Sunday, November 27, 2016

(182) Poland, Peru, and the Ukraine Consecrate Their Countries to God


Public Consecrations of countries to God in which political leaders have a role are unprecedented in modern times, but recently three sovereign nations have done so.  That gives hope for the world that is rapidly sliding into materialistic secularism……Poland, Peru, and the Ukraine for a start, and the Church in Russia is beginning to bloom. 




















         Poland Recognizes Christ as Their King

        
        Historically, Poland has been a staunchly Catholic country, strong even under Communism.  However, as a member of the very secular European Union, it had been slipping.  Ten years ago while my wife was taking care of her ailing father, I taught at a local college and my four kids were going to a Polish school.  From my reading about a failed Polish parliamentary resolution I asked about the idea of declaring Christ the King of Poland among priests and others.  There didn’t seem to be much interest.  One priest was hung up about separation of Church and state.    

But to my surprise a week ago on November 19, the eve of the great Feast of Christ the King, during a solemn ceremony at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, the Catholic bishops of Poland officially recognized Christ as King of Poland.  Furthermore, the consecration was carried out in the presence of Polish President Andrzej Duda, implying presidential approval.  The consecration Mass was officiated by St. Pope John Paul’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.  On the actual feast, the Polish people followed that up by consecrating Poland and themselves to Christ the King in every parish in the country after a novena of preparation. See http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/christ-recognized-as-king-of-poland and http://www.sspx.org/en/news-events/news/polish-recognition-christ-king and also http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/michael-w-chapman/polish-bishops-and-president-duda-declare-christ-king-poland.

Christ the King has a biblical basis.  It was prophesied several times, especially in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah that the Messiah would be a king in the royal line of David and His kingdom would last forever.  In Luke 1:31-33 of the New Testament the Archangel Gabriel says to Mary: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
By his presence at the Consecration Mass the President of Poland Andrzej Duda
 gives official recognition of Christ as King of Poland.

The action of the Polish bishops is consistent with Pope Pius XI's 1925 encyclical "Quas Primas," which solidified the devotion to Christ the King and established the feast.  He wrote: "When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony………Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience…….Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ."     See http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_11121925_quas-primas.html.

This encyclical was Pius XI’s response to growing nationalism and secularism…….the promotion of human development through material means with no role for faith, religion, or belief in God.  In secular states, there may be freedom of worship within the home or church building, but freedom of religion outside of the church building to practice the faith, follow basic beliefs, and have an influence in the public square through its own publications, schools, hospitals, etc. is restricted if not eliminated.  Secularism breeds an erosion of basic God given freedoms and rights. 
  
The official statement/prayer of the Episcopate of Poland regarding the act of recognition of Christ as King of Poland reads as follows:

 “We profess in face of God and Earth, that we need your rule. We profess, that you and only you have holy rights to us that never expired. Therefore with humility we bend our heads to you, The Lord of the Universe, and we recognize your rule over Poland and our whole nation, that lives in the motherland and away in the wide world. Hereby Poland in the 1,050th anniversary of its baptism, solemnly recognizes the rule of Jesus Christ.”

This recognition of Christ as King of Poland complements the historical title of the Queen Mother Mary as Queen of Poland declared by King John Casimir in 1656 after 70 monks and 180 locals defended the Monastery of Jasna Góra that housed the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa against a Swedish force of 4,000. 

The defeat of radical Islam (the Ottoman Turks with 200,000 troops) on September 11, 1683 by King Sobieski and the repulsion of the invasion of over 100,000 Soviet troops on the Feast of the Assumption August 15, 1920 are attributed by Poles to Mary’s intercession.

Had the Ottoman Turks won in 1683, radical Islam would have  been largely unopposed in conquering Rome and fulfilling their dream of hoisting the Islamic flag over the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.  Today ISIS has the same dream and has made no secret of it. 

The Battle of Warsaw (1920) is often called the “Miracle on the Vistula” or in Polish “Cud nad Wisla”. Had the Soviets won in 1920 they could have advanced to the English Channel since the armies of Western Europe were exhausted and weak.  Then all of Europe would have been Communist at least for a time.  A Communist Reign of Terror ruled Hungary for six months in 1919 until repulsed by Admiral Horthy.  My father lived under it and shared his experience under it many times.

