relations is toning down the rhetoric. Abp. Broglio, Marine Mom, Pres. Trump and the aforementioned gentlemen in my comment above are painting with too broad a brush.

    The Commander-in-Chief insisting that Dept. of Defense senior military and civilian leaders are interested only in fighting wars so that defense companies “stay happy” is, to say the least, needlessly provocative. The continued disdain by well-known political figures towards the sacrifices made by military personnel, intelligence officers, aid workers and diplomats in the GWOT during the last two decades stems from these political figures miscomprehending events from 1990-2003, and also misunderstanding the nature and capabilities of religious and political fanatics. The problem with the Catholic demographic sinkhole is primarily, but not exclusively, a reflection on Church leadership.

    In our current foreign and domestic predicament all of us have room for improvement. Christus Vincit.

  13. hwriggles4 says:

    It’s good to see some posters discuss Protestant chaplains here too. My experience on some bases remembers a “traditional type” service and an “ecumenical type” service on Sunday for Protestants. The ecumenical service was more like a non denominational church. Those who wanted a more conservative service would often attend the traditional service.

    Protestants who want something specific to their own denomination (unless they are at a large base) will most likely have to go off base on Sunday.

  14. Fulco One Eye says:

    I have to second the comments made by WVC vis-a-vis those of Semper Gumby. I base this on having spent my entire career working with officers in all the services (esp., Navy and AF) and having direct association with the highest levels of the military at the Pentagon.

  15. Marine Mom says:

    Semper Gumpy:
    Navy Times 2019/11/01
    Midshipmen finally get a satanic temple room – Navy Times
    I stand by my previous statement
    St Michael pray for us

  16. Semper Gumby says:

    Fulco One Eye: For your consideration. On Nov. 9, 2010, 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly was killed in action in Afghanistan. His father is Gen. John Kelly, President Trump’s former chief of staff. Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son served in Iraq. Cheers.

  17. Semper Gumby says:

    Marine Mom: Thank you for your son’s service, and your support of him.

    Your comment states “The Navy is in TROUBLE, since they decided to have a conversation with the prince of this world.”

    A funding issue in one corner of the Navy need not lead one directly to the conclusion that there is coordination between the Chief of Naval Operations and Satan. Strictly speaking, “the Navy” does not create funding issues, people do. Moreover, the CNO was likely unaware of a 250k funding decision made in one part of the numerous Navy facilities in California.

    Your concern is understandable here, and also with the satanic prayer room at the Naval Academy reported in the Navy Times. Though, the Navy Times is not an official DoD newspaper. Their use of “finally” is their editor’s decision and should not be taken to mean that hundreds of thousands of sailors rejoiced over this decision. There are many sailors not amused by this.

    Perhaps you could call the Naval Academy and inquire into who authorized that room and why, write your congressman, organize a group, contact a lawyer skilled in military matters. Options are available.

    But there are always misfits in the military, as in the Church and in government. That is the world in 2020, then again, that is the way it has been since that afternoon in the Garden.

    The Army recently discharged a second lieutenant for displaying a Che Guevara t-shirt under his uniform at his West Point graduation. There are standards.

    So, rather than going the “Prince of this world” route, perhaps more evangelization is called for here. Explain to those who approved that room in Annapolis the insidious threat it represents to God and Country. Cheers.

  18. Donna says:

    Agree. This was an unfortunate decision, but not malicious. The Church should be careful and take ownership here too. We have not provided the young men needed for the Priesthood as well as the Chaplain Corps.

  19. SKAY says:

    It is clear the Commander and Chief was not made aware of this before it became
    news and when I read about it I did not think this would be anything that President Trump would approve of.
    We were a twenty year military family and It is easy for me to pick out those
    administrations that were working to weaken all branches of our military in many different ways within and without this country and that includes putting weak left leaning people in charge during their 8 years of running things . The same can be said of those trying to weaken and remove true Christianity within our country. This President knows what is important for both to be

  20. Semper Gumby says:

    “take ownership” good point by Donna

    “working to weaken all branches of our military in many different ways within and without” good point by Skay

    Pagan rituals and “diversity training” sessions can… get out of hand. See UCMJ 134 (its scope has been narrowed over the years, but it can be expanded); “conduct unbecoming”; “good order and discipline.”

    “Discipline is the Soul of an Army” – George Washington

  21. SKAY says:

    Semper Gumby said:

    “Discipline is the Soul of an Army” – George Washington

    George Washington was correct and our military should never be used as a
    leftist social experiment.

  22. MWindsor says:

    I was USCG, and our chaplains were USN where I was stationed. The Catholic chaplain was called, “Father L.T.” He had an impact on my eventual conversion. He was one of three people in my life that the Holy Ghost dropped in front of me and I couldn’t ignore. He was the first Catholic priest I ever met, and he was the first Catholic priest that several others had ever met as well.

  23. Semper Gumby says:

    Skay: Good point

    acardnal: Good point

  24. NOCatholic says:

    Glad to hear the Navy reversed its decision. I agree that the original decision was not malicious.

  25. WVC says:

    Regarding the significant portion of military leaders (trying to use a smaller brush), this is an interesting read:

  26. robtbrown says:

    As someone said above, the military has trouble finding priests. In Rome I knew US priests (one well known to Fr Augustine) who were flown to a military base on the weekend. Protestant ministers, however, are not hard to find. They have families to support and like the money and pension.

    I doubt the attempt to cutback Catholic funds is a coincidence. Since Cardinal O’Connor left as Chief Navy Chaplain in 1979, only 2 of 13 have been priests.

    I had a friend in Rome, very bright and fun, a Navy brat, grad of the Naval Academy, and former marine. He wanted to become a navy chaplain. He was told he first had to spend a couple of years in a parish in his diocese. He did, then left the priesthood.

    In the USAFA cadet chapel there is the Falcon Circle, a worship area for “earth-centered spirituality”, incl Wicca, Druidism, and Paganism.

  27. Semper Gumby says:

    WVC: Good point. History, in all times and places, has numerous examples of generals and admirals who begin to think they are God’s gift to their country.

    That said, Bob Woodward has a habit of sensationalizing his reporting.

    James Mattis, an outstanding Marine and an outstanding general who became Secretary of Defense, was fired by Pres. Trump for good cause. Though, one is quite skeptical that James Mattis, who can be difficult, would participate in a coup against the U.S. government. That simply does not ring true.

    A reasonable analogy might be Gen. Patton. Patton was perfectly suited to training and leading troops, his battlefield reputation was well-earned. However, sending Gen. Patton to Washington DC in coat and tie and making him Secretary of Defense would reasonably raise second thoughts. That is not meant to slight Gen. Patton, it is merely an observation about the strengths and weaknesses all human beings have.

    American generals and admirals dedicated their lives to this country in a dangerous and stressful service. They should be criticized when the situation calls for it, and there are certainly situations that call for sharp criticism, but mocking is absolutely inappropriate.

    Pres. Truman was correct to fire Gen. McArthur during the Korean War in 1951. Gen. McArthur absolutely had to be relieved of his command (one biography of McArthur is titled, for better or worse, “American Caesar.”)

    Though… it’s worth quoting a bit from McArthur’s speech to the Corps of Cadets at West Point in 1962 (McArthur died in 1964). McArthur graduated from West Point as a second lieutenant in 1903.

    Here, in 1962, facing soon-to-be second lieutenants, McArthur reflected on the “American man at arms”:

    His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy’s breast.

    But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements.

    From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage. As I listened to those songs of the glee club, in memory’s eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through mire of shell-pocked roads; to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.

    In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.

    Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps.

    I bid you farewell.

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