Memorial Day Tribute to Boston’s Military Chaplains

Today, Memorial Day, we share with you the video tribute presented by the Boston Archdiocese to the military chaplains from Boston.

Here is an excerpt from the article in the Boston Pilot:

BRAINTREE — This Memorial Day, as our nation salutes the courageous men and women of our armed forces, the Archdiocese of Boston celebrates and offers thanksgiving for the priests from the archdiocese who serve alongside American troops as military Chaplains.

“Recognizing the great need for Chaplains, the Archdiocese of Boston is proud to be able to provide priests for this important ministry,” said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley. “In times of war and peace, the military relies on the pastoral care and supportive presence of our priest Chaplains. This Memorial Day we pray for all those serving in the armed forces and in particular remember those who have given their lives for our country and our freedom. May God grant them eternal rest and peace.”

The Archdiocese of Boston is one of two leading U.S. dioceses providing priests for military service. Since WWII, more than 300 of Boston’s priests have served as military Chaplains, with twelve Boston priests currently in active service, including seven fulltime.

“Our nation is blessed to have priest Chaplains continuing the long-standing tradition of serving the men and women of our military,” the cardinal said

The Catholic Appeal team for the Archdiocese produced a video tribute to honor our military Chaplains and spread awareness of this special ministry. The video is narrated by two priests of the Archdiocese of Boston, Reverend Richard M. Erikson, Ph.D., Brigadier General, USAFR, and Reverend Michael B. Medas, Chaplain, Major, Air National Guard.

The video is well done. Praying for our military chaplains and supporting our chaplains who put themselves in the path of danger are very good things.  We think the production of the video and publicity about the work of military chaplains is a worthwhile effort.

We could stop there and say nothing more, and BCI thought about doing so.

However, unfortunately, part of the video is a bit misleading, and BCI struggled to not at least share this for the benefit of our readers.

Besides the fact that both of the priests interviewed, Fr. Richard Erikson and Fr. Medas are reservists, not active duty chaplains, at the end of the video, one of the last frames says, “The people of the archdiocese support our military chaplains through the Office of Clergy Personnel and the Office of Vocations.”  These ministries are funded through the Catholic Appeal.  To make a donation, please visit…”

This implies that your donation to the Catholic Appeal directly supports military chaplains.  Is that true?  Here are the facts:

Yes, the Office of Clergy Personnel supports all of our priests, including chaplains, emotionally and spiritually. But the salaries and benefits for the chaplains while they are serving in the military are paid by the military, not by the diocese.  Reserve duty military chaplains are actually part-time chaplains whose primary job is either in a diocesan office or in a parish.  In their primary job, their salary is paid by either the office or parish; and while on reserve duty as a chaplain, they are paid per diem by the military. Full-time chaplains in all branches are paid, monitored, and ranked by their respective branches and not by the home diocese or the Archdiocese for the Military Services. In other words, your contribution to the Annual Appeal which helps fund the Office of Clergy Personnel really does nothing more to support a diocesan priest serving as a military chaplain (reserve or active duty) than is already done by that office to support that diocesan priest serving in a parish or diocesan office.

In the same way, BCI is also not sure how exactly the Office of Vocations (with funding support by the Catholic Appeal) supports military chaplains, except perhaps very remotely as a feeder for seminarians who later get ordained and might decide to pursue a military chaplaincy. The U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) has its own vocation director (Msgr. John McLaughlin, now at Boston University, was once in this role and did a superb job), and each branch also has its own recruiting office for chaplains. If a seminarian wants to pursue a vocation to the priesthood as a military chaplain, the seminarian is co-sponsored by the military archdiocese, and the military archdiocese splits tuition and related costs evenly with each diocese where the seminarian is formed, educated and ordained.  Given that background, regardless of whether our seminaries are or are not forming future military chaplains, it is unclear how the people of the archdiocese support military chaplains through the diocesan Office of Vocations.

As best as BCI can tell, only in the most remote way does the Catholic Appeal support military chaplains, and thus the claim at the end of the video to that effect feels misleading. If someone has proof otherwise, please let us know. We continue to maintain the view that people who want to support the good works of the Catholic Church should skip the Catholic Appeal and instead help pay a local parish bill (maintenance, repair, utilities, etc.).

Still, BCI thinks the ministry over time of 300 military chaplains from Boston and the current ministry of 12 chaplains merits our heartiest appreciation and accolades on Memorial Day, and we commend the archdiocese for the effort to recognize their work.

8 Responses to Memorial Day Tribute to Boston’s Military Chaplains

  1. jay says:

    By all means, turn to your local parish and support it fully to insure its viability and strength but to skip the Catholic Appeal and its outreach to 50 ministries is far too harsh a position.
    We can make a bold statement by reducing our contributions until serious address is given to the six figure salaries, among other valid criticisms that prompt our reduction, but skipping the Appeal altogether is to reject the far reaching good that the archdiocese provides to the legitimate needs of many.

    Surely our actions of holding back will generate a wake up call to those responsible for sanctioning salaries far in excess of comparable positions in like archdioceses.and avoid the abhorrent
    conditions that lead to the debacle of the Daughters of St. Paul situation.
    May that call quickly penetrate the powers that be to take action of their own..

    • Michael says:

      Hold every penny back until we they return to us the things they have squandered (including but not limited to Catholic Charities adoptions, Catholic Hospitals, Catholic Schools, Boston College), and they start acting out the faith courageously. Please tell me, after surrendering all of these fine institutions (that once performed uncountable acts of charity), what good is being done (especially balanced against the harm that they have caused)?