Clearly, God is in control of History. 
   
For more detail see my Blog #125 as well as http://www.motherofallpeoples.com/2009/09/mary-queen-of-poland/ and http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/czesto.htm for Mary Queen of Poland.   For the Battle of Vienna see  http://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-45.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_ViennaFor the Battle of Warsaw see http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/how-the-poles-saved-civilization-part-ii and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Warsaw_(1920)

Videos on the Battle of Vienna include a 49 minute documentary at   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc-RWtovrqg and a full length movie at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvoRuO3g9Ew.  The same is dubbed in Polish at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCr1TmqxO5Q.  Two fascinating videos on the Battle of Warsaw include https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SSaQbQiW9s, a documentary analysis of the battle.   A full length movie on the Battle of Warsaw in Polish can be found at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksf7fmTGuUc.  For a shorter 38 minute version of the same movie in Polish with English subtitles, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4I61EkSdgg

Consecration of Perú

        A month before the President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (78), an alumnus of both Oxford and Princeton, former functionary of the World Bank, successful investment banker in the United States, and economist, officially consecrated Peru to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the National Prayer Breakfast on October 21, 2016 in Lima.  Interesting is that the President of Peru is the son of Polish/German father and French mother who immigrated to Perú.  Having Jewish roots and a renowned pathologist, they had fled Nazism in 1933.  See http://perureports.com/pedro-pablo-kuczynski/  and   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Pablo_Kuczynski.
        
The purpose of the annual prayer breakfast in Peru is to bring a message of optimism and reconciliation.  Kuczynski was the first Peruvian president to attend one of the 21 breakfasts to date.  This year’s theme was the “Mercy of the Love of God”.





























In his speech, Kuczynski proclaimed: "By the authority vested in me, I make an act of consecration of myself, my family and the Republic of Peru to the love and protection of Almighty God through the intercession of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I place in your loving hands my government with all of its workers and citizens that are under my responsibility. I offer to God Almighty my thoughts and decisions as President so that I may use them for the good of our country and always be conscious of the Ten Commandments in governing it.” He asked for God’s forgiveness “for all the transgressions I may have committed in the past, all those committed by the Republic in the past, and for all those decisions that may have been made contrary to his commandments and I ask for his help in changing everything that separates us from Him.  For more detail in Spanish, see http://diocesisdecelayamx.blogspot.com/2016/10/video-presidente-kuczynski-consagra-el.html and the video of the consecration speech http://aciprensamx.blogspot.com/2016/10/video-presidente-kuczynski-consagra-el.html and http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/peruvian-president-consecrates-nation-to-sacred-heart-immaculate-heart-23070/ as well as http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/peru-consecrated-to-the-sacred-and-immaculate-hearts in English.  


  I’m especially proud of Perú because I spent 14 years (1965 – 1982) of my life in Arequipa, teaching at the universities of Santa María and San Agustín.  Hundreds of missionaries from all over the world gave their lives to Perú…….USA, Spain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Malta, etc.  I would like to think that the Lord used us to make a difference, small but significant.  What a privilege!
Consecration of Ecuador


     The action of Kuczynski has one precedent in neighboring Ecuador more than a century before.  The then Ecuadorian president Gabriel Garcia Moreno consecrated Ecuador to the Sacred Heart on March 25, 1874.  Ecuador's official act of consecration reads: "Prostrate before your divine presence, all the public powers of the Church and of the State offer and consecrate to Thee now and for always the Republic of Ecuador as Thy exclusive possession and property."  This consecration is enshrined in Ecuador's constitution:
Art. 1: The Republic of Ecuador consecrates itself to the Holy Heart of Jesus, proclaiming it as Patron and Protector.
Art. 2: The Feast of that same Sacred Heart of Jesus is prescribed as a civil first-class holy day, to be observed in every cathedral of this Republic by diocesan prelates with all possible ceremony. 

