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Chaplain for Coast Guard 7th District Fired, Marking Latest High-Profile Dismissal for Service in Recent Weeks

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The Coast Guard said Tuesday that the chaplain serving its 7th District was fired due to a “loss of confidence” in his abilities to fulfill his duties — the second chaplain fired by the service in recent weeks.

Navy Cmdr. Cristiano DeSousa, a Presbyterian chaplain, was relieved by the 7th District commander for what a Coast Guard official described as “poor judgment and performance constituting a breach of trust with the workforce.”

The chaplain position provides pastoral care to roughly 9,000 members and is a trusted adviser to the commander, 7th District Public Affairs Officer Lt. Cmdr. John Beal said.

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But DeSousa’s performance breached that trust, Beal said.

“His performance undermined his position of leadership and authority, and the Coast Guard has higher expectations of officers in these key leadership positions,” Beal said in a statement Wednesday to Military.com.

The relief is the second of a Coast Guard chaplain in less than a month and the third of a high-profile Coast Guard member during the same time period.

The Coast Guard relieved the chaplain of the Coast Guard, Navy Capt. Daniel Mode, on April 24, also citing “loss of confidence in his abilities to fulfill his duties.”

According to the service, Mode failed to take action when he was made aware of sexual misconduct by another chaplain that had taken place prior to the other chaplain joining the Navy and serving in the Coast Guard.

And Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve Timothy Beard was temporarily relieved May 3 while the service investigated alleged inappropriate misconduct.

The Coast Guard announced May 15 that Beard’s firing was permanent, citing “loss of confidence in his judgment and ability to fulfill his assigned duties.”

Beal said DeSousa’s relief is unrelated to Mode’s removal.

Coast Guard chaplains are Navy officers. DeSousa will be reassigned to the Navy Chaplain Corps, where the service will determine his professional future.

DeSousa had served as 7th District chaplain, based in Miami, Florida, since July 2023. Beal said the district chaplain position will remain unfilled until a permanent replacement is named.

A Navy spokeswoman said that as a matter of policy, the “Navy does not comment or speculate on any pending administrative and disciplinary actions or internal personnel movement.”

“The relief is based on the Coast Guard’s loss of confidence in Commander DeSousa’s ability to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of this key leadership position,” said Lt. Lauren Larar with the Navy’s Office of Information.

DeSousa earned his commission in 2006 and a master’s degree in theology from Duke University in 2018. He has served with Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard units and previously was assigned as chaplain for the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Okinawa, Japan, according to press releases.

Related: Chaplain of the Coast Guard Fired for ‘Loss of Confidence’ After Not Acting on Case of Sexual Misconduct

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