Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, Priests’ Manual, 1993.


Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A.

Ordinariatus Castrensis - U.S.A.

Revised 1993

The priestly faculties of The Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A. are granted to … until revocation or the termination of his service as chaplain.

Priests serving part-time in the Archdiocese for the Military Services have the faculties of the Archdiocese except for those pertaining to marriage.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A.

Archdiocesan Offices

962 Wayne Avenue, Suite 500

Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

Phone: 301-495-4100 FAX: 301-589-3774

Bishops' Residence

832 Varnum Street, N.E.

Washington DC 20017

Phone: 202-526-0367


Message of the Holy Father

Statutes of the Military Ordinariate

Prologue - History of Chaplaincy and A.M.S.

Christian Era

United States

The Archdiocese for the Military Services

Chaplains Killed in Wartime

Chapter I ‐ Organizational Structure



Financial Support

Catholic Groups

Chapter II ‐ Sacramental Matters






Anointing of Sick

Christian Burial

Holy Orders

Chapter III ‐ Pastoral Matters

Archdiocesan Faculties





Anointing of the Sick





Clerical Gatherings

Due Process





Lenten Rules

Priestly Spirituality


Days of Recollection/Retreats

Religious Gatherings for Military Personnel

Religious Education

Reports and Records

Department of Veterans Affairs

Chapter IV ‐ Jurisdictional Matters


Types - Personal, Territorial, Cumulative

Subjects ‐ Clergy, Laity, Retirees

Marriage Jurisdiction

Permissions and Dispensations

Marriage Tribunal

Other Sacraments

Eastern Rites


Constitution, Spirituali Militum Curae

Code of Canon Law, excerpts

Archdiocesan Coat of Arms

Bishops' Peace Pastoral, excerpts


Dear Military Chaplains: I greet you all most warmly.

Military chaplains present a new and immense possibility for doing good, in which the Church has placed a great confidence. They take care of innumerable hosts of young people, strong and brave, but sometimes exposed to serious spiritual danger.

Your ministry is exercised in border positions, not only because of its organic connection with the Church and with a structure of the State, but also because of the ever more sensitive implications of the environment where you work. Where there is a human being, there is also a place for a priest. This is even moretrue in those places where men are found by the hundreds of thousands.

All want peace; and this is certainly a wonderful fact in the moral development of humanity. But peace, as taught by Sacred Scripture and the experience of men itself, is more than just the absence of war. And the Christian is aware that on earth a human society that is completely and always peaceful is unfortunately a utopia and that the ideologies which present it as easily attainable only nourish vain hopes. In an age of disturbing technological developments, this demands from all of us the duty to consider the complex reality with a complete new mentality.

Chaplains, you have been called to reflect ever more about this topic, at prayer and at study in order to give your faithful, those in charge at the different levels of the military organization or to young men in military training, some challenge of our time to demand clearness aswell asdedication.

The cause of peace will not go forward by denyingthe possibility and the obligation to defend it. The cause of peace, and hence of the survival of humanity, demands today special carefulness and equilibrium. As priests you are called to give your contribution by forming men — particularly the young — towards Christian maturity.

The role of the military chaplain has become more demanding today, but also more important, for the Church and for the entire society. We all know how much our contemporary society has lost its contact with God and consequently with a precise scale of values that give meaning to life. The youth of our time are very often without energy or reason to live with joy and hope. It Would not be wise if the Church failed to avail of this precious occasion for meeting and dialogue, in connection with military service.

We see the importance of the military chaplain as priest, who becomes their father, brother and friend, promoting their human formation and their spiritual enrichment. The chaplains will help them to see the period of military service as a useful and often indispensable service for peace and freedom, although with the rightful respect for legitimate alternative choices, which cannot be considered exclusive or preferential.

Your duty is a service to freedom. By your fidelity, even more than by your teaching, you should offer to everyone sound models and concreteproposalsof life.

May the awareness of the greatness of your mission help you overcome every temptation to discouragement and lack of involvement. The Kingdom of God demands determination and constancy. Take back to your detachments my greetings and my blessing. May the military, through your indefatigable ministry, truly become defenders of justice and thus builders of peace.

Excerpts from an address of Pope John Paul II to the military chaplains of Italy, March 10th, 1986.


(The Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A.)


From the period of the War of Independence until World War I the pastoral care of military personnel was provided for in various ways under the authority of the local Ordinaries. On November 24, 1917 the Apostolic See apppointed a Bishop for the Military in the United States, On November 25, 1939, the Archbishop of New York was designated as Military Vicar for U.S. military personnel. On June 13, 1946 the jurisdiction of the Military Vicar was extended to Catholic civilians serving the U.S. Government overseas and further amplified on November 4, 1954. In 1946 the Veterans Administration was placed under the same jurisdiction.

Subsequent to the Instruction Sollemne semper of April 25, 1951, the Apostolic See, by the Decree Mysticam Petri Naviculam of September 8, 1957, formally erected the Military Vicariate, to be united to the office of the Archbishop of New York. On December 15, 1975 a Coadjutor to the Military Vicar was apppointed. Finally, by the Decree Apostolica Sedes of January 14, 1975, the Military Vicariate was established as an independent Vicariate and the new Military Vicar was installed on March 25, 1985.

I. The canonical or official name of the previously entitled Military Vicariate is Military Ordinariate. For suitable usage in the United States the Military Ordinariate shall be known as The Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A.

II. The Military Ordinariate is governed by the norms of:

(a) The Apostolic Constitution Spirituali Militum Curae of April 21, 1986. 

(b) These particular statutes sanctioned by the Holy See. 

(c) The universal laws of the Church even though not specified in the preceding documents. 

Ill. The seat and principal church of the Military Ordinariate is established in Washington, D.C. The curia shall be located in Washington or its environs.

IV. The Military Ordinary shall be assigned archepiscopal dignity and shall enjoy the rights and be held to the obligations proper to a diocesan bishop. By right he is to participate in the Episcopal Conference of the United States of America.

V. Unless the Apostolic See shall provide otherwise, Sede vacante vel impedita, the senior Auxiliary Bishop shall serve as Administrator of the Military Ordinariate. Lacking an Auxiliary Bishop, the College of Consultors shall elect an Administrator.

VI. A suitable number of Auxiliary Bishops shall be appointed, at the pleasure of the Apostolic See, to assist the Military Ordinary in his pastoral ministry and in the care of souls in this far-extended jurisdiction.

VII. The Military Ordinary and the Auxiliary Bishops possess no military rank. However, they are treated by the U.S. Government with appropriate protocol and consideration. Their retirement from their ecclesiastical service in the Military Ordinariate is governed by the norms of Canon Law and the regulations of the Apostolic See.

VIII. Several Vicars General shall be appointed by the Military Ordinary for specific service in the Ordinariate. A Chancellor is appointed. Vice Chancellors are appointed for specific areas of administration. All Auxiliary Bishops are Vicars General; one is Vicar General in charge of administration.

IX. The Military Ordinariate possesses its own proper Tribunal and Judicial Vicar; it is located at the Central Offices of the Military Ordinariate. The Second InstanceCourt is the Court of Appeal of Region II of the National Conference of Bishops.

X. The prebyterate of the Military Ordinariate is composed of those priests, either secular or Religious, who, endowed with the qualities suited to the proper performance of this special pastoral work, and with the consent of their Ordinary, perform an office in the Military Ordinariate. The following are members of the Military Ordinariate:

(1) All priests who are called on an habitual basis to the office of military chaplain for the military of the United States of America; also those called on a temporary basis, during the time that they render their services. These include active, reserve and auxiliary chaplains.

(2) Priests who are chaplains of hospitals commonly called Veterans Administartion Facilities.

XI. All chaplains shall give particular attention to pastoral programs in which the laity are to be increasingly involved, directed to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life for men and women. Resultant candidates to the priesthood from the military community including but not limited to those specifically desiring to serve as military chaplains shall be provided guidance and assistance by the Ordinariate in pursuing preparatory studies in seminaries available to such candidates.

XII. A Presbyteral Council, a College of consultors, and a Finance Council are established according to the norm of Canon Law.

XIII. The faithful of the Military Ordinariate, by the witness of their Christian lives and by carrying out their responsibilities in virtue of their rebirth in Christ in Baptism, cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ. They plan their own part as an apostolic and even missionary leaven among the other military personnel with whom they are associated and lead their lives.

XIV. Local Pastoral Councils are established, whenever possible, in every military installation and are normally presided over by the senior military chaplain.

XV. The following faithful are members of the Military Ordinariate:

(1)  All the faithful who actuallyserve in the military service of land, sea or air, who, organized in military fashion, pertain in any way whatsever to these military services, or who are bound by the civil laws made for same. 

(2)  the faithful who serve on active duty in the Coast Guard. 

(3) The faithful who serve in the National Guard, Air National Guard, or Civil Air Patrol, while they are on active duty.

(4) The families of those listed in no. 1 and 2, namely, the spouses, children, even those who, though independent, live in the same houses; also, relatives and domestics living as well in the same houses; likewise, the Catholic family of a non-Catholic service member under the same circumstance.

(5) All the faithful, including members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, who attend official military, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine academies, or who live in military or Veterans Administration hospitals, or are engaged in the service of the same with residence there.

(6) All the faithful who dwell on military installations or in homes reserved by the civil government for military personnel and their families.

(7) All the faithful who are employed overseas by the government of the United States, whether in a military-connected employment or otherwise; members engaged in diplomatic or similar missions in foreign countries; the members of the above-mentioned persons residing with them.

XVI. For active duty chaplains, the subjects for marriage are those persons listed in nos. 1‐7 of XV above, excluding members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; for Veterans Administration chaplains, the subjects for marriage are residents and inpatients of Veterans Administration Facilities.

XVII. All sacramental records, i.e., of baptisms, confirmations, marriages, are sent by all chaplains to the Curia of the Military Ordinariate where they are registered according to the norms of Canon Law. Also, other records of the Ordinariate are kept in Curial archives.

XVIII. These particular statues shall take force three months from the date of their ratification by the Holy See, and cannot be modified without its approval.

These Statutes were approved by the Apostolic See on 18 August 1987.



We know that priests accompanied leaders and their armies into battle from the first days of human society. Chapter XX of the Book of Deuteronomy directs a specially appointed Hebrew priest to accompany the army and address the troops on the eve of battle. What was true for the Hebrews was also true for the pagan nations. Their priests would search ritually for omens of military success and offer sacrifices before and after battle.


We will see no signs of Christian chaplains in the first centuries, since even outside of persecution times the Church was barely tolerated by pagan Rome. However, the New Testament accepted the legitimacy of the military profession. John the Baptist counsels the Roman soldier how to conduct himself in his profession; Paul uses military imagery constantly; Christ praises the Roman Centurion; and Peter readily baptizes the Centurion Cornelius. The Acts of the Martyrs lists a goodly number of Christian soldiers who died for the Faith. But military life became a problem for the Christian as the excesses of later emperor-worship led into the age of persecution, even though the toleration of Christians in Romansociety would differ from emperor to emperor and from province to province. Under such historical circumstances, it appears that no Christian priests cared exclusively for soldiers in those first centuries. Christian soldiers had to seek out the local Christian community for religious support.


With religious freedom established by the Emperor Constantine in the Edict of Milan (313 AD), the Church took an active role in the life of the State. The historian Eusebius states that Constantine took priests with him in his military campaigns. How organized was the spiritual care of the troops is unclear. In Arian times, the clergy was regularly incorporated into the military. Legend has it that the name “chaplain" derives from the word for cape, or capella, and dates from the time of St. Martin of Tours, the Roman soldier of the 4th Century, who became after his military service first a monk, then a bishop, and eventually a patron saint of France. The military cloak which he cut in half to share with a beggar was treasured as a relic and carried into battle by the Frankish army. A priest was entrusted with the cloak and was called keeper of the cape or cappellanus or chaplain.


There were struggles between Church and State over lines of authority, and the immunity of the clergy from military service and from civil law was a constant issue. As Feudalism developed, bishops and abbots became land-owners and, as such, vassals within the feudal system. This involved the rendering of military service on occasion. In the Dark Ages, we find ecclesiastical lords leading their own troops into camp, and we also note the ambiguous role of the soldier priest who is both combatant and chaplain. Documents attributed to Charlemagne (803 AD) talk of clergy assigned to the army for the spiritual needs of the soldiers, with the double duty of caring for the wounded and of administering the sacraments. Such chaplaincy was usually temporary, since the feudal system did not call for standing armies. Everyone in feudal society was in the personal service of some higher lord. When danger arose and wars began, the lord called on his vassals, and his priests, to serve for the duration of the need.


The Crusades, one of the great military efforts in history, continued for almost three hundred years and certainly involved the clergy intimately. The literature on the Crusades provides what little information we have concerning the spiritual care of soldiers through the Middle Ages. Although each of the Crusades had its own characteristics, often there was a Papal Legate who was the spiritual guide of the Crusade. Clerics needed the permission of their bishop to join the Crusade, during which time they were not under his jurisdiction. They tended to the needs of the armies with the usual sacramental ministration as well as by tending the sick and burying the dead. We all know, too, of the religious military orders that sprang up at this time, such as the Knights of Malta and the Knights Templar. Thus while there was no fully organized chaplaincy corps, as we know it, there were many priests working full time with the military personnel throughout the Crusades.