Consecration of the Ukraine

            On October 23, 2016 the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, at a ceremony held at Fatima consecrated the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 


His words in Fatima are as follows:  “Mary, we stand today before your countenance and consecrate to your Immaculate Heart and place under your protection the Ukraine and other Eastern European nations and the world. We offer you all the pain and suffering of Ukraine, because only through conversion and repentance comes peace. Receive our offering and save our people and our land and the world from sin and death.”  For greater detail see http://op54rosary.ning.com/forum/topics/ukraine-consecrated-to-the-immaculate-heart and http://news.ugcc.ua/en/news/the_head_of_the_ugcc_in_fatima_consecrated_ukraine_to_the_immaculate_heart_of_mary_77901.html.





































   The country is mired in a war since 2014 with ethnic Russian speaking Ukrainian separatists who with the help of Russia are bent upon having eastern Ukraine annexed to Russia.  The Ukraine had already been forcibly absorbed by the very repressive atheistic Soviet Union from 1919 to 1991, when it finally obtained its independence.  For more detail see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_Soviet_Socialist_Republic and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_pro-Russian_unrest_in_Ukraine.       

 In Russia of all places the faith is growing as never before since the consecration of Russia by St. Pope John Paul II in union with the bishops of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984……..the number of churches has increased from 400 to 30,000; monasteries from 22 to 800, and schools of theology from 0 to 100.  See http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2016/10/177-consecration-to-immaculate-heart.html for the time line after the consecration.

Not a Theocracy. The consecrations in Poland, Peru, Ecuador, and the Ukraine in no way mean any dictatorial theocracy like Sharia Law or a decrease in democracy.  All basic human rights remain and constitutional guarantees remain intact.  Man will always have a free will.  However, the people prayerfully place their countries in the hands of God, and entrust their nations to Him, asking for His guidance and protection.  They aspire to a mindset that prayerfully seeks the will of God in all policies and decision making as well as faithfulness to Him, His Ten Commandments, and the moral/social teachings of the Church which invariably have a biblical basis.  An individual or a Country can never go wrong by trusting in the will of God which is always for the best in the long run. 

The consecration may be to the Immaculate Heart, i.e., as most Catholics believe in the path to Jesus through Mary since her mission is to bring souls to her Son.  The Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart are united as one.  Thus her will is God’s will.  After all, Mary received her great mission from the Father to conceive by the Holy Spirit her spouse and give birth to the Son of God.   
A Country faithful to its consecration has a much better chance for social order, tranquility, and  just socioeconomic development within its borders than under secularism and the chaotic moral relativism where everybody does what is right in his/her own mind, the same mentality that led to the ruin of Sodom and Gomorra.

One can also make an individual consecration to Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort.  See http://www.iipg.org/consecration1.htm.

May other countries follow the example of Ecuador, Peru, the Ukraine, and Poland.  May these initial consecrations be part of a trend that will bring all nations back to God who loves us infinitely and thirsts for souls and their love.   

Sunday, November 20, 2016

(181) VIVA CRISTO REY: THOUSANDS DIED FOR THE FREEDOM TO PROCLAIM IT......The Role of the Knights of Columbus for Religious Liberty Against Persecution of the Church in Mexico

The persecutions in Mexico of the 1920s produced numerous saints.  Six of them were member were members of the Knights of Columbus.  They share the reliquary above.  It was financed by the Knights of Columbus of Mexico and donated to the Supreme Council.  It can be seen in the Knights of Columbus National Museum in its national headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut.


          Viva Cristo Rey!  Hail Christ the King!  This Sunday is the Feast
of Christ the King.  Pope Pius XI proclaimed the feast in 1925 in his
as a response to growing nationalism and secularism…….the promotion
of human development through material means with no role for faith,
religion, or belief in God.  In secular states, there may be freedom of 
worship within the home or church building, but freedom of religion 
outside of the church building to practice the faith, follow basic beliefs, 
and have an influence in the public square through its own publications, schools, hospitals, etc. is restricted if not eliminated.
 
In the United States secularism is growing at an alarming rate and indeed threatens religious freedom.  Catholic institutions are being forced to provide health insurance that includes coverage for sterilization, abortifacients, and in some cases abortion.  In the future the government’s version of political correctness could be imposed upon pastors even in homilies.  Western Europe is very secular; the European Union in its constitution refused to recognize the historical contribution of the Church to their civilization, institutions, and culture.  

