The Catholic clergyman who oversees military personnel and their families took aim at the Biden administration’s abortion policies in a pastoral letter released last Friday.

Catholic Archbishop Timothy Broglio, of the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Services, condemned the U.S. Senate and Biden administration for defending a Department of Veterans Affairs policy that expanded abortion services to service members and veterans.

“The policy and rule, now in effect, are morally repugnant and incongruent with the Gospel which the faithful are commissioned to share throughout the world,” Broglio wrote. “Moreover, the new [Pentagon] policy and VA rule fail to incorporate basic conscience protections, thus creating First Amendment pitfalls for military commanders and VA employees.”

The VA did not respond to request for comment about Broglio’s remarks, nor did Pentagon spokesperson Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder respond to a question about the archbishop’s letter during a press conference.

“Archbishop Broglio regularly comments in his homilies, public statements, letters, and other communications on a wide range of issues involving Catholic teaching and the free exercise of Catholic faith,” a spokesperson for the Archdiocese told Military Times. “Issues that happen to be social or cultural are no exception.”

The letter from Broglio, who also serves as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, came almost two weeks after the Senate rejected an amendment from Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) to repeal the abortion policy. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine joined Democrats to vote down the amendment, while Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin broke with his party to support policy repeal.

Tuberville responded to the administration’s abortion policies by moving to halt all Pentagon confirmations and senior promotions starting in early March. Since then, the promotions of 186 uniformed and civilian nominees have been stalled. The Alabama senator said he has no intention of dropping his holds on the nominees.

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the Biden administration has sought to close gaps in abortion access for service members and veterans as a number of states have installed restrictions.

VA officials announced in September 2022 that its physicians would provide abortion services to veterans and eligible dependents in cases of rape, incest and pregnancies that endanger the life of the mother. The move would for the first time allow VA physicians to perform abortions on federal property — and in states that have banned or drastically reduced reproductive healthcare.

“Pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve to have access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement about the new policy. “That’s what our nation owes them, and that’s what we at VA will deliver.”

The Pentagon in February also said troops traveling to get an abortion or a fertility procedure would have fully paid travel expenses and three weeks leave, time that would also extend to the service member’s spouse.

Zamone “Z” Perez is a reporter at Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.

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