As feudalism waned and nationalism developed, standing armies became a phenomenon of society. Duke Alexander Farnese, deputy of the Hapsburg Emperor for the Low Countries, is usually credited with developing a juridically established military chaplaincy. Concerned about the barbarism of his troops and motivated by his Catholic piety, Farnese introduced various religious Observances for his men and incorporated the clergy into the organizational structure of his army. How this was done canonically is unclear due to lack of historical documents. But it seems the Pope appointed an Apostolic Legate for the Hapsburg armies in the Low Countries, who in turn had his vicar general function as chief of chaplains. Thus, something similar to a military vicariate was formed. The chaplains came from both secular and religious clergy, having been given permission from their ecclesiastical superiors. The Jesuits, in particular, took on this apostolate, and in 1587 Farnese set up a Missio Castrensis, a company of twenty-four Jesuits, priests and brothers, who operated under detailed instructions and were attached to individual regiments.


We know that heroic missionary priests came with the French and Spanish and Portugese explorers and conquistadores to the Americas. However, their role was not primarily as ministers to the military. If anything, they were often in contention with the military and civil government, since their aim was the conversion of the native population. And yet, their work was intertwined with the efforts of the expeditionary forces. They were missionaries to the natives, but also the parish priests of the European military community.


The Continental Congress copied the British custom of having military chaplains as well as the precedent of earlier colonial governors who appointed chaplains to their militia. On July 29, 1775, the Congress authorized chaplains to be included in the army with the pay of a captain. On April 30, 1779, John Paul Jones asked for a Catholic priest to serve aboard the Ben Homme Richard, especially in consideration of the French sailors aboard, but nothing came of the request. While Catholics fought together with their fellow colonists for independence, no priests formed a part of the chaplaincy, for a variety of reasons. There were only twenty priests in all within the Thirteen Colonies (all former Jesuits, after the suppression of their Order in 1773) serving perhaps 20,000 Catholics out of a total population of over two million. Furthermore, there was a great deal of anti-Catholic bias in the colonies, stemming from England's religious strife. In fact, the Quebec Act of 1774, guaranteeing religious freedom to Canadian Catholics was denounced particularly in New England as a betrayal of the colonists by the King, a denunciation made with a vehemence that matched that of the protests against the Stamp Act. Furthermore, since the chaplains were originally picked according to the denomination of the majority of the troops in the regiment, we do not expect to find any Catholic priests in that number. So, Catholic troops were ministered to by local civilian clergy and sometimes by the chaplains of the French forces (about 100 priests accompanied the French army and navy to America), but on an informal basis. One priest, Father Louis Lotbiniere, is listed as a chaplain of the Continental Army, but he was a French Canadian appointed by General Benedict Arnold for a regiment of Canadian volunteers. His canonical status was questionable.


The history of the chaplaincy about the time of the War of 1812 is sketchy, because records of the War Department were destroyed when the British burned Washington. Of the twelve regular army chaplains in the War of 1812 whose names have survived, none were Catholic. Ministry to the troops would have come from civilian priests. The first Catholic priest to serve as a Navy officer was Father Adam Marshall, SJ. He served on the North Carolina from December 22, 1824 till his death on board the ship on September 20, 1825. He had the position of "schoolmaster" but acted as chaplain to the Catholic sailors. He is generally acknowledged as the first priest commissioned to serve in the armed forces of the United States.


In 1846, President Polk was concerned that the struggle with Mexico was being perceived on both sides as a sort of anti-Catholic crusade. So he was anxious to commission Catholic priests as army chaplains. Bishop Hughes of New York responded to a request of President Polk and talked to the Superior of the Jesuits, with the result that two Jesuits, Father John McElroy and Father Anthony Rey, were released from their assignments in Washington to serve with General Zachary Taylor's troops. Father Rey was killed in Mexico during the war; Father McElroy served one year and returned east and in 1863 founded Boston College. It seems clear that the two priests were not appointed as regular army chaplains but served as civilian government employees. President Polk also asked for a priest to serve with the Navy, but Bishop Hughes did not have a man available to send. No priest would be a Navy chaplain officially until 1888.

As forts were being set up in the westward expansion of the nation, chaplains were selected by each individual post. Often the chief consideration was that the man be a schoolteacher, with the result that chaplains were not necessarily ministers and sometimes quite unfit for any spiritual role. This situation led to the decision that only those chaplains would be accepted who got the recommendation of the highest authority of their denomination.

In the years just before the Civil War, records of the War Department indicate that among post chaplains in western forts, chosen by local authorities at the post, were at least three Catholic priests: Father Ignacio Ramirez at Fort Monterey, California, from 1850 to 1852; Father Michael Sheehan at Fort Belknap, Texas, from 1855 to 1859; and Father Peter DeSmet, SJ in Utah, 1858.


It is estimated that at the outbreak of the Civil War there were about three million Catholics in a total population of thirty million. The great immigration of the 1850's had brought many Catholics from Ireland, Germany and the rest of Europe (and gave rise to anti-Catholic movements, such as the Know-Nothing Party). The First Plenary Council of Baltimore of 1852, in its Nineteenth Decree, mentions abuses in the military that forced Catholic soldiers to attend Protestant services. The loyalty of Catholics during the Civil War helped to dissipate a great deal of Nativist prejudice against the Church.

Volunteer units from various states often had a preponderance of Catholics and were accompanied by their local priests. It seems that about forty priests served as chaplains with the Union Army (probably about twenty at any given time). Approximately six hundred chaplains served with the Confederate troops and, of these, twenty eight were known to be Catholic. No doubt other local priests served nearby installations and supplemented the official chaplains. But the scarcity of priests was a great concern. A German Catholic publication in Cincinnati complained that not one-tenthof the Catholics in the Army could receive the sacraments with any regularity. Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul, writing later of his own experiences in the war as chaplain with the 5th Minnesota Infantry, lamented that thousands of Catholics never saw a priest during the war and no one was near them at the moment of death. Not only the small number of priests but the lack of a centralized ecclesiastical structure to provide for Catholic chaplains created grave pastoral problems.

Faculties were given to priests by their own bishop for their own diocese and further faculties had to be requested in each diocese through which the army traveled. So, for example, Archbishop Kenrick of Baltimore delegated Archbishop Hughes of New York to subdelegate faculties to the chaplain of the N.Y. Irish Brigade. And Navychaplains would need new faculties from port to port. A rescript from Pius IX for both Union and Confederate chaplains extended chaplains' faculties beyond their diocese, at least temporarily, and granted a variety of practical concessions that civilian priests did not enjoy. But the Holy See did not intend a canonically independent and permanent chaplain corps; it merely provided overlapping jurisdiction for the duration of the war.

Although there was a lack of enough priests, those who did serve as chaplains, by their tireless zeal and professionalism, had a tremendous impact, not only on the Catholic troops, but also on the Protestant military leaders and the generalpublic as they witnessed the priests in action. A distinguished Protestant general was quoted in the Atlantic Monthly of 1868 as stating that, as a class, the chaplains of real utility were almost exclusively the Roman Catholic chaplains. Father Peter Cooney, a Holy Cross priest with the Indiana Volunteers, not only was a hero to his men but also won two generals to the Catholic Faith. On the Confederate side, Father Abram Ryan, a noted priest-poet, was held in such esteem that the citizens of Mobile erected a statue of him after his death. Father John Bannon, an Irishman with the Missouri Militia, was so impressive a figure that the Confederacy sent him on speaking missions to Europe. What little evidence we find of ecumenism and an end to bigotry appears most of all among the chaplains and the troops.


During the Indian Wars, eight priests served as post chaplains in the greatly reduced Army. They had the faculties of the local diocese since there was no other source of jurisdiction.

It was not until 1888 that the first Catholic priest was commissioned as a chaplain in the Navy. He was Father Charles Henry Parks of New York, who served from April 15, 1888 to January 25, 1900. Before the end of the century, three more priests were commissioned in the Navy: Father William Reaney of Baltimore in 1892; Father John Chidwick of New York in 1895; and Father Louis Reynolds of Baltimore in 1900. Father Reaney had the distinction of being born on the frigate Constitution and had the middle name "Ironsides." Father Chidwick was the chaplain of the Maine and received a commendation for his efforts on behalf of his men when the ship was sunk in Havana Harbor.

The Spanish American War saw thousands of Catholics join the service. There were twelve priests who held commissions in the Army or Navy. Of the state regiments called up, nine had a Catholic chaplain.

A letter of the Apostolic See dated July 4, 1888 was a sort of first step towards a military vicariate for the United States. It granted exclusive competency to the Archbishop of New York to decide who could serve as a Navy chaplain. It further gave the Archbishop of New York special faculties which he could delegate to the new chaplains. But the faculties were to be exercised with the approval of the local diocese where the priest functioned.

After the war, in 1890, a commission of the U.S. archbishops under Cardinal Gibbons was set up to recruit priests for the military chaplaincy. This group in 1905 appointed the Paulist, Father Alexander Doyle, to act as their representative with the federal government in matters concerning Catholic chaplains. After his death in 1912, another Paulist, Father Louis O'Hern, was appointed to continue this liaison work.


At the outbreak of the war, there were sixteen priests in the Regular Army and eight in the Navy (the number allowed by the War Department) and a further ten in the National Guard. The need for more chaplains was urgent, so the bishops of the nation, who had just formed a National Catholic War Council, called on all dioceses and religious communities to meet the crisis. They responded generously, so that by Armistice Day, a total of 1,026 priests (762 diocesan and 264 religious) were serving with the armed forces in some capacity, with 740 of them commissioned in the Army and 44 in the Navy. 165 priests served without commission as civilians paid by funds from the Knights of Columbus and were solely under the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical authority. About thirty percent of the chaplains of World War I were Catholic priests. Seventeen priests died in service during the war.

The National Catholic War Council that the bishops had formed for the war emergency continued on at the war's end, now called the National Catholic Welfare Conference. It has evolved into the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of our day, the episcopal conference for the United States.

The far-flung battlefields of this great war made the old canonical regulations for priestly ministry totally inadequate to the situation. Various faculties were granted by separate Roman Congregations, sometimes directly to chaplains without going through an episcopal ordinary. In the United States, as in other countries, the military constituted a vast diocese, in number of priests, laity and territory, with no regularly constituted head. Chaplains had to turn some place for instructions and resources, perhaps to their own diocese, so far from their labors, or to a local diocese that knew nothing about them. Some drastic steps were necessary to get proper order into the pastoral ministry to military personnel. The Holy See, therefore, set out to appoint a bishop from each country to be the Ordinarius Castrensis, or Bishop for the Military. For the United States, the Pope on November 24, 1917 appointed Bishop Patrick Hayes, Auxiliary of New York, to be "Ordinary of all Catholics who fight in the army and the navy during the present war. ..." While being a chaplain did not involve incardination, all clerics in the service now had Bishop Hayes as their proper Ordinary for the duration of their military career. The United States government readily recognized Bishop Hayes as the definitive authority needed to endorse any priest for military service.

Bishop Hayes organized the military diocese with headquarters in New York and five regional vicariates. The diocese would come to be known as the Military Vicariate and its offices as the Military Ordinariate. Special faculties for general absolution and the Eucharist and Marriage were among many privileges granted only to military chaplains through the Military Ordinariate.


After the war, Bishop Hayes became the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. The regional vicariates became inactive and Monsignor George Waring carried on the work of the Military Vicariate as its Vicar General and Chancellor in New York. The number of men in service decreased from over two million to a quarter million (with 50,000 Catholics). The number of Catholic chaplains in 1925 was twenty-two in the Army, fifteen in the Navy, forty-one in veterans' hospitals, and twenty-four auxiliary chaplains.

A new war was threatening when Cardinal Hayes died in September of 1938. On November 25, 1939, Pope Pius X I I designated Archbishop Francis Spellman, the new Ordinary of New York, to be his military vicar for the United States. It was further determined that since the Military Vicar also had the important See of New York, there should be a full-time episcopal administrator for chaplain affairs. And so, Father John O'Hara, president of the University of Notre Dame, was named bishop on December 11, 1939 and appointed Military Delegate, a new canonical concept. He would later become the Bishop of Buffalo and then Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia.


Everyone could see the war coming. The first American peace-time conscription in 1940 brought millions into the service. Archbishop Spellman and Bishop O'Hara appealed to the hierarchy and the American clergy, with dramatic success. On December 8, 1941, Archbishop Spellman could say that we had five hundred chaplains on duty (out of 1670 total chaplains). From Pearl Harbor to the surrender of Japan, 2453 priests served as Army chaplains and 817 as Navy chaplains. This was nine percent of the nation's Catholic clergy serving as commissioned chaplains. Seventy six priests died in service. The figures do not include almost two thousand civilian auxiliary chaplains who also came under the jurisdiction of the Military Ordinariate. Because the troops and chaplains were scattered around the world, Vicars Delegate were appointed with the powers of a Vicar General for a particular region of the globe. A wide range of special faculties was obtained by the Military Ordinariate for its priests, regarding liturgy, dispensations, fasting, etc. — changes that would eventually be put into practice for the whole Church, after their usefulness had been proven in the military.

For the first time in our history, chaplains in rather large numbers became Prisoners of War and under the worst of conditions gave invaluable service to their fellow prisoners.


The world would never be the same after the war. The United States was destined to live in a state of armed defense as the new, cold war necessitated an American presence in outposts far from home. On June 13, 1946, the Holy See extended the Vicariate‘s jurisdiction to civilians serving the U.S. Government overseas (this jurisdiction was further extended on November 4, 1954). Also in June of 1946, the Veterans Administration program was placed under the canoncial jurisdiction of the Military Vicariate. Then the National Security Act of 1947 established the Air Force as a separate branch of the service, which would have its own chaplain department. In 1948, Congress recognized the Civil Air Patrol as an official auxiliary unit of the Air Force.


The struggle in Korea, from June 1950 to the truce of July 1953, was a United Nations police action in which units of various nations were under one integrated command. This unique situation led to an unparalleled canonical decision. In a letter of the Holy Father dated September 27, 1950, Catholic chaplains in Korea, of whatever country, were all given the same faculties and placed under the American Military Vicar. During the war, there were 932 priests commissioned as American chaplains, assisted by 427 auxiliary chaplains. Six priests died in action.


