In late March 2023, Walter Reed Medical Center issued a “cease and desist order” to priests that had been providing Catholic pastoral care to the famed military hospital personnel and patients for over 2 decades and specifically barred them from conducting pastoral work on the Walter Reed campus over Easter. This followed the hospital terminating the priest contract 31 March 2023 and instead awarded the new contract to a secular defense contracting firm that, according to the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, “cannot fulfill the statement of work in the contract.” Translation – the new contract doesn’t provide resources for Catholic servicemembers. Walter Reed has one active duty Catholic Priest on site who is retiring.1
The Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services was established in 1985 by Pope John Paul II. While it receives no funding from the government, it is the sole certifier of Catholic chaplains in the military and looks out for the interests of 1.8 million Catholics in the military culture.2 The Archdiocese reached out to the Walter Reed leadership for clarification of the order and received no reply.
Walter Reed’s command team seems to be ignoring the military’s Archdiocese recommendations for military Catholicism that have been respected since it’s creation nearly 40 years ago. The exact reasons are unknown as Walter Reed has refused to communicate with the Archdiocese but the timing is extremely suspect – 1 week ahead of the most holy time of the year. A nice explanation could be a misguided decision made by a ‘bean counter’ medical service corps officer, Captain Felix Bigby, who is serving as an interim director of the sprawling medical complex and trying to lower costs. His official bio seems only to focus on metrics (# of beneficiaries, # of square feet in each building he is in charge of, etc) and not on his ‘people’ credentials.
A more nefarious conclusion is that Walter Reed is continuing the military’s and US federal government’s ongoing assault on Christianity in America. The Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services is pro-life (as are 76% of practicing US Catholics) and supported the 50th Annual March For Life in January 2023 in Washington DC. Woke strike #1 contends that this action is a government retaliation for the Archdiocese’s pro-life stance and furthers the government’s actions to subvert Christianity in America.
As a medical personnel, Walter Reed’s leadership likely supports much of the civilian medical leaders’ pro-choice viewpoints. Since the 24 June 2022 SCOTUS ruling, the American Medical Association’s Dr Jack Resneck has lost his mind on Twitter and in news releases, lashing out in support of abortion as ‘healthcare.’ The American College of Emergency Physicians has been censoring internal physician commentary that contradicts the organization’s pro-choice stance. Recently, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology prohibited any pro-life OB doctors from speaking at its national conference, even though it featured multiple lectures in support of abortion and novel new ways to perform the ‘medical’ procedure. It is quite plausible that Woke strike #2 is the military medical community flexing its might against a powerful pro-life force in the military.
Whatever the source of the actions by Walter Reed’s leadership, the timing and arrogance in refusing to discuss the matter with the military’s Archdiocese is deeply concerning.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of OIF/OEF
Co-chair of www.americanism24.org Superpac