We often complain that the secular media does a poor job of covering religion in the news. GetReligion.org does a great job of even-handed critique of the secular press.
There is a story in the Wichita (Kansas) Eagle about a Vatican investigation of an alleged miracle through the intercession of Korean War army chaplain Fr. Emil Kapaun. The author of the article seems to understand Catholicism and is very balanced in his coverage.
Fr. Kapaun's story is an inspiring one:
Kapaun was a chaplain assigned to the U.S. Army's Eighth Cavalry regiment, which was surrounded and overrun by the Chinese army in North Korea in October and November 1951.
Kapaun became a hero, rescuing wounded soldiers from the battlefield and risking death by preventing Chinese executions of wounded Americans too injured to walk.
He became a hero again in prison camp, stealing food for prisoners, ministering to the sick, saying the rosary for soldiers, defying guards' attempts to indoctrinate soldiers, making pots and pans out of roofing tin so that soldiers could boil snow into drinking water and boil lice out of their filthy clothing.
Hundreds of American prisoners died in the camp of exposure or starvation or illness that first winter. The Chinese guards did nothing to tend Kapaun when he became sick; he died in May 1951, two years before the war ended.
Soldiers who survived have praised Kapaun for decades; some of them have said he deserved not only sainthood but the Medal of Honor, in addition to the lesser Distinguished Service Cross the Army awarded him after his death.
I also admired a prayer written to ask for Fr. Kapaun's intercession:
"Father Emil Kapaun gave glory to God by following his call to the priesthood and thus serving the people of Kansas and those in the military," the prayer says. "Father Kapaun, I ask your intercession not only for Chase Kear... but that I too may follow your example of service to God and my neighbor. For the gifts of courage in battle and perseverance of faith, we give you thanks oh Lord."
We face battles big and small each day, battles where we fight with little strength or battles we avoid altogether. A chaplain's sacrifice can be a good example to us to stay in the fight.
Hopefully we will hear more about Fr. Kapaun in the future.
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