I am very disappointed in the setback for the cause for canonization of Fr. Vincent Capodanno, a Maryknoll missionary priest and chaplain to Marines in Vietnam where he was killed on September 4, 1967.

I have followed this cause for years, written about it, and travelled to places that were associated with Fr. Capodanno, including Vietnam.  (Fr. Vincent Capodanno | Joan’s Rome (

I have tons of videos from Vietnam, including the field where he was killed. Videos of Masses in churches and one of a Mass in the home and surrounding farmland of a Catholic peasant family in the countryside, not far from Danang. I even met a Vietnamese in his 90s who knew Fr. Capodanno!

On my 2013 visit to Vietnam with the late Ted Bronson, an on-fire believer in the cause for Fr. Capodanno. I am with the then bishop of Danang as a Mass was celebrated to mark an anniversary of Fr. Capodanno’s priestly ordination.

You might have recently read articles about this setback. Catholic News Agency did a story (In Rome, a setback for Father Vincent Capodanno sainthood cause – Catholic World Report) in which we read: “At the Vatican, the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints is responsible for canonization decisions. In May, an advisory panel of theological consultants considered the “positio” document prepared by the postulator and its arguments in favor of and against Capodanno’s beatification. The consultants voted to recommend to the dicastery that Capodanno’s cause be suspended.”

We also read that one of the consultants for the theological commission studying Fr. Capodanno’s life, work and writings, said, “With ongoing military actions in the world today (think Ukraine), raising someone from the military for veneration may not be appropriate for our Church.”

To this, the guild responded: “No one likes war especially those who serve their countries in them. One of the most important things for these serving men and women is to have access to the Sacraments. Our chaplains selflessly give of themselves to provide these Sacraments. Pope Francis pushes strongly to ensure that chaplain priests are available for militaries.”

The Archdiocese for the Military Services is responsible for launching Fr. Capodanno’s canonization cause. Both the archdiocese and the Father Capodanno Guild, a private Catholic association that promotes the priest’s canonization cause, responded to the consultants’ recommendation to suspend the beatification cause. (You can read those in the above link).

I did a lot of thinking after reading the opinion of the consultant(s). There are obviously a thousand things I do not know about Fr. Capodanno’s life and writings and work, things the Vatican experts and consultants have been studying for some time.

However, this one particular reason really struck me: Fr. Capodanno should not be a saint because he was a military chaplain?

Does the name Fr. Angelo Roncalli ring a bell? In the three years following the outbreak of the First World War in 1915, he worked as a chaplain with the rank of sergeant in the care of wounded soldiers in the hospitals of Bergamo. In July of 1918, he agreed to serve the soldiers suffering from tuberculosis, knowingly risking his life with the danger of contagion. ( (also this fascinating and brief report from Vatican radio archives: Pope Saint John XXIII as military chaplain (

Fr. Roncalli became Cardinal Roncalli, archbishop of Venice, and in 1958 was elected to the papacy, taking the name Pope John XXIII. He was canonized along with Pope John Paul in 2014.

Was his military chaplaincy even a consideration in his cause? It might have even been an important thread in the rich tapestry of the life story of this humble son of farmers.

And this all brings me to ask: What about the cause of Fr. Emil Kapuan?

Fr. Kapuan, a native of Kansas, was a Catholic priest who served as a United States Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War. Kapaun was a chaplain in the Burma Theater of World War II, then served again as a chaplain with the U.S. Army in Korea, where he was captured.

As the website dedicated to him says: A Life of Hope and Mercy. From the plains of Kansas to the battlefields of Korea, Father Emil J. Kapaun embodied what it means to live in service to others. Follow his story of selfless sacrifice and strength, and learn why today Father Kapaun is a candidate for Sainthood.

Will experts and consultants now take a second look at his life?!



From the U.S. Military Archdiocesan website:

WASHINGTON, D.C.—An archdiocesan tribunal looking into whether the life of Vietnam War hero and U.S. Navy Chaplain Father Vincent R. Capodanno, M.M., merits consideration for sainthood by the Catholic Church has wrapped up its nearly four-year inquiry. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, declared the archdiocesan phase of the Cause closed in an announcement on Sunday at the end of the 23rd annual Memorial Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The decision clears the way for the tribunal’s findings to go to the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints for review and a possible decision on whether to advance the Cause to the next stage of consideration.

I am so excited about this story as I have followed the cause of Fr. Vincent Capodanno for a number of years now. I’ve participated in several events and Masses commemorating him in Italy, and I went to Vietnam in 2013 to see where he served as a Catholic Maryknoll chaplain – called “the Grunt Padre” – and where he died. I attended a memorial Mass in his honor in DaNang in Sacred Heart Cathedral that was packed  – SRO! – with vibrant Catholic Vietnamese faithful. I posted a ton of videos and photos at the time – Vietnam was an awesome visit from a spiritual and a personal standpoint.

Ted and I with the then Bishop of DaNang, Joseph Tri

Sacred Heart Cathedral in DaNang

A Vietnamese St. Joseph and Jesus

Mass celebrated in a parishioner’s house near spot where Fr. Capodanno died

This man knew Fr. Capodanno!

Just a few hundred yards from where Fr. Capodanno died Sept. 4, 1967

Now I want to go back because a number of us want to help build a chapel to honor him in the very Catholic village where he died. My friend in D.C., retired Navy Captain Ted Bronson, has spearheaded many of these tributes and was instrumental in persuading me to go to Vietnam in 2013. He is also a prime mover in an attempt to work with the Church and government in Vietnam to build this chapel.  More about that story as time goes on!

A few more of the hundreds and hundreds of pix that I took:

Our Lady of La Vang at a statue makers factory. Her shrine north of DaNang is the equivalent of a Guadalupe for Vietnamese!

Loved this little one –

One way to get around in Vietnam

The announcement occurred on Memorial Day. To read more:

And here’s a great piece in CRUX:


Archbishop Timothy Broglio has formally closed the archdiocesan phase of the cause of canonization for Father Vincent Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest and Navy chaplain killed during a fierce battle in Vietnam almost 50 years ago at the age of 38. The chaplain was nicknamed the “Grunt Padre,” because of his personal care for and ministry to the “grunts,” meaning members of the infantry.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CRUX) – For many Americans, Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer, a time when pools open and families celebrate backyard barbecues.

But for Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the military archdiocese in the United States, “Memorial Day now has a face. It’s a face that I recognize. You meet the relatives, the spouses and parents of men and women who have died as a result of combat,” he told Crux in an interview. “Also, you meet countless young men and women who are willing to take the risks to serve our country.”

When people lose a loved one in combat, “you always sense the loss,” he said.

Some day, Memorial Day may also have a patron saint, especially for those killed or wounded in action, for their families, and for military chaplains and those they serve.

At the end of the Military Archdiocese’s 23rd annual Memorial Day Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Broglio formally closed the archdiocesan phase of the cause of canonization for Father Vincent Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest and Navy chaplain killed during a fierce battle in Vietnam almost 50 years ago, on Sept. 4, 1967 at the age of 38. Now the cause goes on to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

For the rest of this fascinating CRUX story, click here: