WASHINGTON, D.C.—An archdiocesan tribunal looking into whether the life of Vietnam War hero and U.S. Navy Chaplain Father Vincent R. Capodanno, M.M., merits consideration for sainthood by the Catholic Church has wrapped up its nearly four-year inquiry. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, declared the archdiocesan phase of the Cause closed in an announcement on Sunday at the end of the 23rd annual Memorial Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The decision clears the way for the tribunal’s findings to go to the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints for review and a possible decision on whether to advance the Cause to the next stage of consideration.
Father Capodanno (1929-1967), a Maryknoll priest from Staten Island, N.Y., died a servant of Christ on September 4, 1967, while rushing to administer the sacraments to U.S. Marines under enemy ambush on a bloody hillside in Vietnam’s Quế Sơn Valley. Father Capodanno received the Medal of Honor posthumously on January 7, 1969. Since his death, there have been numerous reports of favors following intercessory prayers to the hero chaplain. He was declared a “Servant of God” in 2006 by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the request of then Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, the Most Reverend Edwin F. O’Brien, clearing the way for his Cause to go forward.
Archbishop Broglio, who took the helm of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), in 2008, formally opened the Cause on Oct. 1, 2013, when he appointed the tribunal to conduct its inquiry into whether Father Capodanno lived a “life of heroic virtue.” Over the past three and a half years, the tribunal, headed by Msgr. Frank Pugliese, the Episcopal Delegate, and Msgr. Thomas Olszyk, the Promoter of Justice, has pursued its mission in painstaking detail, gathering facts on Father Capodanno, interviewing those who knew him and other witnesses as well as collecting documents. The tribunal appointed a theological commission, composed of three theologians, who poured over his writings, and an historical commission, which pieced together the details of his biography and life history.
In his announcement declaring the inquiry now closed, Archbishop Broglio said:
“On the twenty-first day of May in the Year of Our Lord 2017, I ordered that the original copy of the Archdiocesan Inquiry of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Father Vincent Capodanno be sealed, be diligently preserved in the Archives of the Archdiocesan chancery, and never opened without my express approval; the transcript (copy to be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints) be externally sealed by the Tribunal and signed and sealed by the Notary, will be handed to the Nunciature together with the enclosed envelopes of letters.”
The announcement itself will be nationally televised as part of the Memorial Mass on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. EWTN will air the Mass at 11:30 a.m. (EDST) and again at midnight (EDST). CatholicTV will air the Mass at 12 noon (EDST) and again at 8:00 p.m. (EDST).
If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints decides to move the case forward, the next step would be to declare Father Capodanno a “Venerable Servant of God” while the Church further considers whether to recognize him as a saint.