 However, there is hope……Poland, Peru, and the Ukraine for a start, and Church in Russia is beginning to bloom.  Historically, Poland has been a staunchly Catholic country, strong even under Communism.  However, as a member of the very secular European Union, it had been slipping.  But yesterday, the eve of the  great Feast of Christ the King, during a solemn ceremony at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, the Catholic bishops of Poland officially recognized Christ as King of Poland.  The consecration was carried out in the presence of Polish President Andrzej Duda, implying presidential approval.  The consecration Mass was officiated by St. Pope John Paul’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.  Today, on the actual feast, the Polish people followed that up by consecrating Poland and themselves to Christ the King in every parish in the country after a novena of preparation.  See http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/christ-recognized-as-king-of-poland.  


A month before the President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, officially consecrated Peru at the National Prayer Breakfast on October 21, 2016 in Lima to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  The action echoes that Ecuadorian president Gabriel Garcia Moreno, who consecrated Ecuador to the Sacred Heart on March 25, 1874.  Two days later on October 23, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, at a ceremony held at Fatima consecrated the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. See  http://www.sspx.org/en/news-events/news/polish-recognition-christ-king.

 In Russia of all places the faith is growing as never before since the consecration of Russia by St. Pope John Paul II in union with the bishops of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984……..the number of churches has increased from 400 to 30,000; monasteries from 22 to 800, and schools of theology from 0 to 100.

          The Knights of Columbus was founded in the United States in 1882 and in Mexico in 1905.  By 1923 the latter had 43 councils and 6,000 members.  The Knights provide great fellowship while serving the parish 
and the community.  Its life insurance with a top financial rating at lower than commercial rates provides for the security of the families of its knights.  Any surplus is used for Knights of Columbus charities and rebates for its policy holders.  At the same time the Knights of Columbus promotes religious freedom, the traditional family and marriage, the right to life, 
and the spiritual formation of its members. 

The Cristero San Gaspar Regiment that fought against Mexican government troops.  Their battle cry was “Viva Cristo Rey”.  The Cristero War for religious freedom lasted for three years……1926 – 1929.  The primary target of the persecutions was priests. 

       In Mexico during the Cristero War (1926-1929), hundreds of knights gave their lives in the battle for religious freedom against intense persecution and six of them are saints.  Can that happen here?  Indifferent and lax Christians may not recognize the threat to religious freedom until they have lost it completely.  We must be vigilant and fight to maintain our religious liberty. 

In Mexico the Knights of Columbus helped to organize the main Catholic institutions into the League for the Defense of Religious Liberty.  The League raised the nation’s consciousness and demanded respect for human rights.  In the United States the Knights of Columbus provided aid for the exiled and the migrants.  They lobbied the Coolidge Administration and rallied public opinion in an education campaign, issuing 5 million pamphlets with eye witness accounts, to pressure the Mexican government to cease its intense persecution of the Catholic Church and  thousands of executions of its members, especially priests who were forbidden from even saying Mass.  As a result, President Plutarco Calles outlawed the Knights of Columbus and its members were singled out for persecution.  Pius XI publicly gave the Knights of Columbus special praise.

        Anybody repeating the rallying cry of the Cristeros, “Viva Cristo Rey” risked his life.  Priests and layman alike were forced to renounce Christ in public or face punishment, torture, or death.  The priest below was taken from the altar and shot in front of his own church.  See my blogs #42, #120, and #132 for greater detail on the Cristero War, Blessed Miguel Pro, and newly canonized St. José Sanchez del Rio, a martyr at the age of 14.



            In the year 2000 St. Pope John Paul II canonized 25 Mexican martyrs, mostly priests (see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saints_of_the_Cristero_War).  Six of them were members of the Knights of Columbus.  Their photos are above with a reliquary they share.  It was financed by the Knights of Columbus of Mexico and donated to the Supreme Council.  Their stories tell what the priesthood is all about.  As Fr. Juan Diego Brunetta said, their stories affirm the priesthood and the role of priest as servant to spread the good news.  

