In September 1967, the native New Yorker, Father Vincent Capodanno — a Maryknoll priest known as “The Grunt Padre” — was wounded in Vietnam, but heroically and selflessly continued administering the last rites until he was killed by machine gun fire. (Details below.) For several years, people in the military and around the country have tried to advance his cause for sainthood.

This week, the Father Capodanno Guild released this news: 

The next step in the process for Father Capodanno’s Canonization has been for the Theological Consultants to examine Father Vincent’s Positio.  This review was planned for mid-May, and was completed as scheduled.

Unfortunately, the Theological Consultants have voted to recommend that the Cause should be suspended. While this is not what we have been praying for, it is not the end of our journey. Archbishop Broglio will be working with our Postulator, Dr. Gori, to lodge an appeal to the Congregation.

The Guild will do its best to share what we understand, but the situation is developing rapidly. As it develops, things will change. When you discuss this, please indicate the preliminary nature of this information.

The Theological Consultants are making a recommendation to the leaders of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. They do not have the final say for our Cause.

Because they do not have the final say, there is an opportunity for us to appeal.

Among the concerns mentioned:

  • Concern: The Positio focuses mainly on the last year of Father Vincent’s life. There is little record of the growth of his spirituality. Potential argument: His Cause is being submitted under the guidelines for the Freely Giving of One’s Life so focusing on the last year is appropriate.
  • Concern: Maryknoll has not pursued Father’s Cause. Potential argument: The reporting of potential intercessory gifts granted were sent to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. AMS picked up the Cause for one of their own Chaplains. Maryknoll is now supporting our efforts.
  • Concern: Father was fastidious about his appearance. Potential response: This reflects the strong Italian family that he grew up in and was reinforced by the Navy and Marine Corps. It is not an indication of sinful pride.
  • Concern: Father’s dissatisfaction with his assignment to Hong Kong indicates disobedience. Potential response: Father’s dislike of the assignment only emphasizes his obedience – he accepted the assignment. It was here that he first met our Service men and women from Vietnam and discerned a calling to service as a military chaplain. He obediently requested permission to transfer to the military.
  • Concern: With ongoing military actions in the world today (think Ukraine), raising someone from the military for veneration may not be appropriate for our Church. Potential response: 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.

Read the full report here. 

If you are unfamiliar with Father Capodanno’s life, here’s a good overview, which includes this citation for his Medal of Honor:

In response to reports that the 2d Platoon of M Company was in danger of being overrun by a massed enemy assaulting force, Lt. Capodanno left the relative safety of the company command post and ran through an open area raked with fire, directly to the beleaguered platoon.

Disregarding the intense enemy small-arms, automatic-weapons, and mortar fire, he moved about the battlefield administering last rites to the dying and giving medical aid to the wounded.

When an exploding mortar round inflicted painful multiple wounds to his arms and legs, and severed a portion of his right hand, he steadfastly refused all medical aid. Instead, he directed the corpsmen to help their wounded comrades and, with calm vigor, continued to move about the battlefield as he provided encouragement by voice and example to the valiant Marines.

Upon encountering a wounded corpsman in the direct line of fire of an enemy machine gunner positioned approximately 15 yards away, Lt. Capodanno rushed a daring attempt to aid and assist the mortally wounded corpsman. At that instant, only inches from his goal, he was struck down by a burst of machine gun fire.

By his heroic conduct on the battlefield, and his inspiring example, Lt. Capodanno upheld the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom.

He was declared a Servant of God in 2006.

Please take this opportunity to pray for all who serve in the military — and pray that if it be God’s will, this cause can continue.

Prayer for Patriot Day by Joseph R. Veneroso, M.M.

Used by permission of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers,
Maryknoll, New York. All rights reserved.

God of peace, You who weep
at the violence and wars between your children,
help us to walk in the footsteps of your Son.
In our darkest hour be our light
and show us the way to help those in greatest need.
Draw to Yourself those innocent victims who
find themselves surrounded by danger and destruction.
Hear the prayers of all who cry out to you for deliverance.
Through the intercession of Vincent Capodanno, Servant of God,
grant strength to the weak, courage to the fearful
and hope to those who mourn.
Above all, direct our hands this day to reach out and comfort
all who yearn for the coming of Your kingdom on earth.