The Sixties and Seventies were years of ferment, confusion and division, within the nation, within the Church, in society at large. More than any other event, the Vietnam War symbolized the turmoil of the times, and the priest chaplain of that day had a heavier than usual burden, since he stood precisely where all the storms seemed to gather. In 1970, at the peak of the Vietnam era, there were 435 priests in the A r m y (68 regular, 367 active reserve), 298 in the Navy (122 regular and 176 active reserve), 385 Air Force chaplains (114 regular, 271 active reserve). Seven of these priests died with their men in the war. There were a further 615 reserve chaplains and 288 priests working in the Veterans Administration. These priests were serving an estimated two million service people and their dependents scattered in the most unlikely corners of the world.


In view of the fast changing political realities of the Twentieth Century, the Church acknowledged the need of dealing with military chaplaincies on a permanent basis. On April 25, 1951, an Instruction, Sollemne Semper, proposed norms for canonically establishing permanent vicariates for the apostolate to military personnel. The Military Ordinariate in the United States had been functioning for some years now in New York, but usually under ad hoc and war time faculties. Other countries operated in much the same way. Sollemne Semper brought together the ecclesiastical and canonical concepts that should govern the unique pastoral ministry for military personnel. It was made specific for the United States in a subsequent decree, Mysticam Petri Naviculam, of September 8, 1957. The Decree formally erected the Military Vicariate and spelled out who constituted the Vicariate and how it should operate. The Ordinariate was placed under the Archbishop of New York, with the New York Tribunal hearing the cases of its subjects. It operated as a separate office in the New York Chancery, with its own staff and auxiliary bishops.

On December 15, 1975, Archbishop Joseph Ryan was installed as Coadjutor to the Military Vicar. He would do the day-to-day administrative work of the Ordinariate for Terrence Cardinal Cooke. One rapid development he attended to was the creation of a Tribunal department that would be devoted totally to military people. When Cardinal Cooke died on October 6, 1983, a further step was taken. It was determined that the Vicariate should have its own independent status, not as an added role for the Archbishop of New York, but with its own fulltime Ordinary, to function as any other diocese. Therefore, after a brief interregnum under Archbishop O'Connor of New York as Apostolic Administrator, Archbishop Ryan was named as Ordinary of this separate archdiocese and directed to move its offices to the nation's capital. In two ceremonies, in New York on March 25, 1985 and then in Washington at the National Shrine on April 30, 1985, the separation from the Archdiocese of New York took place and Archbishop Ryan was installed as Ordinary by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Pio Laghi.

Just as these developments were taking place in our country, the Holy See restructured all Military Vicariates around the world. A new Constitution, Spirituali Militum Curae, was issued, to govern all Catholic chaplaincies. It gave them new canonical status as a special form of diocese and created a new office in Rome to deal with all Military Ordinariates. This Constitution was issued on April 21, 1986 and went into effect on July 21, 1986. In the past, the diocese for the military had been called either a Vicariate or Ordinariate, but henceforth each country would adopt a title that seemed best suited to the understanding of its own people, (the canonical designation being Ordinariatus Castrensis). The diocese for the military in each country also was to draw up its own statutes outlining in detail how the general Constitution would be implemented. Our approved title is The Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A. Our statutes were approved on 18 August 1987.

Stories about the great individuals who at one time served as Catholic chaplains will have to be recounted elsewhere. But there is a rich history there. Our people should know of the heroic exploits of priests like Father (later Archbishop) John Ireland of the Civil War; like Father DeSmet, apostle to the Indians; like Father Duffy of World War I fame; like Father Joseph O'Callahan, first chaplain to win the Congressional Medal of Honor; like Father Emil Kapaun, prisoner in the Korean War; like the Maryknoller, Vincent Capodanno, who died in Vietnam with his men of the lst Marine Division. These and many others have left a glorious heritage to all who serve their Church and their country as chaplains.


The Office of Chief of Chaplains is a rather modern development, as is the Military Ordinariate. Therefore, records concerning chaplains, especially prior to 1917, are sketchy and often enough contradictory. Many priests were chaplains to our people in service, but without official standing, so that their contributions are never officially noted anywhere. We list the names which we have found in various sources, although we cannot vouch for their completeness or correctness.

Not all the priests listed here were killed in action, but they died while serving in wartime. The influenza epidemic which raged through military camps in World War I took many of the troops and several of the priests stationed with them.

For all these priests, for all the priests of earlier times unlisted here, as well as for all those who have served before us and have gone to their reward, we pray, commending them to the Lord.




Auxiliary Bishops

Vicar General

Judicial Vicar

Episcopal Vicars



Administration: office operations and personnel, public affairs, corporations, Vatican reports, consultors, archives, library, newsletter

Chaplains concerns: endorsements, endorsing agents, recruiting, co-sponsorship, vocations, chaplain candidates, chancery, presbyteral council, development

Pastoral support: marriage dispensations, confirmation schedules and dispensations, eucharistic ministers, permanent deacons, chapel programs, cursillo, religious education, canonical and liturgical matters, Pro-Life and Natural Family Planning, Military Council of Catholic Women

Veterans concerns: endorsements, endorsing agents, V.A. visits and reports, files and records, Catholic War Veterans

Tribunal: marriage cases and annulments, reports

Sacramental records: registration of all sacramental administrations, processing of sacramental certificates, sacramental records archives

Finance and management: fiscal affairs, budgets, accounting functions, auditing process, income and payments, financial reports, personnel management, logistical functions, computer network management, insurance and property management, address lists

Development: fund raising campaigns, contribution acknowledgements, data management for development, and Archdiocesan contacts with contributors


The Military Archbishop is assisted, in accordance with canon law, by a Presbyteral Council, a Board of Consultors, and a Financial Committee.


By governmental regulation and in accordance with canonical laws of jurisdiction, no priest can function as a chaplain without the endorsement of the Archdiocese for the Military Services and the permission of his Ordinary. Even if such endorsement has been received, upon any change of status, such as from the inactive duty reserves to active duty, from active duty to the inactive reserves, or from one branch of service to another, a new endorsement is required. The Archdiocese has the duty to inform itself about each priest so that, when an endorsement is requested, it can be morally certain that the appplicant meets all the requirements insisted upon by the Church and the military.


Active Duty Chaplains: Priests who, with the permission of their Ordinaries and the endorsement of the Archdiocese, are full time active duty military chaplains. They enjoy all the faculties of the Archdiocese for the period of their service.

Contract or Auxiliary Chaplains: Priests who, with the permission of their Ordinaries and the endorsement of the Archdiocese, contract to serve at a particular installation where there is need. Endorsement is for the individual installation only. The competent senior chaplain at the installation certifies the need and arranges funding for the contract priest. The latter enjoys all the faculties of the Archdiocese for the period of this service, unless otherwise specified.

Reserve Chaplains: Priests who serve in the Reserve branch of one of the military services and who have received the permission of their Ordinaries and the endorsement of the Archdiocese for extended active duty enjoy all the faculties of the Archdiocese during this period. Military chaplains in the Reserve, and who are not on active duty but have the required permission and endorsement, are bound to one weekend a month training session and two weeks per year extended training session. Those chaplains enjoy the faculties of the Archdiocese, except for marriage, only during th ese sessions.

Department of Veterans Affairs Chaplains: Civilian priests who enter the V.A. chaplaincy need the permission of their Ordinaries and the endorsement of the Archdiocese. These chaplains enjoy all the faculties of the Archdiocese during their period of service as chaplains in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

National Guard Chaplains: Priests who have joined the National Guard (which is under the authority of the particular State), and who have received the permission of their Ordinaries and the endorsement of the Archdiocese, enjoy the faculties of the Archdioceses, except for marriage, only during required training periods.

Civil Air Patrol Chaplains: Civilian priests who enter the Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer service and auxiliary branch of the U.S. Air Force, and whohave received the permission of their Ordinaries and the endorsement of the Archdiocese, enjoy the faculties of the Archdiocese, except for marriage, when they are actually in training programs on military installations or are functioning in group activities under the supervision of the Air Force.

Chaplain Candidate Prgram: Seminarians, who have the approval of their Ordinaries and the Archdiocese, gain field experience in the pastoral needs of the uniformed military during a summer program in which they work closely with the chaplain. The candidate is commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant or Ensign and supported by the military during the summer program.


The Archdiocese receives no financial support whatsoever from any government agency. Support comes from the following sources:

Archdiocesan Support Fund, the offerings received four times a year from the generosity of the faithful of the Archdiocese.

Appeal to Priests, the generous contributions from active and retired chaplains twice a year.

Combined Federal Campaign, the designation of the Archdiocese for the Miltary Services (our number is 0405) as the recipient of payroll deductions of members of the military and federal government employees.

Fees, which are connected with marriage cases, dispensations and sacramental records.


Agreements have been entered into with several diocesan bishops whereby men who give evidence of a vocation to the priestly ministry in the military Chaplaincy will be co-sponsored through their seminary training by the Military Archdiocese and the civilian diocese. Upon incardination and ordination by the diocesan bishop, and after three years of pastoral ministry in that diocese, the candidate is guaranteed the option to serve on active duty in one of the military services for a full career.


The bishops who have retired from service in the Archdiocese have earned the gratitude and deep appreciation of all. They continue to serve as a source of wisdom and fraternity.


Military Council of Catholic Women, A spiritual powerhouse and invaluable social force on installations throughout the Archdiocese, both in the United States and abroad, forming bonds of community among Catholics away from their homes.

Cursillo Movement offers those wishing to grow in the spiritual life the support of peers, focusing on how to live out the faith daily in one's profession and personal life. Permission of the Archbishop is needed to start a local Cursillo group.

Charismatic Prayer Group, for those who feel drawn to this area of prayer and spirituality. It should be under the direction of the localchaplain.

Pastoral Council, which may be found useful or necessary by the chaplain, according to the size of the installation and the complexity of the Catholic community there. It is a consultative group subject to the chaplain in accordance with canon law. An experienced chaplain will make this decision and adaptation, as well as utilize other parochial societies geared to the common good.


Msgr. Charles J. McDonnell, Deputy Chief of Chaplains, Army

Msgr. John R. McNamara, Chief of Chaplains, Navy

Rev. John P. McDonough, Deputy Chief of Chaplains, Air Force

Rev. Wallace Przybylski, OFM, Deputy Chief of Chaplains, V.A.


Rev. John Collins, CSSR, Moderator of the Curia

Rev. Richard Saudis, Chancellor

Msgr. Joseph Ariano, Vice-Chancellor

Msgr. John J. Cunniffe, Vice-Chancellor


Rev. Nicholas Halligan, O.P., Judicial Vicar

Rev. Thomas Doyle, O.P., Tribunal

Msgr. John Glynn, Office for Military Ordinariates, Congregation for Bishops, Rome


The role of the ministerial priesthood is pre-eminently a sacramental role. The priest has the duty to know Catholic theology and to conduct the Liturgy not only correctly but effectively. Periodically, the priest should re-read the front pages of the Sacramentary — in order to refresh his mind as to the spirit and logic of the Liturgy and also to avoid any idiosyncrasies that could hinder good liturgy and confuse the faithful.

This section is not intended to be a summary of all sacramental theology. We presume that our chaplains were well-trained in their diocese or religious community and that they keep abreast of current theology. We mention only those points that may have special relevance to chaplains.


a) The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, with a period of catechumenate, is now the procedure to be followed for reception of adults into the Church. Since the mobility of our people is a complicating factor, the chaplain will have to use good pastoral judgment in applying the new Rite to the circumstances of his installation and the needs of the individual entering the Church. If not all, then some of the steps of the new Rite can be very effectively carried out. Baptism should be administered in a sacred place, i.e., a place permanently set aside for worship.

b) The ordinary non-Catholic entering the Church does not need absolution f o r excommunication or heresy. But if a candidate is someone who previously renounced Catholicism, the chaplain is empowered to absolve from excommunication in the external forum.

c) Only if there is "prudent doubt" (Canon 845) about a previous baptism should conditional baptism be administered. Otherwise, a Profession of Faith suffices for a baptized person to enter into full c o m munion.

d) Since the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese for the Military Services is personal and territorial, subjects can be baptized on the military installation or elsewhere. However, proper procedure dictates that "outside the case of necessity, it is not lawful for anyone, without the required permission, to confer baptism in the territory of another, not even upon his own subjects" (Canon 862). The reasoning behind this canon is the significance of entering into the local family of believers and the practical need for accurate records.

e) Sponsors - Godparents should be mature (the Code says 16 years old) and Catholics in good standing. Orthodox Christians can be one of the godparents together with a Catholic. Protestants can be a witness together with one Catholic sponsor. The record should indicate such an exception. Catholics in turn can be sponsor for an Orthodox or a Christian witness for a Protestant Baptism. The chaplain should provide adequate spiritual preparation for sponsors and parents both.

f) Proxy Godparent - Military people, away from home, may be more likely than civilians to use a proxy for a godparent who cannot be present. The godparent must acknowledge acceptance of that responsibility. Parents may act as proxies (but not as actual sponsors). In unusual circumstances, a non-Catholic may be a proxy.

g) Recording of Baptism - Shortly after the Baptism, the chaplain should send a record to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, giving complete information. If a convert was received by a Profession of Faith, the same completed record should be sent in. If it was an emergency baptism, a report should be send immediately, whether the person died or was baptized by a lay person. When the subsequent Rite of Bringing a Baptized Child to Church or "supplying the ceremonies" takes place, full information should be sent in with an indication where the actual Baptism took place.


a) Minister - The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the bishop. In danger of death, when a bishop is not easily available, any priest may confirm. In other special circumstances, the bishop may delegate priests to confirm.

b) Converts - When adults are brought into the Church, the priest receiving them may administer Confirmation as part of the Rite. (This does not refer to baptized Catholics who have never practised the Faith and are now coming into full active communion. Special delegation is needed from the Bishop for validity in such a case).

c) Age - Because of the mobility of our military population, the same practice in regard to age and preparation should prevail at all installations. Those to be confirmed should be at least in the 8th grade of school.

d) Preparation - Whether for adults or young people, a suitable time for prayer and instruction is needed. At least three months of preparation is required. Special instruction for parents and sponsors should be included.

e) Sponsors - should be practicing Catholics already confirmed. The baptismal godparents are appropriate sponsors but others may be chosen. Under the new Code of Canon Law, parents are not to act as sponsors.

f) Records - The appropriate information concerning the persons confirmed, the place, the date, minister and sponsor should be sent promptly to the Archdiocese. Notification should also be sent to each church of baptism.


a) In the new Code, Canon 967 states that if a priest has faculties from his own diocese, he may hear anyone's confession anywhere.

b) Chaplains may absolve in the internal or external forum from all non-reserved censures or those reserved to the Ordinary, including abortion. A suitable penance should always be imposed.

c) Canon 961 indicates that outside of combat and similar situations, General Absolution is to be given only in serious necessity after consultationwith the Chancery (if possible) when there are large numbers of penitents who will otherwise be unable to receive Communion for a long time.