  2. Michael says:

    BCI said: “As best as BCI can tell, only in the most remote way does the Catholic Appeal support military chaplains, and thus the claim at the end of the video to that effect feels misleading.”

    The most cynical among us might call that an attempt at basic propaganda using the principle of transfer. Because am not the cynical type, I will assume, the lack of accuracy in the statement is simply a “misunderstanding” of the specific funding sources.

    I have a question though.

    Of the 12 Boston Priests in active service, who, according the the propaganda, (I mean, video), “live for something bigger than themselves,” who among them will stand up and fight against the destruction of our religious freedoms by our Catholic Leaders (Pelosi, Biden, etc.) and mockery of Christ, when they’re bluff is called by the current orders of their “commander in chief?”

    See below article from last Wednesday.
    Pelosi: Forcing Military Chaplains to Perform Gay Marriages Against Their Beliefs No Big Deal

    The stage is being set so that military Chaplains can and most likely will be ordered to perform same sex marriage in contradiction to their religious beliefs. 
    WASHINGTON, May 22, 2012 ( – Democrat House leaders including Nancy Pelosi have opposed a measure to ensure military chaplains are not forced to perform same-sex “marriages,” arguing that it is based on a “manufactured crisis” and therefore unnecessary – a response strongly criticized by chaplain advocates.
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday echoed sentiments issued by the Obama White House regarding the conscience language, part of a defense spending bill, saying that “there’s nothing that says that chaplains act against their faith.”
    The result will be that chaplains of certain faiths abandon the military as they are forced to choose between violating their faiths or being driven out for not performing such marriage ceremonies. 
    What is required is the respect of certain long-established and broadly supported religious beliefs. We currently lack a White House and Democrat leadership capable of providing this respect. When Leftists empowered by big government meet religion, religion loses and is ultimately diminished in size and influence.
    Pelosi and Obama need to be held accountable for it and not be allowed to slip away based on misleading arguments designed to give them the authority to dictate their own liberal agendas. 

  3. Ken Foscaldo says:

    I do not understand why BCI is against the Catholic Appeal and advises that supporting their local parish directly is a better option. Where is the support going to come from for the many ministries that eminate from the Pastoral Center – one example is the Office of New Evangelization.
    I appreciate the insight that BCI provides most of the time but I do not think it is productive to advocate not supporting the Catholic Appeal.

    • Ken,
      Thank you for your message and positive feedback on the insights from BCI. We are against contributing to the Catholic Appeal largely because the Boston Archdiocese has not shown themselves to be good stewards of donor funds–in terms of excessive six-figure salaries paid and excessive expenditures on administrative costs vs ministry expenses.

      The number of people earning above $150K and the salaries above $150K have increased by about 6X since 2006–from $575K to around $3.5M. See these posts:

      We have been writing about the excessive six-figure salaries for close to two years, and the Finance Council formed a Compensation Committee 18 months ago to study this issue, yet there has still been no meaningful action.

      Now look at how the money is spent:

      In the 2005 operating results, we see that Management and General expenses (equivalent to Administrative Services) were $10.1M out of total expenses of $37.9M, or 26% of the total. In 2010, Administrative Services expenses were 30% of the total budget, and in the 2012 fiscal year, 36% of the budget ($9.95M out of $27.8M) is consumed by Administrative Services. So, the portion of the budget and total $ amount spent on areas such as evangelization, college campus ministry, faith formation and other important ministries has dropped over time, while the portion of the budget spent on administrative expenses has increased from 26% to 36%.

      Meanwhile, 40% of parishes are in the red, with the situation getting so dire that in some cases the archdiocese is starting to have to pay parish bills for maintenance, repairs, and utilties.

      Assuming you agree this trend is not to your liking, what approach of delivering a wake-up call to the archdiocesan leadership and getting a response would you suggest? The Cardinal does not respond to emails, letters, or phone calls. Jack McCarthy, Vice Chair of the Finance Council also does not respond to emails. None of the members of the Compensation Committee have responded to emails from BCI asking about when they will make salary adjustments. We are out of ideas at this point. Besides holding back contributions from the Catholic Appeal, what other suggestion would you offer?

    • Michael says:

      Other than throwing a couple rock concerts with a rapper with a full body tattoo, what specifically has the Office of New Evangelization done that is more important than providing safe homes for adopted children (the surrendered mission of Catholic Charities)? Catholic (moral) Healthcare (surrendered mission of Caritas Christi Hospital network)? Formation of solid, moral (not questioning or confused), productive Catholic school children (the former mission of parochial Catholic schools – which are aggressively being phased out) … ? I notice they are a lot of talk, no action. Give them an opportunity to stand up for their faith and watch how quickly they cower.

  4. Boston Pastor says:

    I would like to thank BCI for being the first to recognize that Msgr. John McLaughlin was indeed honored with the title of Monsignor. Cardinal Sean has never made mention of it. No Pilot article, nothing in the Monthly Mailing. He is so afraid of criticism, he can’t even acknowledge an honor so well deserved. Msgr. McLaughlin is one of the most outstanding priests in our Archdiocese. So great to see someone like him given something good.

  5. Bob Baker says:

    One of the best priests that has been my pleasure to know is now retired in Boston, from whence he came. He went to war, Vietnam, and was stationed in Germany when we met him and where he baptized our two children. What a truly wonderful person he is and Boston can be proud to have produced such a great priest, Fr. Charles Logue.

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