The diocesan bishop of the archdiocese is the Archbishop for the Military Services. The current archbishop is Timothy P. Broglio. He is assisted by several auxiliary bishops. Together they oversee Catholic priests serving as military chaplains throughout the world. None of the priests of the Archdiocese are incardinated in the Archdiocese. Each of its priests remains incardinated in his diocese or religious institute. The Archdiocese maintains its offices in Washington, D.C., but has no territorial boundaries or "seat". The Archdiocese has no cathedral or bishop's church. Rather, the Archdiocese has jurisdiction wherever American men and women in uniform serve. The jurisdiction of the Archdiocese extends to all United States government property in the United States and abroad, including U.S. military installations, embassies, consulates and other diplomatic missions.
Prior to the creation of the Military Ordinariate and then the Archdiocese for the Military Services, the armed forces of the United States was served by an informal corps of volunteer priests. Beginning in 1917, the spiritual care of those in military service fell to the Military Ordinariate, the equivalent of a personal vicariate apostolic, that is, a particular church the membership of which is defined by some personal quality (as in this case being a member or a dependent of a member of the armed services) that is headed by a legate of the pope. Originally, the ordinariate was headed by then-Bishop Patrick J. Hayes, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York who served double duty as papal military vicar for the United States beginning on November 24, 1917.
Hayes was chosen because New York was the primary port of embarkation for U.S. troops leaving for Europe and therefore a convenient contact point for Catholic chaplains serving with them. When Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, died, Hayes was appointed as his successor and simply kept the additional title and duty of military vicar. In November 1939, the Holy See established the Military Vicariate of the United States of America. The post remained an additional duty of the archbishop of New York from Hayes' time until Cardinal Terence Cooke began plans to separate it as its own jurisdiction in the early 1980s, plans he was unable to carry out before his death in 1983. His successor, Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor, a former Navy chaplain, former chief of Navy chaplains (the military's title for its own senior chaplain officer) and former auxiliary bishop for the military, then assisted in creating the separate Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, in 1985 and participated in the selection of its first own archbishop. On July 21, 1986, the military vicariate was elevated to the Military Ordinariate of the Archdiocese for the Military Services of the United States. As of April 2013, about 25% of the U.S. armed forces are Catholic.
* O'Hara was appointed "military delegate" at the same time that Spellman was appointed "military vicar," essentially making Bishop O'Hara something a bit more than the vicar general under then-Archbishop Spellman's jurisdiction.
The Geneva Conventions state (Protocol I, 8 June 1977, Art 43.2) that chaplains are noncombatants: they do not have the right to participate directly in hostilities. Captured chaplains are not considered Prisoners of War (Third Convention, 12 August 1949, Chapter IV Art 33) and must be returned to their home nation unless retained to minister to prisoners of war.
Francis P. Duffy – Chaplain for the 69th Infantry Regiment (a military unit from New York City and part of the New York Army National Guard) – known as "The Fighting 69th" – which had been federalized and redesignated the 165th U.S. Infantry Regiment.
John Joseph Mitty – Chaplain; in 1919, he was assigned as Catholic chaplain at the U.S. Military Academy; during his tenure at West Point, General Douglas MacArthur served as superintendent.
^Hayes was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York on July 3, 1914, by Pope Pius X. On November 24, 1917, he was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Military, USA, because New York was the primary port of embarkation for U.S. troops leaving for Europe and therefore a convenient contact point for Catholic chaplains serving with them. On March 10, 1919, he was appointed the fifth archbishop of New York and retained the additional title and duty of military vicar. Pope Pius XI created him a cardinal on March 24, 1924.
^Spellman was appointed by Pope Pius XII as the sixth archbishop of New York on April 15, 1939, and was formally installed as archbishop on May 23. In addition to his duties as diocesan bishop, he was named Apostolic Vicar for the U.S. Armed Forces on December 11, 1939. He was created a cardinal on February 18, 1946.
^O'Hara was elected the vice president of the University of Notre Dame in 1933, and its president in 1934. President Franklin D. Roosevelt named him a delegate to the 1938 Pan-American Conference in Lima, Peru. On December 11, 1939, he was appointed Apostolic Delegate for the U.S. Military Forces and Titular Bishop of Milasa by Pope Pius XII. He was consecrated a bishop on January 15, 1940, by then-Archbishop Spellman. President Roosevelt later appointed him to the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Naval Academy, becoming the first Catholic bishop to be so honored. On March 10, 1945, he was named bishop of Buffalo and was installed on May 8. On November 23, 1951, he was named archbishop of Philadelphia. He was created a cardinal on December 15, 1958.
^Cooke was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York on September 15, 1965, by Pope Paul VI. He was consecrated a bishop on December 13. He was named the seventh archbishop of New York on March 2, 1968. In addition to his duties in New York, he was named Vicar Apostolic for the U.S. Military on April 4. He was created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI on April 28, 1969.
^ abcRyan was a Navy chaplain from 1943 to 1946 and took part in the Marine landing at Okinawa. He served as chancellor of the U.S. Military Vicariate from 1957 to 1958. On February 7, 1966, he was appointed the first archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska, by Pope Paul VI. He was consecrated a bishop on March 25 by Cardinal Spellman. On November 4, 1975, Ryan was named coadjutor archbishop for the Military Vicariate and Titular Archbishop of Gabii. After the death of Cardinal Cooke, Pope John Paul II elevated the Military Vicariate (which had been run by the Archdiocese of New York) to the rank of an archdiocese and named Ryan the first archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, on March 16, 1985.
^McCarty was appointed auxiliary bishop for the U.S. Armed Forces and Titular Bishop of Anaea on January 2, 1943, by Pope Pius XII. He was consecrated a bishop on January 25 by then-Archbishop Spellman, with Bishop John Francis O'Hara serving as a co-consecrator. On April 10, 1947, he was named coadjutor bishop of Rapid City, So. Dak.
^Furlong was chaplain, with the rank of major, for the 8th Regiment of the New York National Guard from 1943 to 1948. On December 3, 1955, he was appointed auxiliary bishop to the US Military Vicariate, a responsibility at the time of the archbishop of New York. New York Cardinal Archbishop Francis Spellman ordained Furlong bishop on January 25, 1956. After the death of Cardinal Spellman on December 2, 1967, Furlong served as administrator of the military vicariate until the appointment of then-Archbishop Terence Cooke as the new military vicar on April 4, 1968. Furlong retired as auxiliary bishop of the vicariate in 1971 at age 78.