If the chaplain does grant General Absolution, he should inform the Archdiocese as soon as possible. And he should remind the penitents to be sorry for their sins, to make amends and to confess individually within the year before receiving General Absolution again. In keeping with these conditions, it is not allowed to schedule in advance or to announce publicly that General Absolution will be given.

d) Penance Services - either with individual confessions or in preparation for later confession, are a separate matter from General Absolution. Well-prepared penance services are fine parochial celebrations that point up the social dimension of sin and reconciliation; they are, moreover, excellent ways to highlight the penitential seasons.

e) First Confession - The mandatory practice of the Latin Church is to have first Confession precede first Communion. There should be a suitable interval between the two ceremonies to indicate their separate character. People have the option of face-to-face or secret confession; their preference and not that of the priest is to be honored.


a) Lay Eucharistic Ministers are a recent liturgical development that has proved of great value. To stress the importance of this role and to insure its sacred character, lay ministers are to be appointed by the Archbishop after suitable preparation and prayer. At least three sessions of theology, prayer and practicum should be given to all candidates. The candidates should be people of good standing in the Catholic community, mandated for a period of three years for a specific installation, and installed by the chaplain in a public ceremony.

We must remember that the ordinary minister for Holy Communion is the bishop, priest or deacon. The concept of lay eucharistic ministers was not intended as an honoring of worthy parishioners but as a way to meet a liturgical need, when priests were lacking and the Mass became unduly extended. The number of lay ministers should be in accord with the need of the parish community. The auxiliary nature of the lay ministers should be noted, so that at large celebrations when sufficient priests and deacons are present, the special ministers assist only as needed. The prudent pastor will have foreseen such a likelihood in assigning the number of auxiliary ministers at more solemn liturgies when the unity of the presbyterate is highlighted.

b) Other Ministries ‐ The liturgy calls for a distribution of roles. The celebrant does not do or say everything the congregation does or vice versa. Readers, leaders of song, ushers, altar boys, choir, all bring their special contribution to the community's worship. Each should be properly prepared and perform their roles conscientiously.

Somehow the minor role of altar boy has become involved with issues of feminism, at least in the United States. With all respect for the sensitivity of all our people, in accordance with the direction of the Holy See altar girls are not allowed in this Archdiocese. Disregard of a clear directive is inappropriate in the military and in the clergy.

c) The Eucharistic Fast is a symbol of reverence and of spiritual preparation. The total fast from midnight has been reduced to one hour abstention from food and drink. The sick, the aged (and those caring for them, when Communion is brought to the sick), are excused from any fast. The priest is bound to the fast only before his first Mass if he is binating.

d) Chaplains should be careful not to multiply the number of Mases without necessity. A sufficient number of the faithful on active duty (and their families) should justify added Masses. Priests are allowed, if pastoral needs indicate, to celebrate two Masses on weekdays and three on Sundays and days precept. (canon 905).

e) Communion Twice a Day ‐ To promote active participation while avoiding excesses or misguided devotion, the new Code permits a person to receive Communion a second time on the same day, but only at a Mass in which the person participates.

f) Annual Precep - The obligation of “Easter Duty” is retained in the new Code, but now, for just cause, it can be fulfilled at some other time of the year.

f) Holy Day ‐ The usual Holy Days are to be observed in the Archdiocese for the Military Services, in accordance with the general practice in the United States, the pertinent norms and directives of the Bishops and the Holy See.

At the same time, it is clear that some of our installations have greater difficulty than civilian parishes in observing a Holy Day. If so, the chaplain should be sure to inform his people that according to good moral theology a serious inconvenience or difficulty excuses them from the obligation and furthermore, they can judge generously in their own favor on the extent of the difficulty. In addition, if the territorial bishop dispenses the entire diocese from observing a particular Holy Day, then the military people are not held to the obligation by virtue of being within the limits of that diocese. However, the Archdiocese for the Military Services does not give a general dispensation from observing specific Holy Days, since it would then be going against the vote of the American Hierarchy at large. And on bases where it is not possible for the general personnel to attend, at least a Mass or Masses should be provided by the chaplain, lest there be no observance whatever of a major feast of the Church year.

g) Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament ‐ The Blessed Sacrament may be reserved in an appropriate place on military bases or ships or hospitals. The area should reflect our belief in the Real Presence and not serve as a storeroom, meeting place or some other "practical" or expedient place. The tabernacle should be secured firmly, the key safeguarded. The tabernacle is not shared with other faith groups. An electric sanctuary lamp may be used where an oil or wax candle cannot be used.

h) Homily - The proclamation of the Gospel and the preaching of the homily are the role of the priest or deacon. Any other kind of address to the community in the context of the Liturgy should be done at the beginning or the conclusion of the Mass, but not at the Gospel and homily time.

i) Unleavened Bread is required by Canon 926 for the Eucharist in the Latin Rite. The bread must be made of wheat alone (Canon 924). Some well-meaning projects whereby parishioners bake hosts for the parish have not kept this requirement in mind and this has sometimes led to the elements being of illicit or invalid matter.

j) No person, whether priest or bishop, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgical books on his own authority (Canon 846). Legitimate alternative texts and places for discretionary comments of the celebrant are clearly indicated in the Sacramentary.

k) The principal or sole celebrant always wears a chasuble. Other concelebrants wear at least an alb and stole. Concelebrants have to be present from the beginning of Mass. Our military people are more likely than others to be conscious of the sign value of proper garb and more sensitive to breaches of correct ritual.

l) The Tridentine Mass - A letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship dated 3 October, 1984 authorizes the bishop to permit the Tridentine Mass under certain conditions when he is petitioned to do so. Such a Mass should not take the place of any normal Liturgy that is regularly scheduled but it should be offered at intervals determined by the bishop for a specific group of people. Such groups should not be composed of those who impugn the validity or correctness of the revised Liturgy. The Mass must be in Latin, with no interchange of texts or rites from the new Missal. Full details about the circumstances should be sent to the Archbishop, who will then determine to what extent such a request can be accommodated. Such a Mass at any installation should not be in opposition to the policies of the local diocese, lest the Sacrament of Unity be a cause of division.


a) Jurisdiction ‐ An extensive treatment about marriage jurisdiction isgiven in Chapter IV, pages 79to 90.

Commissioned chaplains and VA chaplains with the faculties of the Archdiocese for the Military Services may witness the marriage of subjects of the Archdiocese of whatever installation or branch of service. It must be kept in mind that non-Catholic military personnel are not our subjects.

CAP chaplains and priests employed part-time by the chaplain, however, do not have general delegation for marriages and need to be delegated just as a civilian priest coming to a military base to witness a marriage.

b) The chaplain must conform to the civil laws concerning marriage, which vary greatly. He will, therefore, have to learn the State and local regulations at each assignment concerning legal qualification of the minister, licenses, registrations, etc.

c) Upon assignment, the chaplain should apply to the territorial diocese, to be granted the faculties of that diocese, especially for marriage purposes.

d) Marriage Preparation ‐ Adequate spiritual preparation before a wedding is a serious obligation, for the priest and for the couple. In so far as possible, local diocesan practices should be followed in regard to time of preparation, Pre-Cana, etc.

In the Archdiocese for the Military Services, the couple should consult the priest at least two months before the wedding, in order to prepare properly. Pro-marital instructions, affidavits and questionnaires, necessary dispensations should all be done early, particularly since our people are often far distant from their families.

e) If there has been a previous invalid marriage, of either the bride or groom, this will involve the Tribunal — it is not merely a matter for dispensation. Therefore, no date should be set for a subsequent marriage until the Tribunal case for the previous marriage is completed. The RCIA program should not admit persons whose marital status has not been cannonically adjudicated, e.g., in cases of previous marriage(s).

f) Dispensations are granted by the Chancery of the Archdiocese for the Military Services (or the Episcopal Vicar, when necessary) and are not to be presumed or granted by the chaplain himself. Canon Law calls for the decision of the bishop and for “just and reasonable cause.”

g) Sanations - If a marriage seems to be invalid due to lack of dispensation, lack of jurisdiction, or some other defect, it may be able to be rectified upon application to the Chancery. Detailed information should be sent to the Chancery with the judgment of the priest that the matrimonial consent still endures and with reasons given why a simple convalidation cannot be done.

h) Records - When the marriage record is sent to our Chancery, the pre-nuptial papers should be included. We receive many requests for these from Tribunals in later marriage cases.

When a civilian or contract priest officiates at a chapel wedding, the chaplain should make sure the records are sent to us. When sending records for another priest, do not sign your name as Officiant but do include your name as the source of information.


a) In danger of death or some other serious necessity, the Catholic chaplain can anoint baptized non-Catholics who request it, if they express a belief in the sacraments and do not have a chaplain of their own available (Canon 844). However, the chaplain has to have due regard for the discipline of the other church, lest the recipient violate the norms of his own communion.

b) The Sacred Oils are blessed in the Chrism Mass held each year by the Archbishop for the Military Services. They may also be obtained at the territorial diocese. Old oils should not be used except for some special necessity. The oils are to be kept "in a fitting manner."

c) The National Council of Catholic Bishops has issued a caution concerning anointings by lay people in certain prayer groups, which should be clearly distinguished from the sacramental anointing administered by the priest.

d) At installations that have no Catholic hospital chaplain, the resident chaplain has a serious duty to attend to the spiritual needs of the sick asa top priority.


a) Cremation is not forbidden, unless the reasons manifested are contrary to Christian belief. However, the preferred option remains the burial of the body with a reverence that recalls the sacramental anointings. Cremation ashes are not to be brought into the church.

b) The Order of Christian Funerals, as the approved text for the United States, is to be used.

c) The usual liturgical procedure around the nation is to cover the casket with a white pall for the funeral Mass and to remove it at the church door. At that time, the casket can be covered with the flag to the time of interment. However, chapels on military installations and at military cemeteries are not Catholic churches but ecumenical settings maintained by the Federal Government. Use of flag and uniform is not inappropriate.


a) Deacons in the Military ‐ Permanent deacons are an effective ministry in today's Church. The diaconate has bound men closer to their Church and has had special impact in some racial or ethnic communities. According to their talents and the needs of their particular parish, they assist liturgically or with marriage preparation or with the administration of the parish or in some social apostolate.

To function within the structure of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, the permanent deacon needs the specific approval of the Archbishop. The deacon works under the direction of the Catholic chaplain and is designated for a specific installation. If reassigned, he is to reapply to the Archbishop for faculties to function in the parish of his new assignment.

Candidates for the diaconate are required to complete a formation program (Canon 1032). Because of territorial considerations, candidates receive that training in the local diocese within which they reside, rather than from the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

Considerable thought and prayer has been expended on how precisely to integrate the Permanent Diaconate with the Chaplaincy structure and with the unique conditions of military life. The different branches of service have seen the role of the deacon differently. And so despite years of discussion, no clear-cut program has emerged that can be adopted throughout the Archdiocese.

Some few facts have to be noticed. First, the special nature of the permanent diaconate is to be taken into account. It is not just a stop-gap measure to compensate for the shortage of priests nor is it a first step to a married clergy. It is a separate ministry.

Secondly, if the deacon is to be part of the chaplaincy structure, then the type of volunteer part-time deacon we find in civilian dioceses and the type of training he receives will not be adequate. A deacon serving in his ministry as a full-time, salaried professional, is an entirely different concept, and one that affects not only the Catholic program but the entire chaplaincy aswell.

The priest chaplain has a important responsibility in regard to any permanent deacons at his assignment — as well as to any Eucharistic Ministers, Coordinators of Religious Education, etc. These co-workers in the ministry need his spiritual leadership while he needs their zeal and special talents. He has to be father, brother and friend if an effective apostolic team is to be formed.

b) Incardination of Priests - As our new Constitution indicates, the Archdiocese for the Military Services is empowered to have its own seminary, to ordain and incardinate priests. However, although ministry to the people of the military is a special calling, requiring special personal gifts, the Archdiocese is not, for the foreseeable future, in the position to embrace the seminary and/or incardination options. Cf. page 36 for our Co-sponsorship Program.

Instead of incardinating priests permanently into the Archdiocese for the Military Services, a plan of collaboration has been worked out whereby interested candidates could opt for a career in the chaplaincy, while a co-sponsoring diocese would be assured of the priest's first three years and then his mature years, after his military service. Part of this co-sponsorship involves and extensive vocation campaign among the young people in all the branches of the service.




