PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The cause for sainthood for Maryknoll Father Vincent Capodanno, a U.S. Navy chaplain killed ministering to wounded Marines on a Vietnam War battlefield, has moved slightly forward, say those advocating canonization for the man they called the “grunt padre.”
Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA, will appoint a three-member historical commission to help address issues that have slowed the canonization cause for Father Capodanno, who was a native of Staten Island.
Father Capodanno died in September 1967 while helping wounded U.S. Marines and sailors during a pitched battle against communist troops. His heroism earned him the Medal of Honor, and his cause for canonization opened in 2002.
Last summer, however, theological consultants recommended the suspension of this cause to get more details about Father Capodanno’s life story and spirituality.
For example, the consultants felt there was insufficient information supporting the standard that Father Capodanno lived a “virtuous life.” They also suggested that the priest’s often fastidious appearance could have been a sign of sinful pride and that venerating someone from the military might be inappropriate for the Church while wars persist in the world.
Vice Adm. (Retired) Stephen Stanley is chairman of the board of directors for the Father Capodanno Guild. He said on Jan. 9 that Archbishop Broglio went to Rome in mid-November to meet with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.
Archbishop Broglio is the “petitioner” for Father Capodanno’s sainthood cause. Also, he recently became president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
However, Stanley told The Tablet that the archbishop briefed him after the meeting with Cardinal Semeraro about the consultants’ concerns.
“The meeting was cordial and positive,” Stanley said. “It resulted in the prefect giving us the opportunity to respond formally and provide additional information about Father Vincent’s lifelong development of virtue and spirituality that led to the freely giving of his life on the battlefield.
“[The consultants] didn’t see the information that supported the growth of sanctity. That’s what they’re looking for.” Thus, Archbishop Broglio will establish the commission to search for more information that would support the cause, Stanley said.
“The commission will have three members,” Stanley said. “They will conduct the research and assemble the documentation. This supplemental information would focus on this area that was found deficient.”
Of particular interest would be new testimonies from people who knew Father Capodanno in his youth, said Stanley, who lives in Waterford, Virginia.
“That would actually be up in New York — people who knew him before Vietnam,” Stanley said. “We already have a lot of information from Marines who were with him in Vietnam. That part of his life is well defined.”
Stanley said Archbishop Broglio is moving with urgency, although the full commission is not yet appointed, and its work could be lengthy.
“This won’t happen in just a few weeks,” Stanley said. “This is going to take some time.” Meanwhile, he urged everyone concerned about Father Capodanno to keep praying for his cause for sainthood.
He added that the guild is ready to share resources for group presentations at parishes, women’s groups, Knights of Columbus councils, and veteran’s groups.
For information, visit capodannoguild.org.