Top officials of the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops' military ordinariate have met with Department of the Army authorities to protest a change in Army policy with regard to "denominational balance portrayed in leadership positions" in the chaplain corps.
The meetings followed an investigation launched by Terrence Cardinal Cooke of New York, the Catholic Church's military vicar, after the Army's Catholic deputy chief of chaplains had been replaced with a Protestant. The appointment meant that for the first time since the early 1940s, no Catholic chaplain would be represented in the Army chaplaincy's two top executive positions.
In a letter to all Army chaplains, Cardinal Cooke said, "While recognizing that the Protestant chaplain selected for deputy is an outstanding minister (the Rev. Kermit Johnson, a Presbyterian chaplain recently confirmed as Army deputy chief of chapalins), I was very disturbed at the major shift in policy which this selection represents."
Both the navy and Air Force currently have a Catholic priest as chief of chaplains with a Protestant minister as deputy chief. In August, the Air Force is scheduled to promote its Protestant deputy to the chief's post with a Catholic replacement as deputy.
Following Cardinal Cooke's letter, Archbishop Joseph T. Ryan, coadjutor archbishop to the military vicar, met with Secretary of the Army Clifford A. Alexander and more recently with Alexander's top aides.