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By Diogenes ( articles ) | Apr 10, 2005

Flashback to Iraq in mid-September of last year, and the following vivid account of the battle between insurgents and Marines in that cemetery at Najaf:

"When you have that many people, that many rifles, that many machine guns, you have grenades exploding, rocket-propelled grenades exploding, rockets being fired, it's deafening, it's a dull roar," says Breshears. Staff Sgt. Ian Bonnell is in Breshears' platoon. "I didn't want to go in there. The first day that we showed up, we're on a wall. And we're taking all the fire in there. And I just kept thinking to myself, 'We're gonna have to go in there,'" he says. "It played out pretty much how I expected it... Close-in fighting, getting up close and personal with people." ...

"Down the line, you could hear everyone yelling 'incoming,' and at one point, I remember looking over and the chaplain that was with us," says Bonnell. "He was walking up and down the lines and it wasn't even fazing him. A round would go off and blow up and he'd turn around and look and start walking that way to make sure everyone was OK." That chaplain, Father Paul Shaughnessy, blessed the Marines as they fought.

Fr. Paul Shaughnessy, S.J., will be familiar to readers of Catholic World Report in connection with his article "The Gay Priest Problem"-- for which he conspicuously failed to be awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of San Francisco.

There will be, ah, no second collection today...

The photo above shows Fr. Shaughnessy conducting a penance service for Marines and First Cavalry soldiers in Najaf. Regarding his pastoral sensibilities in responding to the sensus fidelium, Shaughnessy tells CWN that his homilies tend to be better, and briefer, when preaching to a congregation carrying automatic weapons it knows how to use. I decline to speculate on the beneficial effects more widespread adoption of the practice may have on clerical orthodoxy, benignity, and probity of life.

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