           St. Pope John Paul II said in his encyclical, “Ecclesia in America” (see https://www.ewtn.com/jp99/ecclesia.htm), “They stir us up to take up fearlessly and fervently today’s task of the new evangelization.” They continue to evangelize by inspiring us to be faithful Catholics.  Let’s review their heroic stories.


San José María Robles Hurtado inspired enthusiasm and devotion to the Sacred Heart in Tocolotlán.  While preparing for Mass he was arrested by government soldiers and led to his execution.  He knelt down in front of the firing squad, blessed his parish and his murderers, and forgave them.

San Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán delayed his escape from the Colegio de San Ignacio in Ejutla to destroy the seminary’s student enrollment records.  When asked to identify himself, he replied: “I am a priest”.  He blessed the noose of the rope and loudly forgave his executioners.  The officer in charge asked the priest, hanging from a mango tree in the town square:  “Who lives?”  “Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe” was the reply.   They lowered him three times and asked him the same question and got the same answer each time.

San Luis Batis Sainz dedicated himself to youth as pastor in Zacatecas.  In 1926 he was arrested with one of his aides, Manuel Morales.  He pleaded for the life of this layman for the sake of his family.  However, Morales said:  “I am dying for God, and God will care for my children.” Smiling, Father Bátis absolved his aide and said, “I’ll see you in heaven.”.  What faith!  Would we be up to that?

San Mateo Correa Magallanes was seized while bringing the Eucharist to a sick woman and sent to prison.  The commandante ordered him to hear confessions of the other prisoners.  Then he was ordered with a death threat to reveal what he heard from the penitants.  “I’ll never do that”,  repied the priest.  “I am willing to die”.  Absolutely nothing can justify a priest to break the sacred seal of confession.

San Miguel de la Mora would say Mass in secret.  He took part with other priests in a Holy Hour led by his Bishop after signing a rejection of the anti-Catholic laws.  After being taken to army headquarters, the Captain in charge shot the priest dead while praying the rosary in Tecalitlan, Jalisco.

San Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero promoted perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Mary.  After being exiled to Texas in 1937, he returned to administer the sacraments.  While distributing ashes on the first day of Lent, he was seized by a gang who beat him to a pulp with rifle butts and left him in a pool of blood.  His tombstone reads: “You are a priest”.
In 2005 Pope Benedict beatified 13 other martyrs, three of whom were members of the Knights of Columbus.  They include José Trinidad Rangel Montaño, a diocesan priest from León in San Felipe, Guanajuato; Andrés Sola Molist, a Spanish Claretian priest in León, Guanajuato; and Leonardo Pérez Larios, a layman.  The three were executed together in 1927.
Clearly, persecution and adversity breed heroism, holiness, and sanctity.  This era of persecution was probably the darkest chapter of Mexican history, yet perhaps  the most glorious.  The number of cannonized saints Mexico produced is incredible.  According to one story, a mystic asked Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico: “Where were you during all this time?”  Mary replied”  “I was there all the time”.  The title of the movie underwritten by the Knights of Columbus is so appropriate: “For Greater Glory” (available at ignatius.com).  They sacrificed all for greater glory.  Can we have that same priority amidst all of the distractions of ambition for prestige, promotion, and money?
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson affirmed: “The Order’s history is forever linked to the history of this great nation. ....... Loving God above all things and our neighbor as we love ourselves is the only response that we can give to Christ the King”.    See
 https://www.kofc.org/un/en/resources/communications/martyrs_booklet.pdf.

Links to My Articles on Mexico and the Cristero War

  • (132) Blessed José Sanchez del Rio: Boy Martyr & Real Soldier of Christ..........His Participation in the Cristero War & the Intense Persecution of the Church by the Government of Mexico

  • (120) The Cristero War: The Historical Context of "For Greater Glory", the Star Studded Movie

  • (104) Our Lady of Guadalupe (I): Binding the Americas Together

  • (105) Our Lady of Guadalupe (II): Mary's Message to us in the Image

  • (106) Review of the visit of the Pilgrim Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Marian Prayer Program of the Knights of Columbus at St. Louis Church Gallipolis December 11-16, 2012

  • (65) The Papal Volunteers for Latin America (PAVLA) After 50 Years V - Long Range Effects & What Are They Doing Now?  See also Blogs #61, 62, 63, and 64.

