Visits Catholic faithful still serving in war-torn nation after more than 12 years of armed conflict
WASHINGTON, D.C. – His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the United States Military Services, is back home following an unprecedented pastoral visit to Afghanistan.
Archbishop Broglio visited the war-torn, south Asian country over Holy Week at the invitation of General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. (USMC), commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A). It was the first-ever visit to Afghanistan by the ordinary of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), the sole ecclesiastical jurisdiction responsible for pastoral care and ministry to all Catholics in the American armed forces, at home and overseas. The Archbishop also endorses and providesfaculties for all priests who serve in the military.
During his April 15-21 visit, Archbishop Broglio visited with Catholic servicemen and women still deployed at all eight major U.S. military bases in Afghanistan and in all four regions of the country, which has been at war now for more than twelve years. He also spent time with each of the 13 Catholic military chaplains currently on duty in Afghanistan, discussing the issues they face day in and day out, offering his blessings, and encouraging their courageous service.
Among highlights of his visit, Archbishop Broglio:
- Baptized four converts and confirmed numerous Catholics on deployment;
- Installed as Lector U.S. Army Major Derick D. Bothern, a candidate for the permanent diaconate in the diocese of Colorado Springs, Colo.;
- Celebrated two Good Friday liturgies, one at Shindand Air Base in Herat Province, the other in Kandahar;
- Celebrated the Easter Vigil at Camp Bastion/Leatherneck in Helmand Province;
- Celebrated two Easter Sunday Masses, one at headquarters in Kabul, the other at the Embassy of Italy, which houses the only permanent Catholic chapel in all of Afghanistan;
- Met with his Italian counterpart, the Most Reverend Santo Marcianò, Archbishop of the military ordinariate of Italy;
- Visited an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity, the congregation of nuns founded in 1950 by Blessed Mother Teresa.
Archbishop Broglio said:
“It was deeply moving to visit that portion of my flock which is serving the cause of peace and development in Afghanistan. The visits to many military communities gave me an opportunity to fulfill my role as pastor. Also deeply touching was my visit on Easter Sunday morning to the orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity, where they care for eleven exceptional orphaned children.”
The U.S. Department of Defense says about 33,000 U.S. troops remain on deployment in Afghanistan. The AMS estimates that about 25% of those are Catholic.