Maryknoll Father Vincent R. Capodanno, a Navy chaplain who was killed while serving with the Marines in Vietnam, is pictured in an undated photo.
Maryknoll Father Vincent R. Capodanno, a Navy chaplain who was killed while serving with the Marines in Vietnam, is pictured in an undated photo.

Vietnam War hero Maryknoll Father Vincent R. Capodanno, a Catholic U.S. Navy chaplain killed in action in Vietnam in 1967 while supporting Marines under enemy gunfire, could well serve as a good example for the Church as it deals with the abuse crisis, according to the archbishop for the Military Services, USA.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio made that observation in his homily Sept. 4 at a memorial Mass for the slain priest on the 51st anniversary of his death in combat. “He cared for the vulnerable,” Archbishop Broglio said, “because the Marines were under attack. He imitated his Lord by giving his life so that others might live.”

About 400 people attended the Mass to pray for the priest who has been declared a Servant of God. The congregation included members of Father Capodanno’s extended family, active-duty and retired servicemen and women, and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy.

Dozens of military chaplains, clergy of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and other priests joined Archbishop Broglio at the altar to concelebrate the Mass.

Father Capodanno, a Maryknoll missionary and Navy lieutenant from Staten Island, NY, died after sustaining multiple gunshots in Vietnam’s Que Son Valley as he moved fearlessly around a live battlefield unarmed and administering the sacraments to embattled U.S. Marines, encouraging those waging the fight, and pulling the wounded to safety.

In January 1969, Father Capodanno posthumously received the Medal of Honor – the nation’s highest military decoration – and in May 2006, the Catholic Church declared him a Servant of God, formally initiating his cause for canonization.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services is the promoter of Father Capodanno’s cause. Last year, a special tribunal appointed by Archbishop Broglio to look into the case completed its inquiry and sent its findings to the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which will decide whether to let the Cause go forward to the next stage of consideration.