Friday, October 1, 2021

Pastoral Letter by the Anglo-Roman Holy Father regarding Servant of God Father Kapuan

FIRENZE-NUOVA ROMA 1 October 2021 (NRom)

Pastoral Letter by the Archfather, His Holiness and Eminence Papa Rutherford I regarding the recovery of the body of Father Kapuan.

There is much that we can learn from Servant of God Father Emil Kapaun. He was an American Army chaplain in the Second World War and the Korean War. He died in a prisoner of war camp during the Korean War, and just now his body has been recovered and returned to his home in Kansas. In his service as a chaplain, Father Kapaun had a reputation for bravery, serving the troops under adverse conditions and rescuing both the wounded and the dead. He baptized, heard confessions, and said the mass far in the front under heavy enemy fire. His Jeep from which he celebrated mass was destroyed several times, but he survived. In 2013, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honour, the United States of America’s highest military decoration.

Upon being captured during the Battle of Unsan in 1950, he refused to escape, instead staying to serve his fellow prisoners of war. Conditions unsurprisingly were horrid, with men suffering abuses and were afflicted by many medical conditions, malnutrition, etc. He refused to give in to despair, stood against communist indoctrination even in his vulnerable position, and worked tirelessly to keep others going.

Father Kapaun exhibits the best attributes of a selfless priest. We all hope never to be in such difficult conditions as he was, but there is much that we can learn from him in our daily lives. First, there is no excuse or reason to come down to the least common denominator simply because things are difficult or challenging. The good father said the holy mass wearing the proper vestments and using the proper forms on an altar improvised on a Jeep in the field, even under enemy fire. If he, like so many other chaplains then, could do that, we can certainly keep our standards, our dignity, and our faith during any difficulties that we face. Character is most important in adversity.

Second, life does not always go as we expect. Father Kapaun was taken prisoner by the Communists, and though that was surely known as a possibility, it also surely was not his desire or expectation. Even when life does not go as we expect, we should follow the good father’s example and not lower our standards, not give in to fear and despair, and not fall prey to the sorts of indoctrination to which people are particularly vulnerable during stressful situations. Consider now during the pandemic how many are giving into fear and are becoming victims to all sorts of harmful indoctrination.

Third, you should never give up. That is a clear message of Father Kapaun. He kept going in war and in a prison camp until he finally succumbed to death. As long as we are living, there is hope, and we can continue. The enemy wants us to abandon hope and stop doing what we are doing. The enemy ultimately is the same as always, Satan. He comes in many guises – often masquerading as a force for good. He influences governments and their agents, institutions, and even sometimes friends and family. There is no trick that evil will not use in order to harm us and bring us down. Indeed, with God all things are possible, and we must never, ever give up. We must never lower ourselves or surrender our dignity, no matter how go or desperate things may seem.

Lastly, you must remember the power of prayer. Father Kapaun credited his own survival under fire to the prayers of others. No doubt he took strength and gained courage for his own immensely brave actions from his own prayers as well. And, his prayers and the sacraments he offered no doubt saved countless lives, strengthened others in their darkest hours, and raised up many people.

It is no surprise that the few still living who remember Father Kapaun personally were overjoyed that his body was recovered and brought to Kansas. We hope that this will renew public awareness of his heroic acts, thereby inspiring others to strengthen their own faith or even come to the faith for the first time.