Statutes of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

From the period of the War of Independence until World War I, the pastoral care of military personnel was provided for in various ways under the authority of the local Ordinaries. On November 24, 1917, the Apostolic See appointed a Bishop for the Military in the United States. On November 25, 1939, the Archbishop of New York was Military Vicar for U.S. military personnel. On June 13, 1946, the jurisdiction of the Military Vicar was extended to Catholic civilians serving the U.S. Government overseas and further amplified on November 4, 1954. In 1946 the Veterans Administration was placed under the same jurisdiction.

Subsequent to the Instruction Sollemne Semper (April 25, 1951), the Apostolic See, by the Decree Mysticam Petri Naviculam (September 8, 1957), formally erected the Military Vicariate to be united to the office of the Archbishop of New York. On December 15, 1975, a Coadjutor to the Military Vicar was appointed. Finally, by the Decree Apostolica Sedes (January 14, 1984), the Military Vicariate was established as an independent archdiocese, and the new Military Archbishop was installed on March 25, 1985.

I. The canonical or official name of the previously entitled Military Vicariate is Military Ordinariate. For suitable usage in the United States, the Military Ordinariate shall be known as The Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A.

II. The Military Ordinariate is governed by the norms of:

(a) The Apostolic Constitution Spirituali Militum Curae of April 21, 1986.
(b) These particular statutes approved by the Holy See.
(c) The universal laws of the Church even though not specified in the preceding documents.
(d) The particular laws of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

III. The seat and principal church of the Military Ordinariate are established in Washington, D.C. The Curia shall be located in Washington or its environs.

IV. The Military Ordinary shall be assigned archiepiscopal dignity and shall enjoy the rights and be held to the obligations proper to a diocesan bishop. Though directly subject to the Holy See, he is to participate in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

V. Unless the Apostolic See provide otherwise, Sede vacante vel impedita, the College of Consultors shall elect a Diocesan Administrator (cc. 412 to 430).

VI. A suitable number of Auxiliary Bishops shall be appointed, at the pleasure of the Apostolic See, to assist the Military Ordinary in his pastoral ministry and in the care of souls in this far-extended jurisdiction. The Auxiliary Bishops shall be appointed according to the pastoral necessity of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A. according to the norm of c. 403 §1.

VII. The Military Ordinary and the Auxiliary Bishops possess no military rank and require no Government approval for nomination.

VIII. The Military Ordinary freely appoints Vicars General, Episcopal Vicars, a Chancellor, and Vice Chancellors.

IX. The Military Ordinariate possesses its own proper Tribunal; the Judicial Vicar is appointed freely by the Military Ordinary. The Metropolitan Tribunal of New York serves as the local appellate tribunal.

X. The presbyterate of the Military Ordinariate is composed of those priests, either secular or religious, who, in the judgment of the Military Ordinary, are endowed with the qualities suited to the proper performance of this special pastoral work, and with the consent of their Ordinary, perform an office in the Military Ordinariate. The following are members of the Military Ordinariate:

(1) All priests who are called on a habitual basis to the office of military chaplain for the Armed Forces of the United States of America; also those called on a temporary basis, during the time that they render their services. These include active and reserve chaplains as well as other priests serving habitually the faithful in the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A.
(2) Priests who are chaplains of hospitals commonly called Medical Centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

XI. All priests serving in the Military Ordinariate shall give particular attention to pastoral programs, in which the laity are to be increasingly involved, directed to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life for men and women. Candidates to the priesthood from the military community, including but not limited to those specifically desiring to serve as military chaplains, shall be provided guidance and assistance by the Ordinariate in pursuing preparatory studies in seminaries available to such candidates.

XII. A Presbyteral Council, a College of Consultors, a Finance Council, and Review Board are established according to the norm of Canon Law. In observance of the Apostolic Constitution Spirituali Militum Curae, Art. VI §5, the relevant statutes are approved by the Military Ordinary, taking into account the norms issued by the Episcopal Conference.

XIII. The faithful of the Military Ordinariate, by the witness of their Christian lives and by carrying out their responsibilities in virtue of their rebirth in Christ in Baptism, cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ. They play their own part as an apostolic and even missionary leaven among the other military personnel with whom they are associated and lead their lives.

XIV. Every five years the Military Ordinary shall present a report on the state of the Ordinariate to the Apostolic See, according to the prescribed formula. The Military Ordinary is held to the obligations of the “visita ad limina,” according to the norm of law.

XV. Pastoral Councils are established, whenever possible, in every military installation and are normally presided over by the senior Catholic military chaplain or senior Catholic priest.

XVI. The following faithful in the Latin and Eastern Churches sui iuris are members of the Military Ordinariate:

(1) All the faithful who serve in the active-duty component of the military services of land, sea, air, or space; the faithful who serve in the Reserve component during the time that they render their service; or the faithful who are bound by the civil laws made for the same.
(2) The faithful who serve on active duty in the Coast Guard.
(3) The faithful who serve in the National Guard, Air National Guard, or Civil Air Patrol, while they are on active duty under a federal mandate.
(4) The faithful who habitually undertake a ministry in the Military Ordinariate, according to its particular law.
(5) The families of those listed in (1), (2), and (4), namely, the spouses, children, even those who, though independent, live in the same houses; also, relatives and domestics living as well in the same houses; likewise, the Catholic family of a non-Catholic service member under the same circumstances.
(6) All the faithful, including members of institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, who attend official military, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine academies, or who live in military or Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, or are engaged in the service of the same with residence there.
(7) All the faithful who dwell on military installations or in homes reserved by the civil government for military personnel and their families. Included are any Catholics, regardless of military affiliation or lack thereof residing in these same places.
(8) All the faithful who are employed overseas by the government of the United States, whether in a military-connected employment or otherwise; members engaged in diplomatic or similar missions in foreign countries; the members of the above-mentioned persons residing with them.

XVII. For priests serving the faithful in the Armed Forces, the subjects for marriage are those persons listed in Nos. 1–8 of XVI above, excluding members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; for Veterans Affairs chaplains, the subjects for marriage are residents and inpatients of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.

XVIII. The records of all sacraments celebrated on U.S. military installations anywhere in the world and Veterans Affairs hospitals, i.e., of baptisms, confirmations, receptions into full communion of the Catholic Church, marriages are sent by the sacramental minister whether a priest of the Military Ordinariate or civilian, to the Curia of the Military Ordinariate, where they are registered according to the norms of Canon Law. Also, other records of the Ordinariate are kept in the Curial archives.

XIX. These particular statutes shall take the force of law one month from the date of their approval by the Holy See and cannot be modified without its approval. The Military Ordinary, having heard the Presbyteral Council, can propose to Holy See any modifications deemed necessary.

These Statues were approved by the Apostolic See on 23 January 2021.