To baptize those who are fourteen years of age or older (c. 863). such a candidate may choose the rite in which to be baptized (c. 111, 2).

Baptism must be administered in a sacred place, i.e., a place permanently set aside for worship (c. 857).

Baptism of one's subjects in a civilian church requires permission of the local pastor (c. 862). Likewise, to baptize a non-subject on a military installation the chaplain should have the permission of the person's proper pastor.

The canonical regulations regarding sponsors (cc. 872‐874), proof and registraton of Baptism are to be carefully observed.


To confirm, at the time of Baptism,one who is seven yearsof age or older, and also one who is already baptized and is being admitted into full communion of the Catholic chaurch (c. 883, 2).

Special permission from the Military Ordinary is required in order to confirm validly one who was previously baptized in the Catholic Church but never catechized (c. 884, 1). In respect to those in danger of death, any priest may confirm (c. 883, 3).


To celebrate Mass twice on weekdays for a good reason and three times on Sundays and holydays, if a pastoral need requires (c. 905, 2).

To assign extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, who have been duly mandated by the Military Ordinary, to assist in the administration of the sacrament when the number of ordained ministers is insufficient to avoid an unreasonable delay (c. 910, 2).


To hear confessons of members of the Archdiocese (c. 969, 1); to hear confessions of the Christiam faithful anywhere in the world, provided the local Ordinary has not refused in a particular case to allow a priest to hear confessions in his jurisdiction (c. 967, 2).

To remit in the internal forum any automatic censure of excommunication or interdict that is not reserved to the Apostolic See and has not been juridically declared (c.1355, 2). This includes the censure attached to the procurement of abortion (c. 1364, 1). A salutary penance should be imposed.

To remit in the internal sacramental forum any automatic censure of excommunication or interdict which has not been juridically declared, if it would be difficult for the penitent to remain in a state of serious sin during the time necessary for the competent authority to provide for the matter (c. 1357). Recourse should be made within a month, an appropriate penance imposed, and scandal or damage repaired, where necessary.

To hear confession of anyone in danger of death and to absolve from all sins and censures, even if an approved priest is present (c. 976).

To subdelegate to any priest in good standing the faculty to hear one's own confession (c. 966).


To carry the oil of the sick in order to anoint in case of necessity (c. 1003, 3).

To bless oil (olive oil or any natural vegetable oil) in case of necessity, but only in the actual celebration of the sacrament (c. 999, 2).


To assist at all marriages of subjects of this Archdiocese (c. 1108‐1109). This faculty is not enjoyed by Reserve Chaplains, National Guard Chaplains, Civil Air Patrol Chaplains.

For liceity, permission of the local pastor is required when the chaplain marries his own subject in a civilian church (c. 1115). Likewise, when persons who are not subjects of this Archdiocese marry on a military installation, permission of their proper pastor is to be sought.

A chaplain may subdelegate another priest (or deacon) expressly for a marriage of specific persons to be celebrated on the military installation (c. 111, 2). Chaplains and any authorized priest (or deacon) must obtain civil permission from the proper authorities to perform a marriage.

Registration of all marriages (even with dispensation from canonicalform) is made by the chaplain and sent to the Archdiocesan Chancery.


To preach everywhere with at least the presumed consent of the rector of a church, unless restricted by the competent Ordinary (c. 764).


To dispense, in individual cases and for a just reason, from the Sunday or holyday obligation observance, from the observance of fast or abstinence, or to commute the obligation to other pious activities (c. 1245).

To dispense or commute from any private vow or promise one‘s subjects and also in the case of visitors on a military installation, provided this does not harm any acquired rights of others (c. 1245).

To administer the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick, in circumstances strictly in conformity with c. 844, 3-4, (1) to members of non-Catholic Eastern Churches, and (2) other Christians but only with the prior judgment of the Military Ordinary.

Church funeral rites for non-Catholics are regulated by c. 1183, liturgical norms and the prior judgment of the Military Ordinary.


We know the influence of good example or heroism; we know the effectiveness of praise and gratitude on morale. Therefore, we try to express the appreciation of our community for any meritorious service we find in our people. Each parish community has a variety of ways in which to recognize the contributions of individuals — annual dinners, plaques from the parish council, etc. There are archdiocesan awards that can be obtained.

The Medal of the Archdiocese for the Military Services is granted by the Archbishop for the Military Services to those who work in the Religious Program of their parish community without recompense in an exemplary manner over an extended length of time and who show by their moral character, by their fidelity to the Church and by the esteem of their associates special qualities worthy of recognition. No more than a half-dozen of these medals will be granted each year around the world, so the priest who nominates any candidates is holding them up to the entire archdiocese for special attention.

The Certificate of Distinguished Catholic Service is based on the same criteria as the Medal, but will be given in greater numbers, so that it is a more general recognition of meritorious service.

Certificates of Appreciation are further letters of thanks for those who contribute significantly and without recompense to the religious programs of their parish.

c) The procedure to follow for obtaining any specific award: The Catholic chaplain should nominate by letter each individual for a specific award, describing the merits and activities of the candidate. The names of candidates for the Medal of the Archdiocese for the Military Services can be resubmitted if they have previously been named for some other award. Recommendations for the Medal of the Archdiocese for the Military Services will be reviewed by a board of the Vice Chancellors of the Archdiocese, with final judgment reserved to the Archbishop.


Priests who have occasion to be in the Washington, DC, area are welcome to visit our offices in Silver Spring or the staff residence in Washington. Chaplains in the area are on occasion invited asa group to dinner at the bishops' residence. It is not meant as a command performance but as an invitation to mix with fellow priests of all the branches of service. Because of the numbers involved, we need to know in advance if a priest intends to come.

Upon establishing offices in Washington, we initiated an annual Chrism Mass with those chaplains who can attend. At the Mass we have the Renewal of Priestly Commitment and then follow with a dinner for the chaplains in attendance.


The chaplain is obliged to carry out the responsibilities which the Government and the Catholic Church attach to the chaplaincy. Failure to live up to these responsibilities will lead either to action by military authorities or to canonical action by religious superiors or to withdrawal of ecclesiastical endorsement by the Archdiocese for the Military Services. All of this is done in accord with military law or canonical process. While the Archbishop has the grave obligation of safeguarding the spiritual welfare of our people, the chaplain should know that he is also dedicated to assisting any priest in difficulty and will try to provide the pastoral support needed.


Under proper circumstances, for a good reason, Catholics may participate in services of separated churches. And similarly, non-Catholics should be made welcome at our worship. However, sharing in the Eucharist, except as noted below, is sadly excluded by virtue of our tragic differences of faith. Regarding Baptisms involving non- Catholics, refer to the section on Baptism (page 44).

a) ORTHODOX. The Eucharist or Penance or the Anointing of the Sick can be given to Orthodox who have no chaplain of their own available and are unable to receive the sacraments for a long time. However, caution should be used, with consultation of Orthodox authorities at least on the local level, so that the Orthodox do not violate their own church law by such participation.

b) PROTESTANTS. If a Protestant has the proper faith regarding the Eucharist, is baptized, has deep spiritual need, has no minister available for a long time and asks of his own accord, such a person may be admitted to the Eucharist. The judgment of the Archbishop is to be sought in the case. (c. 844, 4)

In these matters, and in all dealing with those of different faiths, a Christian love should be evident. This love should include respect for the other parties' traditions and laws, rather than appear as indifferentism, for that can only confuse and scandalize.


By governmental regulation and in accordance with canonical laws of jurisdiction, no priest can function as a chaplain without the endorsement of the Archdiocese for the Military Services and the permission of his bishop or religious superior. And even if he has once received such an endorsement, upon any change of status, such as from reserve to active or from one branch of service to another, a new endorsement is required. The Archdiocese, for the Military Services has the duty to inform itself about eachpriest so that whenit is asked for an endorsement it can be morally certain that the applicant meets all the requirements which the Church and the military insist upon. If there is substantial failure to live up to the expectations of the Church for its priests, the endorsements will be promptly withdrawn. Official evaluations, chaplain's reports and personal contact, all these help the Archbishop to make a conscientious decision on each individual endorsement.


With the preponderance of young people as our subjects, the chaplains should foster programs to fit their needs, such as Pre-Cana, Marriage Encounter or Pre-Marriage Encounter, Natural Family Planning. The Couple to Couple League is most willing to work with the chaplains on natural family planning and pro-life issues. They have a number of teaching couples active in the military. More information is readily available from our Chancery.


Some questions arise lately about Catholics joining the Masons or of converts retaining their Masonic membership. A study was made in 1985 by the Committee for Pastoral Research and Practices of the NCCB, which concluded that beyond the historical opposition to the Church evidenced by Freemasonry in various countries there are also aspectsof religious ritual and doctrine that are not compatible with Catholic Faith. This is not a purely social and philanthropic organization like the Rotary or Chamber of Commerce. If someone, a convert perhaps, had joined in good faith, he might maintain passive membership, but membership by Catholics is at best inappropriate. This is a delicate pastoral problem as well as a public relations difficulty. The Chancery should be consulted in individual cases.


There are no special rules or dispensations from the rules for Catholics in the military. The universal church law, as applied to the United States by our Episcopal Conference, applies to us in the same manner as to civilians. Thus, Catholics over 14 are bound to abstain on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. Those between 18 and 59 are bound to the fast of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Other works of penance, such asabstinence on all Fridays of the year and almsgiving, are recommended for all Catholics. Pastors should try to develop in their communities a genuine sense of penance.


a) The military expects an officer to move up or move out: if he is not progressing, he is not to remain. That is perhaps a more valid concept for spirituality than for job placement. The priest ought never to be content with where he is spiritually. He has to be updating himself; he has to be always curious about Christ, to know Him better; he has to be growing in faith, developing as a priest and a Christian. Without experiencing the anxiety sometimes caused by the promotion system, the priest should feel the need to grow spiritually. His reading, his style of life, should adapt themselves to this constant desire.

b) PRAYER. We will not presume to exhort our priests to prayer. Their home dioceses or religious orders as well as their own priestly interest have given them the background and motivation for a life of prayer. We would, however, mention a personal devotional practice — which they might promote among their people as well — that of saying the Angelus daily for vocations. Here is a rich meditative expansion of the Hail Mary that can be used at home or in groups, which is both Marian in orientation and focused onvocation, two aspects worth emphasizing.

c) DAYS OF RECOLLECTION AND RETREATS. In accordance with Canon Law and the general policy of all dioceses, priests are reminded of their reponsibility to make a yearly retreat. Many chaplains tie up this exercise with an annual visit to their home diocese or their religious community, thus maintaining a most desirable contact with their brother priests and superiors.

The practice of a monthly Day of Recollection, especially in areas where there is a concentration of chaplains, is a spiritual tonic for the individual priest and a great source of fraternal support. We applaud the chaplains of various areas who take the initiative to gather the brethren for such days or for other gatherings such as a Sunday dinner together. The Chaplaincy as a whole is greatly indebted to such men, who generate an esprit de corps among our priests.

d) RELIGIOUS GATHERINGS FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL. Special events such as the International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes are fine sources of spiritual renewal for our priests and people alike. More localized events, such as the retreats at Berchtesgaden and the Chrism Mass in Washington, are occasions to be drawn together by our Faith. They help prevent a sense of isolation that can deaden our Catholic spirit.


The religious education program is one of the most important activities on any base, and no matter how well organized and staffed, it should be something that the chaplain is intimately involved in. The religious education programs throughout the military should be so coordinated that, aspeople are reassigned,they can easily fit into the programs at their new installation.

The Armed Forces Chaplain Board, using personnel from the Catholic Religious Education groups of each branch of service, produces "The Catholic Curriculum and Resource Guide." This constantly updated manual not only catalogues the most current materials available but also provides a comprehensive guide for catechetical and pastoral planning in the Armed Forces. Chaplains should avail themselves of the great help that they can find from this important document.


a) Each chaplain is to send in to the Chancery regular reports as specified by the form.

A chaplain may not realize the importance of these records, but they are vital for compiling the statistical data required by Rome, vital for getting an accurate picture of the current activities in the Archdiocese, and very vital in tracking down missing or incomplete records for individual military personnel. Failure to supply the necessary information in an efficient manner is regarded as a delinquency of responsibility.

b) Chaplains, upon assignment to a new installation, should make themselves known as soon as possible to the local diocesan bishop as being present in his diocese. They should request faculties in order to have proper canonical jurisdiction when performing sacramental actions on those who are not their subjects.

c) Upon transfer or termination of service, the chaplain should immediately notify the Archdiocese for the Military Services of his change of status.

d) Thousand of marriages of military subjects take place in civilian parishes, witnessed by civilian priests. Although canonically the information must be recorded at that parish, practically speaking we need a cross-file of such information, because of the many inquiries, often desperate, which we later receive. Such information about your subjects should be forwarded to our Sacramental Records Office, making it clear that it was a wedding of military personnel but not witnessed by you on a military installation.

e) The chaplain is responsible for the accurate compiling and transmittal of sacramental records on his installation. Especially if an auxiliary chaplain or contract or visiting priest performs a ceremony, the chaplain has to make doubly sure all papers are correct, complete and sent to the Archdiocese for the Military Services. While an assistant may type up the forms, they should be reviewed and signed by the chaplain in order to be properly certified.


After World War II when the Veterans Administration was created by act of Congress, it was placed, by Rome, under the canonical responsibility of the Military Ordinariatc This vast operation is an important part of our nation's service to those who in turn have served their nation in the military. And it is a very large part of the ministry of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, with approximately 300 priests serving in hospitals around the nation.