  • (42) Blessed Padre Miguel Pro S.J.: 20th Century Mexican Martyr for Christ the King


Thursday, November 10, 2016

(180) Army Capt. Fr. Emil Kapaun, the Most Decorated Chaplain in Military History

A painting depicting scenes from the life of U.S. Army Chaplain Capt. Fr. Emil Kapaun, a parish priest from 
Kansas who volunteered to serve in both World War II and in the Korean War.  Besides being
awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, his cause toward sainthood is advancing.  The example
of his sanctity and selflessness led 15 of his fellow prisoners to be converts to the Catholic Church.


          While his cause for canonization was advancing, the 
Venerable Servant of God Army Chaplain Captain Fr. Emil Kapaun
received posthumously from President Obama in 2013 the highest
United States Armed Forces award for heroism beyond the
call of duty…….the Congressional Medal of Honor.  True to the
highest ideals of the priesthood, giving himself completely to God
and His flock, Fr. Kapaun shepherded his men inside of a Chinese
prisoner of war camp in 1950 Pyoktong, North Korea.
   
A witness to his heroism is Mike Dowe, then a young lieutenant who was with him during the entire ordeal.  Chaplain Kapaun never returned home, but Dowe did and for decades worked for recognition of his shepherd: “He saved close to a thousand lives.  He did nothing, but look out for other people and would go around with total disregard for himself.” This year he would have been 100 years old. 
   
     First a little historical background for a grasp of the situation.  According to the allied agreements at the end of World War II and the
defeat of Japan in 1945, the Soviet Union occupied the northern half of
the Korean peninsula previously held by the Japanese since 1910 and the United States occupied the area south of the 38th Parallel.  The Soviets under the notorious Joseph Stalin immediately set up a Communist 
puppet government in the north and the United States helped the people
in the south to freely form a democracy, the Republic of Korea.  

          In June 1950 Communist North Korea with the support of the 
Soviet Union and Communist China invaded South Korea in order to 
unite the country under Communism.  The United States and 20 other countries sent troops under the banner of the United Nations to help 
the South Korean army in what President Harry Truman called a 
police action.  The Communists advanced quickly until the UN forces
 (88% American troops) were left with not much more than a beachhead, the Pusan Perimeter on the southeaster tip (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_War) and/or https://www.britannica.com/event/Korean-War.

          In September General Douglas MacArthur in a brilliant and bold move brought South Korea from the jaws of defeat to the brink of 
victory.  He engineered the amphibious UN counter-offensive at Inchon 
on the western coast a little below the 38th Parallel.  The North Korean army was cut off and many were taken prisoner.  The rest retreated to 
the Yalu River on China’s Manchurian border.  Apparently almost all 
of Korea was free.  There was talk about having our troops home by Christmas.  In October China entered the war with a horde of troops 
and crossed the Yalu River.  Wave after wave would attack UN troops 
with little regard for the number of their own casualties.  The UN 
troops were in retreat.















          The Capture of Fr. Kapaun, a Catholic Chaplain with the 8th Cavalry.  When his regiment was surrounded at the Battle of Unsan, he ignored heavy gunfire to minister to the wounded and dying after pulling them into holes.   When capture was imminent, Chaplain Kapaun elected to stay with his men, hundreds of them.  Their captors forced the men on a long death march through the snow from Unsan to Pyoktong.  When one of the wounded would fall by along the way, he would be shot.  Fr. Kapaun rallied his men to help carry their wounded brothers by carrying one himself.  He pushed aside one Chinese soldier, who was about to shoot a fallen GI, and picked him up.  Miraculously, this future saint got away with it.


          At the POW camp, the chaplain somehow made the extremely harsh conditions survivable for many.  The American troops were captured in summer clothes and had to endure a bitter winter.  They wore the same clothes for four months and thus had lice and maggots.  Despite being threatened with death, Fr. Emil went from hut to hut, praying with the men, caring for the wounded, and giving the latter any food he could scrounge, including his own ration, usually cracked corn.  The saintly chaplain stimulated their will to live when it was easier to give up.  As a result, the mortality rate of the men due to the conditions of the camp was a tenth of the other POW camps in the area.  Overall, half of the men died. 
  
