Borough President Vito Fossella, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis urge Walter Reed National Military Medical Center To Revisit Pastoral Care Contract
Borough President Vito Fossella and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis wrote a letter to Captain Felix A. Bigby, Interim Director of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, urging him to reverse the decision to award a contract for Catholic pastoral care to a secular for-profit company.
In the days leading up to Holy Week 2023, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center issued a “Cease and Desist Order” to the Friars of Holy Name College who have ministered to our active members of the military and veterans for almost two decades.
Below is the text of the full letter:
"We write to register our concern and dismay regarding the recent treatment of both the Friars of Holy Name College (FHNC) and the Catholic Archdiocese of the Military Services in the days leading up to Holy Week 2023.
It is our understanding that the FHNC have ministered at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) for almost two decades and that a new contract for Catholic pastoral care has been awarded to a secular for-profit organization.
It is our further understanding that in the days leading up to Holy Week 2023, the FHNC was served with a “Cease and Desist Order.
Apart from the untimely and inappropriately heavy-handed legal tactic of WRNMMC, we are concerned that the Medical Center’s actions come dangerously close to denying the captive population of hospitalized patients their First Amendment rights to practice their religion in a federal facility. The Medical Center’s last-minute decision to provide Catholic services of the Celebration of Mass and the Administration of Confession by an ordained Catholic priest during the Holy Week does little to allay our concerns regarding the future of Catholic services at WRNMMC after the new, secular for-profit company contract is in place. Oftentimes in convalescence, a patient requires a mixture of medical care with spiritual care, with both being very important.
Clearly, WRNMMC’s recent decisions need to be revisited to ensure that the members of our military who so unselfishly and heroically made sacrifices for our country will enjoy the very freedom of religion they fought to protect."