|Fr William Doyle, |
Jesuit Mystic and Military Chaplain
One of the things Catholics can be most proud of is the heroic ministry of our military chaplains, particularly in times of war. Many of our priests have been killed on the field of battle as they brought the sacraments and consolation to soldiers as they died. Indeed Catholic chaplains have been acknowledged by many as being the one who took the greatest risks and were always to be found by their soldiers' sides in the heat of battle.
A number of such chaplains are now on the road to beatification as the Church discerns that they were sanctified through their heroic ministry and laid down their lives out of love for those they served. Among these we find the Servant of God Fr Vincent Capodanno, and the Servant of God, Fr Emile Kapaun, who was recently honoured by the US government and who may be beatified soon as a miracle has now been attributed to him. Of our Irish chaplains, Fr Willie Doyle, killed during the First World War, is the most universally honoured and invoked, although, strangely, a Cause has not been opened for him.
It seems this admiration of Catholic chaplains, and Christian chaplains, may well become a thing of the past, in the US military anyway, as some who see their ministry as a threat to secular values seem to be having their way in the Pentagon. According to Fox News, Christians in the military, chaplains among them, are to be prevented from speaking about their faith for fear that they may be proselytising. Reports say that this will become a crime in the military and those accused of it will find themselves before a court martial. There is even talk of "treason".
Is it possible that we are going back to the days of Ss Sebastian, George and the other soldier saints who were persecuted and convicted as treasonous simply because they were Christians? I hope not. Someone somewhere in the US military must have some common sense; let's hope it will prevail.
And let's hope our lot in power do not get to hear of this, they might get some bad ideas, and let's face it, they've had enough of them as it is.