The Service of Religious Assistance to the Spanish Armed Forces (SARFAS) celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Military Seminary also celebrated its fifth anniversary on April 18. The military archbishop, Mons. Juan del Río, explains the specific task of his archdiocese to guarantee religious assistance to military, police and their families.
– Enrique Carlier
In the context of the 25th anniversary of SARFAS and the Military Seminary, an emotional meeting was held on April 16 at the Military Archbishopric, attended by the rectors, formators and priests who have passed through the Military Seminary during its twenty-five years of existence. The meeting paid tribute to Cardinal José Manuel Estepa Llaurens, who established the military seminary and was also one of the drafters of the Apostolic Constitution. Spirituali militum curae.
This Constitution, which regulates the spiritual care of the military through the military ordinariates, was signed by St. John Paul II on April 21, 1986.
On April 17, coinciding with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Bishop del Río presided over the ordination of a new military priest.
About SARFAS, the military seminary and the peculiar pastoral task carried out by the military archbishopric, we talked with the head of this ecclesiastical circumscription: Archbishop Juan del Rio. He receives us in his office on Nuncio Street, where there is an image of the Macarena that points to the archbishop's Sevillian past, which is confirmed when we hear his clear Andalusian accent.
What exactly is SARFAS?
This is the Service of Religious Assistance to the Armed Forces. It was established by Royal Decree 1145 of September 7, 1990, and develops the agreement between the Holy See and the Spanish State on religious assistance to the Armed Forces of January 3, 1979.
The military archbishopric provides the part of this service that assists religiously and spiritually the Catholic members of the Armed Forces and the Police.
What is new about SARFAS compared to the configuration of the former Army Ecclesiastical Corps?
-SARFAS is the result of an important step that was taken in 1990 when the former chaplains of the ecclesiastical corps, who were then military, moved to a new configuration. It emphasizes more the pastoral aspects of the military chaplain and the presence of the Catholic Church in the Armed Forces.