          Fr. Emil often prayed to St. Dismas, “the Good Thief” for his intercession so he could be a more skilled thief in sneaking out at night and stealing food from the corn crib for his hungry men.  Then he would share with them his favorite meals that his Mom used to make in Kansas.

          Communist indoctrination, i.e. brainwashing was an integral part of the Pyoktong camp.  Several days a week, the men were lined up for “classes” on the evils of the West, capitalism, and Christianity. At the risk of being beaten or killed, Fr. Kapaun would sometimes mock and challenge the inculcation and encouraged the men to do the same. After one class, he led the men in a lively rendition of “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”  After the Korean War there was a major scandal when it was discovered that many American POWs were successfully brainwashed and even collaborated with the enemy.  Thus training methods were changed and the Department of the Defense trained all new and current soldiers with the Code of Conduct.


                    Mike Dowe, a fellow POW, who has worked hard 
                     to obtain the recognition that Fr. Kapaun deserves. 

          Dowe recalled: “They were plain afraid of him.  They didn’t know how to treat someone so fearless of them, who paid no attention to them, and carried an aura with him.  That’s why they killed him”.  Finally Chaplain Kapaun became sick with pneumonia and the Chinese soldiers took him to the so-called hospital, a bug and maggot infested little room the GIs called the “death house” because nobody came out of there alive.  According to Dowe, “he was recovering at the time; his fever had broken.  They were afraid he was going to get well.  He told us not to fight about it or put up a resistance on his behalf.  He said: ‘Don’t cry, Mike.  I’m going to where I always wanted to go.  When I get there, I’ll say a prayer for all of you.’”  Without proper medical assistance, the saintly chaplain died on May 23, 1951.


              After the Armistice in 1953, the survivors leave the camp with this cross
and till the story about their chaplain, Capt. Emil Kapaun.

Much of the information here is taken from the April 21, 2013 issue of the National Catholic Register.For more detail go to FrKapaun.org and Kansas.com/Kapaun.  They have links to some of his sermons, including one recording.  For more information click on 
   





http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/51508159#51508159 interviews two of the men with Fr. Kapaun in the POW camp.

http://www.kofc3744.org/about-fr-emil-j-kapaun/ tells his life story both written and with a video.

































          His Sanctity. Every canonized saint his noted for heroic virtue and unusual holiness.  His resourcefulness helped him care for his men.  Even before his internment at the camp, Fr. Emil volunteered for the worst details as help his men to dig latrines.  His courage and self-sacrifice helped him to lead; by his example he was able to get people to do what needed to be done without pulling his rank of Captain to order them.  Fr. Kapaun was a man of hope, Christian love, even love of enemies.  He stimulated cooperation among the men and their will to live.  Another ex-POW related that it “didn’t matter if the GI was Protestant or even believed in God.  He would have everybody together praying the Rosary.  When he prayed, they all prayed.  He would go from hut to hut and always wind up leading them in prayer”.  He was like a father to all of them.

          Fr. Kapaun was most remembered for his great humility, bravery, his constancy, his love and kindness, and solicitude for his fellow prisoners. "He was their hero -- their admired and beloved ‘padre’. He kept up the G.I.’s morale, and most of all a lot of men to become good Catholics."

           So far there are two documented miracles claimed by people who prayed to Venerable Emil Kapaun for his intercession.  Two doctors said both miracles are medically unexplainable.  These accounts were sent to the Vatican and two other reported miracles as well.  However, all of them need further investigation.  For a video on the testimony of one of the miracles, click on https://vimeo.com/141793688

              For a fascinating history with bibliography of Catholic chaplains in the U.S. military go to http://www.tfp.org/tfp-home/focus-on-history/catholic-army-chaplains-americas-forgotten-heroes.html.  For the official Dept. of Defense Medal of Honor Citations of Fr. O’Callahan and the other Catholic chaplains, go to my Blog #127 “Heroic Catholic Chaplains Who Have Been Awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor”.