Shortage of Catholic Chaplains draws Protestants, Contractors

The shortage of military Catholic Chaplains has been noted here repeatedly.  Now, military Archbishop Timothy Broglio has said the shortage is causing Catholic military personnel to seek help from Protestant Chaplains.

Because many in the armed services often face grave situations, [Broglio] said, questions about the meaning of life and the existence of God often surface.

“They are at great risk because there are not nearly enough priests to meet their needs,” he said. Speaking of the growing trend for Catholics to seek help from Protestant ministers, Archbishop Broglio said “our separated brothers and sisters are more than eager to fill the gap created by the absence of a priest.”

Meanwhile, separate reports indicate the Air Force is attempting to meet the need for Catholic Chaplains by hiring civilians and contractors as military Priests — a topic noted here previously.

Also noted at the Army Chaplaincy blog.


  • I’ve always said the chaplains should be civilians and/or contractors; they are non-combatants and should not be in a “Military” uniform. This doesn’t make them any less significant, but it does solve a preponderance of a lot of issue, from DADT to praying in Jesus name to name a few. I have other issues with them being involved in Military decision making, I have witnessed firsthand, and on numerous occasions, when a chaplains advice was dead wrong (not generally public knowledge either).

    I know Dealer said in a separate post that civilian preachers can’t help in “war-zones”, however, we can have “additional-duty” chaplains too. I mean, in the big scheme of things, does it matter who prays [or supports] for who? I know some people like having the preachers ear and what they say will remain private (mostly), but given the circumstances [WAR] maybe ONE service should hire and deploy Chaplains to support the AORs our troops are deployed to. I’m not sure if a two-stripper Air Force member can relate to a Jar-Head Capt preacher, but maybe they can look past the hair cut and chiseled chin. (Kidding, just kidding)

    The real question is…why is there a shortage of “Catholic” chaplains? Can it be because of the grueling operational tempo — deployment schedule — six months away, six months at home? Or, are they just flat out done with Uncle Sam and the “rules” they must follow working with the Military? What does this mean…“Many will see the information five, 10, 15 times before they respond?” and why?

  • Spiritual.Warrior

    Strengthening Army Spirits:

    I whole heartedly agree that military Chaplains provide an irreplaceable role in helping our Soldiers daily find strength in their faith to remain resilient though their difficult and challenging mission. While preparing my company to deploy to Iraq, my brigade commander informed us that we would not have enough Chaplains to address the needs of our Soldiers during our yearlong mission. Catholic Chaplains in particular were a precious commodity.

    Being Catholic myself, I understood the basic need of my Soldiers whom were also of the Catholic faith to participate in fellowship. Before deploying, I took the time to become a Eucharistic minister so I could allow my Soldiers an opportunity to practice their faith with brothers in arms, strengthen their spirits to face the adversity of the next mission, and genuine fellowship with one another. I know that I could never replace a Catholic Chaplain. In fact, carrying the Eucharist was a weighty responsibility. My dual role as a Solider and a Eucharistic minister was at times a moral dilemma as I had to make life and death decisions. Through this journey I gained a deep appreciation of gratitude and respect for what a Catholic Chaplain provides.

    The one opportunity a Catholic Chaplain had to visit my unit was Father Tim Vakoc. That particular day I was looking forward to sharing mass with him, unfortunately that was the day he was struck down by an IED. My Soldiers and I were in disbelief that a man of God was struck down in such a malicious manner. That moment caused many of my Soldiers to question their faith. My job that day became even tougher. I had to remind my Soldiers the importance of their faith and that it will keep them going when everything else falls short. My unit was very blessed that year; it was the only company in the brigade that did not have a fatality.

    Chaplains are ultimately indispensible in helping our Soldiers and families. After 22 years of service, multiple combat deployments, my faith is the one thing that keeps me strong and resilient.

    Disclaimer: This blog was used to satisfy course work requirements at the Command and General Staff College. The views expressed in this blog are those of myself and do not reflect the official policy or position of the department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.