Other parochial societies and parish boards will be found useful or necessary, according to the size of the installation and the complexity of the Catholic community there. Every experienced priest is familiar with them and will utilize them in his military parish, adapting them as needed. While many of these groups are geared to families, our unique population dictates that the chaplain should search for ways to reach the single young men and women by special programs and integrate these young people into the life of the Catholic community.


New priests entering the chaplaincy have to participate in an orientation course of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. It will acquaint them with the staff of the Archdiocese and with the new ministry facing them. This is not intended to duplicate the Chaplains' School that is conducted by each branch of service for all the new chaplains of various denominations concerning military procedures. The orientation course is for priests only and focuses on how as a priest he will function in a unique archdiocese, with the special parochial structure and laity that he will have.


a) The military expects an officer to move up or move out: if he is not progressing, he is not to remain. That is perhaps a more valid concept for spirituality than for job placement. The priest ought never to be content with where he is spiritually. He has to be updating himself; he has to be always curious about Christ, to know Him better; has to be growing in faith, developing as a priest and a Christian. Without experiencing the anxiety sometimes caused by the promotion system, the priest should feel the need to grow spiritually. His reading, his style of life, should adapt themselves to this constant desire.

b) PRAYER. We will not presume to exhort our priests to prayer. Their home dioceses or religious orders as well as their own priestly interest have given them the background and motivation for a life of prayer. We would, however, mention a personal devotional practice — which they might promote among their people as well — that of saying the Angelus daily for vocations. Here is a rich meditative expansion of the Hail Mary that can be used at home or in groups, which is both Marian in orientation and focused on vocation, two aspects worth emphasizing. Bulk supplies of Angelus prayers cards are available from Bishop Acerra’s office through the graciousness of the Redemptorist Fathers, who printed them and donated them.

c) DAYS OF RECOLLECTION AND RETREATS. In accordance with Canon Law and the general policy of all dioceses, priests are reminded of their reponsibility to make a yearly retreat. Many chaplains tie up this exercise with an annual visit to their home diocese or their religious community, thus maintaining a most desirable contact with their brother priests and superiors.

The practice of a monthly Day of Recollection, especially in areas where there is a concentration of chaplains, is a spiritual tonic for the individual priest and a great source of fraternal support. We applaud the chaplains of various areas who take the initiative to gather the brethren for such days or for other gatherings such as a Sunday dinner together. The chaplaincy as a whole is greatly indebted to such men, who generate an esprit de corps among our priests.

d) RELIGIOUS GATHERINGS FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL. Special events such as the International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes are fine sources of spiritual renewal for our priests and people alike. More localized events, such as the retreats at Berchtesgaden and the Chrism Mass in Washington, are occasions to be drawn together by our Faith. They help prevent a sense of isolation that can deaden our Catholic spirit.


The religious education program is one of the most important activities on any base, and no matter how well organized and staffed, it should be something that the chaplain is intimately involved in. The religious education programs throughout the military should be so coordinated that, as people are reassigned, they can easily fit into the programs at their new installation.

The Armed Forces Chaplain Board, using personnel from the Catholic Religious Education groups of each branch of service, produces "The Catholic Curriculum and Resource Guide." This constantly updated manual not only catalogues the most current materials available but also provides a comprehensive guide for catechetical and pastoral planning in the Armed Forces. Chaplains should avail themselves of the great help that they can find from this important document.

The Archdiocese aims to provide comprehensive curriculum guidance so as to insure the same standards and content wherever our highly mobile subjects are stationed. It is one of our deeply-felt and long-range priorities to develop a very competent Office for Religious Education that can assist all our chaplains. Questions concerning religious education should be sent to the Office for Religious Education at our Chancery.


a) Each chaplain is to send in to the Chancery regular reports on his sacramental and pastoral ministry. Up until now, these reports were to be monthly, but to facilitate matters and to bring them more in conformity with governmental practice, this year the reports should be sent in on a quarterly basis. The reports have also been revised somewhat.

A chaplain may not realize the importance of these records, but they are vital for compiling the statistical data requiredby Rome, vital for getting an accurate picture of the current activities in the Archdiocese, and very vital in tracking down missing or incomplete records for individual military personnel. Failure to supply the necessary information in an efficient manner is regarded as a delinquency of responsibility.

b) Chaplains, upon assignment to a new installation, should present themselves as soon as possible to the local Ordinary and request the faculties of the territorial diocese. The local bishops have the responsibility of knowing about the ministry taking place in their diocese. And priests have the need of obtaining proper canonical jurisdiction for their sacramental actions, some of which are bound to involve non-subjects of our Archdiocese.

c) Upon transfer or termination of service, the chaplain should immediately notify the Archdiocese for the Military Services of his change of status.

d) Thousand of marriages of military subjects take place in civilian parishes, witnessed by civilian priests. Although canonically the information must be recorded at that parish, practically speaking we need a cross-file of such information, because of the many inquiries, often desperate, which we later receive. Such information about your subjects should be forwarded to our Sacramental Records Office, making it clear that it was a wedding of military personnel but not witnessed by you on a military installation.

e) The chaplain is responsible for the accurate compiling and transmittal of sacramental records on his installation. Especially if an auxiliary chaplain or contract or visiting priest performs a ceremony, the chaplain has to make doubly sure all papers are correct, complete and sent to the Archdiocese for the Military Services. While an assistant may type up the forms, they should be reviewed and signed by the chaplain in order to be properlycertified.


After World War II when the Veterans Administration was created by act of Congress, it was placed under the canonical responsibility of the Military Ordinariate by Rome. This vast operation is an important part of our nation's service to those who in turn have served their nation in the military. And it is a very large part of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, with approximately 300 priests serving in hospitals around the nation. There are over 30 million veterans; one million of them are disabled, with about 80,000 hospital patients on any given day. Our chaplains are most often veterans themselves, but prior military service is not a requirement to be a V.A. chaplain. What is required is skill and training in pastoral care and counseling (but not necessarily C.P.E. certification). There is an acute shortage of Catholic chaplains for the veterans hospitals. That this shortage should come at a time when ministry to the sick and medical ethics issues become more important than ever is a matter for concern and prayer.



The Apostolic Constitution of Pope John Paul II, Spirituali Militum Curae, which went into effect July 21st, 1986, establishes and regulates a new, unique canonical entity, the "diocese for the military.” Its official Latin title is “Ordinariatus Castrensis.” However, each country can have its own vernacular title, adapted for ease of understanding in that country. Our title, approved by the Holy See, is "The Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A."

This new ApostolicConstitutionprovides the generalmodelfor all countries that have Catholic chaplains who minister to the faithful in the armed forces. Since the military structure differs from country to country, as does the Church-State relationship, the Apostolic Constitution calls for statutes to be drawn up in every nation which spell out in sharper detail how this particular diocese for the military will operate. Our Statutes were approved by the Holy See on 18 August 1987.


This new kind of diocese enjoys a jurisdiction that is both personal and territorial:

Personal, that is, over all Catholics who belong to it regardless of where they happen to be, even in other countries; and

Territorial, that is, over military installations, U.S. diplomatic and government missions abroad, and Veterans Administration facilities.

This jurisdiction is cumulative with the jurisdiction of territorial dioceses, since people in the military retain their rite (Latin, Byzantine) and reside within a particular geographic diocese. However, military posts and V.A. facilities are primarily under the Archbishop for the Military Services and secondarily under the territorial bishop (Ap. Const., para. V). In the absence of our Archbishop and our chaplains, the local bishop and local pastor can act in their own right.

Thus, when there is no chaplain present at a particular installation, the local bishop (and pastor) will be the usual authority for marriage dispensations. But where there is a chaplain present, the local bishop does not dispense or delegate without the approval of the Archbishop for the Military Services. He does not ordinarily delegate or dispense in regard to Marriage or Confirmation on our installations (except in cases where the Archbishop for the Military Services cannot be reached).


Those who comprise the Archdiocese for the Military Services fall under a variety of categories, both as officials exercising jurisdiction and as subjects belonging to this particular archdiocese. Here mention should also be made of retired military personnel, who are not subjects of the Archdiocese but who have a certain claim to our attention.

a) Clergy
Priests and deacons functioning in the Archdiocese for the Military Services need faculties granted by the Archbishop. The clergy eligible to receive those faculties, thus constituting our Presbyterate, are as follows:

1. The bishops and priests who make up the Curia and Tribunal of the Archdiocese for the Military Services;

2. The military chaplains on active duty in the armed forces;

3. Reserve chaplains on active duty as well as reserve chaplains on inactive duty (including Army and Air National Guard) while they participate in training sessions;

4. Chaplains of Veterans Administration facilities;

5. Chaplains of the Civilian Air Patrol whenever they assist at a military installation;

6. Contract chaplains and auxiliary chaplains who have received our Archdiocesan approval, while they are serving military personnel or those in Veterans Administration facilities;

7. Chaplains serving civilian employees of the U.S. Government overseas;

8. Military and civilian chaplains serving the military academies of our nation (West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, and the Merchant Marine Academy);

9. Deacons approved by the Archdiocese for the Military Service to serve on installations under its jurisdiction.

b) Laity

All Catholics (of any rite, Latin or Eastern) who belong to any of the following categories are members of the Archdiocese for the Military Services and the proper subjects of its ministry.

1. Military Personnel on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard;

2. Reserve officers and enlisted personnel who are on active duty or on Inactive Duty Training, including the Army and Air National Guard;

3. Patients residing in Veterans Administration facilities;

4. U.S. Civilians employed overseas by the U.S. Government (whether in a military-connected capacity or otherwise);

5. Cadets at the military academies mentioned above (see a, 8);

6. Members of the Civilian Air Patrol, when they are living in common on a military installation or as part of a C.A.P. exercise;

7. Civilian employees living at the military academies;

8. Catholic spouses and dependents of military personnel on active duty;

9. Catholic spouses and dependents of diplomatic personnel or of U.S. civilian employees of the U.S. Government who reside with them overseas;

10. Civilian employees of the military who live on military installations, such as: technical representatives, teachers, technicians, directors of religious education, laborers and domestics serving military families; as well as Catholic spouses and dependents in civil or invalid marriages.

11. Civilian employees of Veterans Administration facilities when residing in those facilities.

12. Note on Retired Personnel:

Retired military persons are not included by our new Apostolic Constitution as being under our jurisdiction. This is because the retirees and their families are civilians and thus they belong to the civilian or territorial diocese and parish where they actually reside.

However, the U.S. Government does extend various privileges to retired military personnel. And although canonically they are not our subjects, pastorally they come to us seeking our priestly ministry. Therefore, they should be made to feel welcome in the Catholic community of each installation. Their past and present support are an asset to be valued. The Chief of Chaplains office of each branch of service gives detailed regulations about the use of chapels by civilians and retirees.

Due regard for canonical requirements makes several observations necessary about the reception of the sacraments by retirees:

a. The first responsibility for the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Matrimony lies with the proper civilian parish where they live.

b. Reception of these sacraments on an installation that retirees may frequent should be in accord with any special directives concerning chapel use from the office of the Chief of Chaplains of each branch and also in accord with sound pastoral judgment of the local Catholic chaplain.

0. Registration of the reception of the sacraments is made by the chaplain and forwarded to the Chancery of our Archdiocese, just as is done for all our subjects.

d. The chaplain is responsible for seeing to the proper notations to or permissions from the proper territorial pastors of the retirees.

e. The chaplain may validly marry members of retirees' families (who are not subjects of our Archdiocese) on a military installation by reason of his territorial jurisdiction, but only lawfully when the consent of their civilian pastor is obtained.


One large concern about jurisdiction concerns the authority to witness marriages legally and validly. All chaplains, like civilian priests, must have the proper civil and ecclesiastical authority to assist at marriages in the locality where the wedding is to take place. State laws differ greatly and so the chaplain has to learn and fulfil the requirements of the civil law at each new assignment.

Dioceses also differ in giving general marriage delegation. Some but not all, give to all their priests the delegation to marry anywhere within the diocese. The Archdiocese for the Military Services gives such general marriage delegation to its approved priests. Priests employed part-time by the chaplain, however, because of their limited role, do not enjoy general marriage delegation, unless specific notation has been made in individual instances by the Archdiocese. Chaplains should also seek appointment as associate pastor in the local territorial parish for purposes of marriage delegation concerning non-subjects.

If a civilian priest or deacon is to witness a marriage on a military installation, to act validly he needs proper delegation from the chaplain or from the Archbishop for the Military Services.

Jurisdiction is granted to authorized priests for the following cases:

a. for subjects of the Archdiocese who are marrying in chapels or on installations of the Archdiocese; 

b. for subjects of the Archdiocese who are marrying in churches other than chapels of the Archdiocese; 

c. for non-subjects who are marrying in a chapel or installation of the Archdiocese. Permission of the proper pastor is to be obtained. (cc. 1114, 1115, 1118). Directives from the Chief of Chaplains concerning chapel use must, of course, be observed.


Although the revised Canon Law makes some procedural changes, mixed marriages still require special pastoral concern and need the permission of the Ordinary (c. 1124). To grant the permission, the bishop needs a just and reasonable cause (c. 1125). Such reasonable cause should be more than the couple's desire to marry; it need not be a negative reason such as danger of a civil marriage. It may be the Catholic party's maturity of faith or the non-Catholic's fidelity to their respective faith. But the entire matter of sufficient reason and the promises of the Catholic party should be taken seriously by the couple and the priest preparing them.

If either party to be married has a history of a previous marriage, it is not merely a matter for dispensation, but it is a case to be judged by the Marriage Tribunal. "Defect of Form" cases, however routine they may appear, should be solved before a date is set for a new marriage. Similarly, if a dissolution is sought for a prior marriage or a declaration of nullity, no date should be set until a proper investigation is made, the necessary documentation is sent to our Tribunal and a final decree of the Tribunal is issued.

