Dozens of U.S. military chaplains began the day on October 26 with Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter before attending the weekly audience of Pope Benedict XVI. Mention was made of the presence of the group of about 40 Catholic chaplains from all branches of the U.S. armed forces and their leader, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio for the Military Services of the United States, who were among the ten thousand people participating in the prayer vigil in the Paul VI Audience Hall in preparation for the day of prayer for peace in Assisi.
The Pope told the gathering, “Always stay faithfully united to Christ and bear joyful witness to the Gospel. To all of you I cordially impart my Blessing.”
The U.S. military chaplains, most of whom are currently stationed throughout Europe and the Middle East, are gathered in Rome this week for their annual convocation. The convocation comes as the Church celebrates the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s reform of the military Ordinariates—the structures that provide for the pastoral care of Catholics serving in militaries around the world and their families—a move that brought about creation of particular Churches for the military services in various countries, including the U.S.
On October 23, following the sixth International Congress of Military Ordinariates and the third International Formation Course in Humanitarian Law for Military Chaplains, which took place last week under the joint sponsorship of the Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Holy Father addressed participants. He said the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s document, Spirituali Militum Curae is an excellent opportunity to pause and reflect on the quarter-century of development that the Pope’s reform stirred.
“In expressing my heartfelt encouragement,” Pope Benedict said, “I would draw your attention to the need to ensure that men and women of the armed forces receive spiritual assistance that meets all the requirements of a consistent Christian life and mission.” He said that the mission “is one of forming Christians who have a deep faith, who live a committed religious practice, and are true witnesses of Christ in their community.”
The Pope said military chaplains and bishops should feel responsible for proclaiming the Gospel and administering the sacraments wherever there are soldiers and their families. “The work of evangelization in the world of the military,” Pope Benedict said, “requires a growing assumption of responsibility, so that, in military life as well, there be an ever new, convicted and joyful proclamation of Jesus Christ, the one hope for life and peace for all humanity.”
At a Mass in front of St. Peter’s tomb, Archbishop Broglio served as principal celebrant. Among those assisting at the Mass were several seminarians studying for the priesthood and eventual service as military chaplains at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Also attending were Dr. Mark Moitoza, Vice-Chancellor and Director of Evangelization for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS-USA), and Deacon Andrew Young of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Lector was Ryan Boyle of St Petersburg, Florida. Acolytes were Mr James Hinkle of Arlington, Virginia, Alexander Scott of Washington, D.C. William Appel of Covington, Kentucky served as cantor.
For information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, visit http://www.milarch.org .