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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  • Posted by: Fr. William - Apr. 13, 2005 12:38 AM ET USA

    Semper Fidelis, Father Shaughnessy, SJ, Semper Fidelis. Thank you for your witness in serving Christ and His Church as one of his holy priests. And thank you for caring for the spiritual well-being of our brave men and women serving in the US Armed Forces. Oremus, --from a brother priest in the trenches of the home missions.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 11, 2005 10:36 AM ET USA

    Mosty Catholic chaplains are marvels. Fr Shaughnessey sounds like one of them. Fr Vince Capodanno got the Medal of Honor in Viet Nam where he died protecting a marine. I knew him in school, and many, including myself, feel he ought to be declared a Saint. Contrary to pop talk, war is not intrinsically evil. Sometimes it is virtuous. Chaplains know this. It makes them real men. They go to the heart of our Faith and their men know it. God bless all chaplains ! See:

  • Posted by: - Apr. 10, 2005 11:50 PM ET USA

    Diogenes ... you're not supposed to be politicking before the conclave. All the same, Fr. Shaughnessy would have my vote. Make him Pope Shaughnessy and please let me see Cardinal Mahony's face when it happens! In all seriousness, I pray that we may be blessed with a pope who surrounds himself with the likes of this warrior priest. It would do all of us good.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 10, 2005 8:07 PM ET USA

    Of course, it bears well to remember Fr. Tom Doyle, who sounded the clarion twenty years ago, only to have his faculties suspended by the coward who heads the military archdiocese. Something tells me O'Brien wouldn't make it back to his DC sinecure either, were he foolish enough to hasten toward the sound of the guns.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 10, 2005 8:03 PM ET USA

    I myself am a three-time veteran of the Global War on Terrorism, serving in Bosnia, Germany, the Hague, D.C., and all over the Horn of Africa. Had one of the many simpering norteamericanos jesuitos sought to accompany us on our many missions, it's fair to say he would not have returned. At all. As it was, we were fortunate to have brave, soldierly (I'm Army Reserve) Catholic chaplains who could often be seen in full battle rattle at night, standing on the Hesko barriers with the hombres.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Apr. 10, 2005 6:16 PM ET USA

    They say that in wartime the safest occupation is that of a soldier I agree. To have your weapon at the ready, to understand the nature of the battle; That is what it is all about Ephesians Chapter 6... And may God enlighten the ignorant... JP

  • Posted by: - Apr. 10, 2005 4:34 PM ET USA

    Add Father Shaughnessy to the list of great ORTHODOX Jesuits. St. Ignatius must be praying very hard.