Permissions or dispensations from the Chancery are needed for the following impediments:

a. Permission for Mixed Religion, when the non-Catholic is baptized.

b. Dispensation for Disparity of Cult, or for the other less common impediments of Abduction, Adoption, Affinity, Consanguinity, Crimcn, Impotence and Public Propriety;

c. Dispensation from Canonical Form.

Dispensations are granted by our Archdiocese for the following persons:

a) subjects of the Archdiocese, whether the wedding is in a military chapel or in a civilian church;

b) two non-subjects, in cases of mixed religion only, when they are marrying in a military chapel. (Note the special distinction concerning dispensation from Canonical Form below).

Note on Dispensation from Canonical Form:

This dispensation is granted only when one party to the marriage is non-Catholic. It is granted only to subjects of our Archdiocese (c. 1127, para. 2). Thus, if the Catholic is not a subject of the Archdiocese for the Military Services but is to be married on a military installation or a V.A. facility, then the dispensation is to be requested from the diocese of the Catholic party rather than from us. Similarly, territorial bishops do not grant this dispensation for our subjects without approval of the Archbishop for the Military Services.

Since the wedding takes place outside of the normal Catholic community and our sacramental liturgy, the chaplain should be careful to avoid any appearance of religious indifferentism. All instructions and preparations and registration that are required for any Catholic wedding are to be carried out by the priest.

The canonical reasons for this dispensation should be of a weightier nature than for ordinary mixed marriages. Legitimate reasons are: the possibility of family alienation, special relationship to the particular minister or church, or similar serious difficulties (c. 1127, para. 2).

Permission for a mixed-religion marriage and dispensation from any other matrimonal impediments must also be requested from the Chancery together with the dispensation from the canonical form.

The chaplain has the responsibility to see that notice of this marriage outside of canonical form is notified to this Chancery and to the place of baptism.


The Archdiocese for the Military Services, through its Tribunal, has the canonical competency to judge concerning marriages of the following persons:

a)  Catholics now in service (or government employ overseas) who were married by a chaplain (either in one of our chapels or elsewhere if they were a subject of the chaplain);

b)  Catholics now retired or separated from service, whose marriage took place in one of our chapels or by one of our chaplains;

c)  Catholics who are not in military or diplomatic service but who were married to persons now on active military or overseas government duty. (c. 1673, para. 2);

d)  Non-Catholic Christians who were married to persons now on active duty or in government service overseas. (c. 1673, para. 2);

e)  Non-Catholic Christians whose marriage took place in military or diplomatic or V.A. facilities. (c. 1673, para. 1); 

f)  Catholics or non-Catholics who are now in military or diplomatic service but were not married in a military or diplomatic or V.A. facility, and whose former spouses are not subjects of our Archdiocese — provided that the diocese where the former spouse lives contacts the spouse and gives its consent. (c. 1673, para. 3). 

g) Catholics or non-Catholic Christians who are not our subjects but wish to marry a subject of the Archdiocese — again, provided that the diocese where the former spouse resides contacts the spouse and gives consent.

The Archdiocesan Tribunal has the canonical competency to handle the following types of cases:

a) Formal cases of nullity in marriages between two baptized persons (or one baptized and one unbaptized);

b) Marriages presumed invalid due to presence of an undispensed impediment (usually a prior bond of marriage);

c) Marriages invalid due to a lack of form or to a defect in the canonical form of marriage;

d) Marriages to be dissolved by Pauline Privilege;

e) Marriages that may be dissolved by the Holy Father because of non-consummation or by Privilege of the Faith (marriages of a baptized and an unbaptized).

e) Tribunal Fees: The Marriage Tribunal asks that people who submit Court cases would contribute toward the expense involved. This necessity of indicating that there are varying fees for various types of marriage cases is not always clearly understood or appreciated . Obviously, the granting of decisions is not "bought and paid for", nor is the treatment of a case affected or delayed by lack of any contribution. People are asked to contribute according to their ability, because the whole judicial process involves protracted work, trained lay staff, psychological experts, extensive records and equipment, all of which add a considerable financial burden to the Archdiocese. Unlike many territorial dioceses, the Archdiocese for the Military Services does not have the basic resources to subsidize all the Tribunal costs without the help of good-will offerings from those who seek this pastoral service.

Sometimes, chaplains assist in meeting this problem by providing funds to the Tribunal which are kept in escrow to be used for people whom the chaplain certifies as unable to assist with the cost either totally or partially. Moreover, a request to satisfy a court fee in installments is readily acceptable.

Our chaplains are most helpful to their own people and to the Archdiocese when they take pains to explain the complexities and expenses involved. They can impress on families with a marriage case that the Church is seriously concerned, to the extent of going to a great amount of effort on their behalf.


a) Penance: Priests with the faculties of the Archdiocese can hear confessions of all subjects anywhere. Canon Law further states that a priest with faculties in his own diocese can hear the confession of any person anywhere in the world (c. 967, para. 2).

b) Preaching: All deacons and priests have the faculty to preach anywhere, unless expressly restricted (c. 764).

c) Confirmation:

1. The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the bishop.

2. Priests who baptize a convert or receive converts into the Church may confirm them, but only as part of the Reception Ceremony (c. 883, para. 2).

The faculty to confirm adults brought into the Church does not refer to those who were previously baptized Catholic but never raised in the Faith (RCIA, 304). Specific delegation from the Archbishop is required in such cases (Indult of 13 March 1985).

3. In danger of death, any priest may confirm.

4. A priest can confirm when specifically delegated by the Archbishop.

Since the primary jurisdiction on a military installation belongs to the Archbishop for the Military Services, chaplains do not request delegation to confirm from the local bishop, unless approval is given by our Archbishop.

N.B. Candidates for or in the RCIA program must be informed that they will not be baptized (or received into the Church) until any marriage case affecting them has been finally adjudicated through the Tribunal process.


All Catholics of the military are subjects of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, regarless of their rite. So no special permission is needed for the chaplain to baptize or marry military people of the Byzantine Rite or the Maronite, etc. The proper rite of affiliation should be noted on the Sacramental Record.


Post Office Box 4469, Washington, D.C. 20017-0469

Telephone: (301)853-0400

Fax: (301)853-2246

Serving Catholics in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, VA. Medical Centers and Government Service Overseas

6 MARCH 1996



The EME is the adequately trained and legitimately authorize layperson who is privileged to assist the priest, when necessary in the distribution of Holy Communion, and who may be called upon to hold a Communion Service in the absence of the priest, or, when authorized, to carry the Blessed Sacrament to the faithful in the field or on ship or submarine.

For this privileged function the EME must be chosen carefully as to age (not less than 18), understanding of his/her Catholic faith (especially as regards the Mass and the Holy Eucharist), good standing in the Church, enjoying the respect of the local community, and representing a cross-section of the military community.

The chaplain should provide that the candidate receive several instructions on the teachings and legislation of the Church (particularly those relative to the role of the EME), and sufficient practicum and ‘rehearsal’ on the behavior of the EME in whatever circumstance he/she is called upon to function. Thus the instruction should include at least:

1. an appreciation of the Church's teaching and directives

2. the theology of the Eucharist and the Mass

3. reverence and care of the Eucharist in all circumstances

4. personal prayer life and Christian behavior for the EME as a development of the baptismal call to holiness

5. a practicum on liturgical procedure for the EME

The chaplain in his instruction regarding the reverence for and the care of the Holy Eucharist must caution the EME as to the dangers to be avoided, e.g., mixing unconsecrated hosts or wine with those already consecrated, allowing unauthorized Catholics and especially non-Catholics to handle the Sacred Species, insufficient reverence and security in the location where the Eucharist is reserved, undignified attire and behavior on the part of the EME, lack of cleanliness regarding the sacred vessels, joint faith services, lay reader or layperson acting as or substituting for EME, unfitting behavior of EME in port or when off base or post.

Generally, in order to provide them with experience that may prove helpful in the future, active duty members of the military are, when possible, to be preferred as EMEs. They are presented only by the Catholic chaplain (on the form provided) for appointment by the Archdiocese for a period of three years or until no longer serving at the installation. Where retirees or others are presented for endorsement, this should be for a three-year period. Requests for further renewal of endorsements for these persons should be minimal in order to provide opportunity for other qualified persons to benefit fromthe privilege. Refresher sessions for EMEs are recommended.

When the EME has been mandatedby the Archdiocese the chaplain should arrange a commissioning ceremony, preferably at Sunday Mass. Explaining to the congregation the role of the EME, the chaplain addresses the candidates and asks their acceptance of the commission, confers the documents and ends by giving his priestly blessing.


An EME who has another liturgical role, e.g., lector, server, should not assume the two roles in the same liturgy in order to preserve the distinction of the two. An EME should not be asked to function at more than one liturgy on Saturday evening or on Sunday.

When an EME is new at a chapel, the chaplain will brief him/her on the duties, behavior and attire expected. If Communion for the sick should be indicated in a home or hospital, the EME should be instructed on the proper procedure and the proper liturgical norms to observe.


The chaplain should provide, either personally or through another priest, daily Mass for the faithful. When another priestis unavailable and the chaplain must be absent, e.g., an emergency or other legitimate reason, a Communion service may be provided by a deacon or an EME trained for such a service. The chaplain should arrange that this service be as infrequent as possible. It should not be used as practice for the EME or to familiarize the faithful with lay ministry.

Any text approved by competent ecclesiastical authority may be used, or the Missalette excluding the Canon up to the Lord's Prayer and omitting the Last Blessing (except for a deacon).


On the occasion of lengthy military maneuvers, extended Navy cruises, or a combat situation a trained EME, for serious reasons, may be selected to maintain custody of consecrated hosts in a pyx for Communion to military persons. A pyx is a sacred receptacle with a clasp to keep it secure. The EME must never carry the Eucharist in a box, plastic bag, tupperware, etc.

The chaplain is to designate and adequately train the EME as custodian of the Eucharist, especially in maintaining the highest reverence possible. The custodian should exemplify outstanding Catholic behavior and enjoy peer respect.

Obviously, only a Catholic chaplain would have proper access to consecrated hosts and only a Catholic chaplain is authorized to direct the activities of the EME who is entrusted with the Eucharist.

The EME who is acting as custodian is to be provided with a pyx and consecrated hosts by the Catholic chaplain. On military maneuvers or exercises the custodian will be given only the approximate number of consecrated hosts required for anticipated services to be held in the absence of a priest. If it should be necessary, because of distance, for the EME to keep custody of the Eucharist overnight, great care must be taken to assure that the pyx containing the sacred hosts is maintained in a locked, safe and secure location. In combat situations or other extreme circumstances, the Catholic chaplain will use his pastoral judgment in deciding whether and when the EME will be given permission to maintain the Eucharist on his person overnight or for a period of time (see Canon 935).

For a cruise by ship or submarine the custodian will be given only the approximate number of consecrated hosts required for anticipated services to be held in the absence of a priest or in the case of submariners for the length of their deployment. Ordinarily the sacred hosts should be renewed at least every month, if this can reasonably be done. Replenishment maybe obtained from a Catholic chaplain or a civilian priest in port. The custodian must report to the chaplain upon return to his homeport and return any remaining consecrated hosts to him.

On ship or submarine the pyx is not to be constantly on the person of the custodian. It must be located in a safe and secure place with all proper reverence.

Whenever possible, Catholic personnel on ships without Catholic chaplains are to be encouraged to attend Sunday Mass in port. The EME or lay reader should assume responsibility for organizing a group to attend the Mass ashore or of inviting, via the Command, a priest aboard. A Mass kit, maintained by the EME, should be part of the ship's gear. Transportation for Sunday church ashore is the Command's responsibility.

pg. 1

pg. 2



The Church has always desired to provide with praiseworthy concern, and in a manner suited to the various needs, for the spiritual care of military people.

They constitute, as a matter of fact, a particular social body, and "because of the special conditions of their way of life,”1 whether they belong permanently to the armed forces by virtue of voluntary enrolment, or are called up temporarily by law, they have need of a concrete and specific form of pastoral assistance. With the passage of time, the bishops, and especially the Holy Father himself, mindful of their role of service of “diakonia”2 have made provision, in individual cases, in the best possible way, for a jurisdictional structure which would best correspond with the persons and circumstances involved. Thus, little by little, ecclesiastical structures Were set up in individual countries and in each case a prelate was placed in charge and endowed with the necessary faculties.3

The Sacred Consistorial Congregation issued wise norms in this matter with the Instruction Sollemne Semper of 23 April 1951.4 Now, however, it must be said that the time has come to revise these norms so that they may have greater impetus and efficacy. Leading to this above all is the Second Vatican Council which opened the way to bringing about most suitable particular pastoral initiatives5 and gave close attention to the role of the Church in the world today, especially in all that regards the promotion of peace throughout the whole world. In this context those who give military service must be considered "ministers of the security and freedom of peoples," and indeed," if they carry out their duties properly, they also truly contribute to stabilizing peace.”6

This new step forward is also made advisable by the major changes which have come about not alone as regards the military profession and way of life, but also in the popular understanding in society today of the nature and duties of the armed forces to relation to the reality of human living. Finally, the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law also demands this new move. The Code indeed leaves unchanged the existing norms referring to the pastoral care of military personnel,7 but it is nevertheless opportune to review the situation today so that more abundant fruits may be drawn from them, balanced and adequate as they are in their content.

Norms of this kind, it is true, cannot be identical for all countries, since, neither absolutely nor relatively speaking, is there an equal number Catholics involved in military service, and the circumstances differ from place to place.

It is opportune then that certain general norms be established which will be valid for all Military Ordinariates — formerly called Army Vicariates — to be later supplemented, in the context of the same generallaw, by statutes issued by the Holy See for each Ordinariate.


