How very proud we should be to see a Priest, Army Chaplain, and a brother Knight receive the Congressional Medal of Honor! It was so good to see, Father Emil Kapaun, a simple priest from the Midwest receive the highest military honor, posthumously, from the President of the USA some 60 years later after the Korean war--it was Divine Providence. It was shameful however, that one had to go onto YouTube to actually see the presentation of the Medal but the media of late has never been friendly toward our Church, especially the Priesthood.
That being said, for me as a retired Air Force Chaplain to see not one but two priests: Frs. Capodanno USN (Vietnam) and Kapaun USA (Korea) honored by our Nation but whose causes are up for Beatification makes me both proud to have served my country during time of war (Desert Storm) and to be a Priest for my men in uniform. Father Emil was a correctly called a "Priest in the Army" an officer second. Father Kapaun died for his men in arms without thinking about himself and ultimately gave his life for his comrades in arms. Yes, doing ordinary things extraordinarily is the quick definition of being a Saint of God, and this Fr. Emil, is a true Catholic Chaplain who working with God's Grace performed miracles in the field. These holy Catholic Priest-Chaplains, broke old barriers of religious bigotry and prejudice when they (Kapaun and Cappadonno) ministered to all troops Catholic and non Catholic with the same apostolic zeal equally rendered. I would be almost certain that not just religious barriers were conquered but many conversions after these wars happened, thanks to "A ministry of Presence!"
When I was a Chaplain, I tried my very best to be all things to all men and women in uniform, and this I learned from the lives of these Saintly Catholic Chaplains above. Oh how we most desperately need good holy priests in the Military now, especially in places like Afghanistan, were militant Islamists still reign, and Christianity is despised. But, this is were the church does her best work, ministering to our troops in the mountains and desert, and even helping defenseless women and children who are victims to terrorists. Our church has always done well under persecution and wars and has come out the stronger. We must at the same time support Priestly-Vocations in recruiting young men for the priesthood. Perhaps we can get one out of an ordination class to consider being a chaplain in the Armed Forces, that would be my job... We are certainly blessed at present to have Father John Ruddermann who is going into the U.S. Air Force chaplain program. He will be a most welcomed addition to the chaplain corps in that at present our Chaplain Corps (all services ) are dominated by Protestant and strange fundamental and obscure new religions who know nothing about our church or its Sacramental nature. It makes it incredibly difficult for a young Catholic Chaplain with low rank to be heard at the table of "command"
In conclusion then, we look at who are winning awards for heroism in the field 90% are the brave Catholic Chaplains who go way over and beyond the call of duty not to win medals but to save souls and lives. The late great General Chesty Puller, USMC of the Korean War vintage once said "I want a Catholic Priest with me in the front lines, they take of my Marines body and soul and don't think of anything else!"
Semper Fi and God Bless,
Rev. Monsignor Karl A. Chimiak FF
Chaplain USAF ret.