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Roman Catholic Archdiocese For the Military Services, USA
Catholic ecclesiastical jurisdiction
Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA
Foederatarum Civitatum Americæ Septemtrionalis
The coat of arms of the Archdiocese for the Military Services
The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA is a personal jurisdiction, meaning that it has no defined territory and that its jurisdiction extends to those whom it serves throughout the world. It has jurisdiction wherever American men and women in uniform serve. The jurisdiction of the Archdiocese extends to all United States government property in the United States and abroad, including U.S. military installations, embassies, consulates and other diplomatic missions.
Prior to the creation of the Military Ordinariate and then the Archdiocese for the Military Services, the armed forces of the United States was served by an informal corps of volunteer priests. Beginning in 1917, the spiritual care of those in military service fell to the Military Vicariate, the equivalent of a personal vicariate apostolic, that is, a particular church the membership of which is defined by some personal quality (as in this case being a member or a dependent of a member of the armed services) that is headed by a legate of the pope. Originally, the ordinariate was headed by then-Bishop Patrick Hayes, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York who served double duty as papal military vicar for the United States beginning on November 24, 1917.
Hayes was chosen because New York was the primary port of embarkation for U.S. troops leaving for Europe and therefore a convenient contact point for Catholic chaplains serving with them. When Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, died, Hayes was appointed as his successor and kept the additional title and duty of military vicar. In November 1939, the Holy See established the Military Vicariate of the United States of America. The post remained an additional duty of the archbishop of New York from Hayes' time until Cardinal Terence Cooke began plans to separate it as its own jurisdiction in the early 1980s, plans he was unable to carry out before his death in 1983. Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor--a retired Navy chaplain with the rank of Rear Admiral, having served as chief of Navy chaplains (the military's title for its own senior chaplain officer) subsequently served as an auxiliary bishop for the Military Vicariate. He succeeded Cardinal Cooke as Archbishop of New York and Apostolic Administrator of the Military Vicariate. He oversaw the completion of the transition. On July 21, 1986, Pope John Paul II reconstituted the military vicariate as the present Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, naming Archbishop Joseph T. Ryan its first archbishop.
In 2012, Catholic Extension approved a $56,000 two year grant to the Archdiocese for the Military Services to support faith formation programs for Catholics in the United States military. As of April 2013, about 25% of the U.S. armed forces are Catholic.
As of 2017, the Archdiocese had 208 priests on active duty serving approximately 1.8 million people.
The lists of bishops, archbishops and auxiliary bishops and their tenure of service:
The Geneva Conventions state (Protocol I, June 8, 1977, Art 43.2) that chaplains are noncombatants: they do not have the right to participate directly in hostilities. Captured chaplains are not considered Prisoners of War (Third Convention, August 12, 1949, Chapter IV Art 33) and must be returned to their home nation unless retained to minister to prisoners of war.
Reports of sexual abuse
In 1985. Catholic US Army chaplain Alvin L. Campbell plead guilty to sex abuse and received a 14 year prison sentence. He served 7 years of this sentence and was removed from public ministry. He died in 2002.
In 2000, Catholic army chaplain Mark Matson was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for molesting a 13 year old boy while serving at a US Army hospital.
In 2005, Catholic chaplain Gregory Arflack was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting members of the US Army.
In 1991, US Air Force priest Thomas Chleboski pled guilty to five counts of molesting a 13 year old boy in 1989 and received a 20 year prison sentence. He was accused of luring his victim with tours of Andrews Air Force Base.
Barry Ryan, who served two years in prison for separate acts of sex abuse he committed in 2003, was removed from the archdiocese in 1995 after allegations surfaced that he committed acts of sex abuse against a minor in 1994.
On April 12, 2019, Arthur Perrault, a former Roman Catholic priest who served as a US Air Force chaplain, was found guilty of sexually abusing an altar boy at an Air Force base and a veterans' cemetery in New Mexico in the early 1990s. On September 15, 2019, Perrault, who was extradited in September 2018 years after he fled the country, received a 30 year prison sentence. Perrault was serving in the Air National Guard when the abuse took place.
Francis P. Duffy - Chaplain for the 69th Infantry Regiment (a military unit from New York City and part of the New York Army National Guard) - known as "The Fighting 69th" - which had been federalized and redesignated the 165th U.S. Infantry Regiment.
John Joseph Mitty - In 1919, he was assigned as Catholic chaplain at the U.S. Military Academy; during his tenure at West Point, General Douglas MacArthur served as superintendent.
Colman O'Flaherty - Chaplain with the 1st Infantry Division; was killed in action, in France; posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Herman G. Felhoelter - chaplain with the 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division; executed, along with 30 critically wounded soldiers; posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross
Emil J. Kapaun - chaplain with 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. Captured by Chinese forces at the Battle of Unsan, November 1-2, 1950. Continued his priestly ministry among American POWs, including speaking out against Communist indoctrination and stealing food and medicine. Died in captivity on May 23, 1951; posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2013. Declared a Servant of God in 1993, Fr. Kapaun's cause for canonization as a Saint began in 2008. In 2022, Catholic officials raised the possibility that Fr. Kapaun died a martyr for the Catholic faith, which would hasten the process of canonization.
^ abcdefghijklmnoOn Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetery is a monument for 83 Catholic chaplains who died in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
^Ryan was a Navy chaplain from 1943 to 1946 and took part in the Marine landing at Okinawa. He served as chancellor of the U.S. Military Vicariate from 1957 to 1958. On February 7, 1966, he was appointed the first archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska, by Pope Paul VI. He was consecrated a bishop on March 25 by Cardinal Spellman. On November 4, 1975, Ryan was named coadjutor archbishop for the Military Vicariate and Titular Archbishop of Gabii. After the death of Cardinal Cooke, Pope John Paul II elevated the Military Vicariate (which had been run by the Archdiocese of New York) to the rank of an archdiocese and named Ryan the first archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, on March 16, 1985.
^Scroll down - through the 32 ecclesiastical provinces (in alphabetical order) - to the Washington archdiocese, below which is the Military Services archdiocese and its archbishop and auxiliary bishops.
Crosby, Donald F., 1994. Battlefield Chaplains: Catholic Priests in World War II. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. ISBN0-7006-0814-1
O'Brien, Steve. Blackrobe in Blue: The Naval Chaplaincy of John P. Foley, S.J. 1942-1946 (see external link, below)
O'Rahilly, Alfred. The Padre of Trench Street (about Jesuit Father William Doyle). ISBN1-905363-15-X
O'Malley, Mark Francis. An History of the Development of Catholic Military Chaplaincy in the United States. Gregorian University, 2009 (dissertation).