The following norms are therefore established:

1. Par. 1. The Military Ordinariates, which may also be called Army Ordinariates, and are juridically comparable to dioceses, are special ecclesiastical territories, governed by proper statutes issued by the Apostolic See, in which will be determined in greater detail the prescriptions of the present constitution; agreements between the Holy See and various States are, where they exist, still valid.8

Par. 2. Where circumstances warrant it, after consultation with the Episcopal Conferences concerned, new Military Ordinariates will be erected by the Apostolic See.

II. Par. 1. In charge of a Military Ordinariate is placed an Ordinary asits proper authority: he will normally be a bishop, enjoying all the rights and being bound by the obligations of diocesan bishops, unless the nature of things or particular statutes require otherwise.

Par 2. The Supreme Pontiff freely nominates the Military Ordinary, or institutes or confirms the candidate legitimately designated.9

Par. 3. In order that he may apply himself fully to this special pastoral mission, the Military Ordinary will normally be free of other duties which involve care of souls, unless the particular needs of a country require otherwise.

Par. 4. Between the Military Ordinary and the other local Churches, there should be a close bond of communion and the co-ordination of forces in pastoral action.

III. The Military Ordinary belongs by right to the Episcopal Conference of the country in which the Ordinariate is situated.

IV. The jurisdiction of the Military Ordinary is:

1. personal, in such manner that it can be exercised in regard to the persons who form part of the Ordinariate, even if at times they are beyond the national boundaries:

2. ordinary, both in the internal and external forums:

3. proper, but additional to the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop, because the persons belonging to the Ordinariate do not cease to he. the faithful of that local Church of which they are members by reason of domicile or rite.

V. The areas and places reserved to military personnel fall firstly and chiefly under the jurisdiction of the Military Ordinariate; but also, in a secondary way under that of the diocesan bishop, whenever, that is, the Military Ordinary and his chaplains are not present: in such a case both the diocesan bishop and the parish priest act in their own right.

VI. Par. 1. Besides those considered in paragraphs 3 and 4 below, the presbyterate of the Army Ordinariate is formed by those priests, both secular and religious, who, endowed with the necessary gifts for carrying out fruitfully this special pastoral ministry and with the consent of their own Ordinary, give service in the Military Ordinariate.

Par. 2. Diocesan bishops and the competent religious superiors should give the Army Ordinariate an adequate number of priests and deacons suitable for this mission.

Par. 3. The Military Ordinary can with the approval of the Holy See erect a seminary and promote its alumni to holy orders in the Ordinariate once they have completed the specific spiritual and pastoral formation.

Par. 4. Other clerics also may be incardinated, according to the norm of law, into the Army Ordinariate.

Par. 5. The council of priests should have its own statutes, approved by the Ordinary, taking into account the norms issued by the Episcopal Conference.10

VII. In the sphere assigned to them and to regard to the persons committed to their care, priests who are appointed as chaplains in the Ordinariate enjoy the rights and are bound to the duties of parish priests, unless the nature of things or particular statutes dictate otherwise: cumulatively, however, with the parish priest of the place, asin Article IV above.

VIII. As regards religious and members of societies of apostolic life who give service in the Ordinariate, the Ordinaryshould concern himself to see that they persevere in their fidelity to their vocation and the charism of their own Institute, and maintain close relations with their superiors.

IX. Since all the faithful ought to cooperate in building up the Body of Christ,11 the Ordinary and his presbyterate should be concerned that the faithful laity of the Ordinariate, both on the personal level and working together, play their part as an apostolic leaven, and also as a missionary force among their fellow soldiers with whom they live.

X. Besides those indicated in the statutes, according to Article I, the following belong to the Military Ordinariate, and come under its jurisdiction:

1. the faithful who are military persons, aswell asthose who are at the service of the armed forces provided that they are bound to this by civil laws;

2. all the members of their families, wives and children, even those who, though independent, live in the same house, as well as relatives and servants who also live with them in the same house;

3. those who attend military training schools, or who live or work in military hospitals, hospices for the elderly, or similar institutions;

4. all the faithful, both men and women, whether or not they are members of a religious institute, who carry out in a permanent way a task committed to them by the Military Ordinary, or with his consent.

XI. The Military Ordinary is subject to the Congregation for Bishops or to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and deals with the competent departments of the Roman Curia according to the diversity of cases.

XII. Every five years the Military Ordinary will present a report to the Holy See on the affairs of the Ordinariate, according to the prescribed formula. He is also obliged to make the ad Limina visit as prescribed by law.12

XIII. The following details, among others, shall be determined in the special statutes, without prejudice to Agreements, where such exist, between the Holy See and particular countries:

1. the place where the church of the Army Ordinary and his Curia will beset up;

2. whether there should be one or more vicars general and what other curial officials should be appointed;

3. whatever refers to the ecclesiastical status of the Army Ordinary and of the other priests and deacons attached to the Military Ordinariate during their term of office, and at the moment of leaving the service, as well as the prescriptions to be safeguarded in regard to their military situation;

4. what provision is to be made in the case of vacancy or when the Ordinary is impeded from exercising his office;

5. whatever needs to be said concerning the pastoral council whether of the whole Ordinariate or of a local council, account being taken of the norms of the Code of Canon Law;

6. what books are to be kept, whether for the administration of the Sacraments or for personal records (Status Animarum), according to universal legislation and the prescriptions of the Episcopal Conference.

XIV. Regarding the judicial causes of the faithful of the Military Ordinariate, the tribunal of the diocese in which the curia of the Military Ordinariate has its seat is competent in the first instance: the appeals tribunal will be permanantly designated in the statutes. If the Ordinariate has its own tribunal then the appeals will be made to the tribunal which, with the consent of the Holy See, the Army Ordinary will have designated in a fixed manner.13

The prescriptions of this Our Constitution will come into force on 21 July of the current year. The norms of particular law will remain in force in so far as they are in accordance with this Apostolic Constitution. The statutes of each Army Ordinariate drawn up in accordance with Art. I will have to be submitted to the Holy See for examination within a year following the date mentioned.

We desire that these our dispositions and norms be valid now and in the future, notwithstanding, should it be necessary, Apostolic Constitutions and Ordinances issued by Our Predecessors, or any other prescriptions even those requiring special mention or derogation.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, 21 April of the year 1986, the eighth of Our Pontificate.


1 Vatican Council II, Christus Dominus n. 43.

2 Cf. Vatican Council II, Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 24.

3 These Prelates were sometimes constituted "as if (they were) the true prelates and pastors in regard to their secular clergy" (Innocent X, Brief Cum sicut maiestatis, 26 September 1645): Bullarium Romanum, Turin 1868, t. XV, p. 410.

4 AAS 43 (1951), pp. 562-565.

5 Cf. Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis n. 10.

6 Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution Guadium et Spes, no. 79.

7 Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 569.

8 Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 3. 

9 Cf. Code of Canon Law, cann. 163, and 377, par. 1.

10 Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 496.

11 Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 208.

12 Cf. Code of Canon Law, cann. 399 and 400, parr. 1 and 2; cf. Consistorial Congregation, Decree De Sacrorum liminum visitatione a Vicariis castrensibus peragenda, 28 February 1959: AAS 51 (1959), pp. 272-274.

13 Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1438, no. 2.



Canon 564

A chaplain is a priest to whom is entrusted in a stable manner the pastoral care, at least in part, of some community or particular group of the Christian faithful, to be exercised in accord with universal and particular law.

Canon 566

1. A chaplain ought to be given all the faculties which proper pastoral care requires. Besides those which are granted by particular law or special delegation, a chaplain in virtue of his office enjoys the faculty to hear the confessions of the faithful entrusted to his care, to administer Viaticum and the Anointing of the Sick, and to confer the sacrament of Confirmation on those who are in danger of death.

2. In hospitals, prisons and on sea journeys a chaplain, moreover, has the faculty, to be exercised only in those places, to absolve from censures latae sententiae which are not reserved or declared, with due respect for the prescription of Canon 976.

Canon 569

Military chaplains are governed by special laws.

Canon 571

In exercising his pastoral office, a chaplain is to maintain an appropriately close relationship with the local pastor.




Blazon: Per fess argent and gules; on a fess azure on a globe of the first voided of the field, a latin cross of the first, between in chief an American Bald Eagle displayed proper sustaining in each claw an olive branch vert, and in base the crossed keys of Saint Peter proper.

(Heraldry designed by Paul Sullivan of Providence, Rhode Island)


The arms are composed of three sections, one in red, one in silver or white, and one in blue — the traditional colors of the United States (Silver is the heraldic color for white and is used when the arms are painted; when printed on paper, white is used).

In the uppermost portion of the three sections, on a white or silver background, is an American Bald Eagle in his proper colors, holding in each claw the universal symbol of peace, a green olive branch.

In the lowest, the red, portion of these arms are the gold and silver crossed keys of Saint Peter, the symbol of the Holy See, the Papacy and the Catholic Church.

In the middle portion of these arms, known as a fess (a bar that goes from side to side across the arms), which is blue, are a silver cross on the outline meridians of the earth, also in silver.

The complete composition of the arms of the Archdiocese for the Military Services conveys the message and the mission of this diocese — to be Americans carrying peace; to act as go-between for the United States and the Holy See; and to carry Christ all over the world.


An excerpt from The Challenge of Peace, the American Bishops' Pastoral Letter on war and peace (paragraphs 309 to 317).

To Men and Women in Military Service:

Millions of you are Catholics serving in the armed forces. We recognize that you carry special responsibilities for the issues we have considered in this letter. Our perspective on your profession is that of Vatican II: "All those who enter the military service in loyalty to their country should look upon themselves as the custodians of the security and freedom of their fellow-countrymen; and where they carry out their duty properly, they are contributing to the maintenance of peace."

It is surely not our intention in writing this letter to create problems for Catholics in the armed forces. Every profession, however, has its specific moral questions and it is clear that the teaching on war and peace developed in this letter poses a special challenge and opportunity to those in the military profession. Our pastoral contact with Catholics in military service, either through our direct experience or through our priests, impresses us with the demanding moral standards we already see observedand the commitment to Catholic faith we find. We are convinced that the challenges of this letter will be faced conscientiously. The purpose of defense policy is to defend the peace; military professionals should understand their vocation this way. We believe they do, and we support this view.

Weremind all in authority and in the chain of command that their training and field manuals have long prohibited, and still do prohibit, certain actions in the conduct of war, especially those actions which inflict harm on innocent civilians. The question is not whether certain measures are unlawful or forbidden in warfare, but which measures: to refuse to take such actions is not an act of cowardice or treason but one of courage and patriotism.

We address particularly those involved in the exercise of authority over others. We are aware of your responsibilities and impressed by the standard of personal and professional duty you uphold. We feel, therefore, that wecanurge you to doeverything youcanto assure that every peaceful alternative is exhausted before war is even remotely considered. In developing battle plans and weapons systems, we urge you to try to ensure that these are designed to reduce violence, destruction, suffering, and death to a minimum, keeping in mind especially non-combatants and other innocent persons.

Those who train individuals for military duties must remember that the citizen does not lose his or her basic human rights by entrance into military service. No one, for whatever reason, can justly treat a military person with less dignity and respect than that demanded for and deserved by every human person. One of the most difficult problems of war involves defending a free society without destroying the values that it give meaning and validity. Dehumanization of a nation’s military personnel by dulling their sensibilities and generating hatred toward adversaries in an effort to increase their fighting effectiveness robs them of basic human rights and freedoms, degrading them as persons.

Attention must be given to the effects on military personnel themselves of the use of even legitimate means of conducting war. While attacking legitimate targets and wounding or killing opposed combat forces may be morally justified, what happens to military persons required to carry out these actions? Are they treated merely as instruments of war, insensitive as the weapons they use? With what moral or emotional experiences do they return from war and attempt to resume normal civilian lives? How does their experience affect society? How are they treated by society?

It is not only basic human rights of adversaries that must be respected, but those of our own forces as well. We re-emphasize, therefore, the obligation of responsible authorities to ensure appropriate training and education of combat forces and to provide appropriate support for those who have experienced combat. It is unconscionable to deprive those veterans of combat whose lives have been severely disrupted or traumatized by their combat experiences of proper psychological and other appropriate treatment and support.

Finally, we are grateful for the sacrifice so many in military service must make today and for the service offered in the past by veterans. We urge that those sacrifices be mitigated so far as possible by the provision of appropriate living and working conditions and adequate financial recompense. Military persons and their families must be provided continuing opportunity for full spiritual growth, the exercise of their religious faith, and a dignified mode of life.

We especially commend and encourage our priests in military service. In addition to the message already addressed to all priests and religious, we stress the special obligations and opportunities you face in direct pastoral service to the men and women of the armed forces. To complement a teaching document of this scope, we shall need the sensitive and wise pastoral guidance only you can give. We promise our support in facing this challenge.


For a world that is being born and is dying each day, we pray: Father, may the Blood of your Son and the life of your Spirit give it health and direction.

For the United States — world power, beacon to the free world, melting pot — we pray: Lord, may it be first of all a loving home to us all.

For the young men and women who are our nation's defense for today and its hope for tomorrow, we pray: Lord, keep their years in the military unscathed and noble.

For the chaplains, who come from varied dioceses and orders to shepherd a constantly-changing flock, we pray: Lord, may they form a truly Christian community at each post.

For our Church, our Pope, our special Archdiocese, we pray: Lord, may we always feel with us the unity of one Mystical Body.

For the priest who carries this manual, we pray: Lord, never let him feel alone or unappreciated — or unchallenged.


Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae: Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus, exsules, filii Hevae. Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle. Eia ergo, Advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte. Et Jesus, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis post hoc exsilium ostende. O clemens: O pia: O dulcis Virgo Maria.

Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, Priests’ Manual, 1993.