Matt C. Abbott
August 18, 2009
Catholics in the military
By Matt C. Abbott

The first "Catholics in the military" item is courtesy of CatholicMil.org:

    'Spiritual armor is as mission essential as body armor. Combat readiness demands both spiritual fitness and physical fitness. The reason is clear: in combat, we stand on the threshold between this life and the next. A band of brothers is formed with those who stay, and together we keep alive the memories of those who go before us- confident that we still have an important life mission to accomplish right here. As Catholic military personnel and chaplains continue facing unprecedented challenges in the defense 'against all enemies, foreign and domestic,' CatholicMil in direct proportion is called to serve as a force multiplier for our chaplains and assist in their mission effectiveness.

    'For the first time this year, two air craft carriers will deploy without a Catholic priest on board. There just aren't enough US Navy priest chaplains to assign. And not having a priest aboard the carrier affects the entire strike group regarding sacrament availability. Morale, missions, and marriages will be adversely affected and compromised.

    'So what can you and CatholicMil do? Together, we offer all that we have. We invoke frontline saints, including St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) whose lives and sacrifice the Church celebrates this month. We report global and national news that your won't find headlined in today's press. Through Father Capodanno, we pray priestly vocations to the Church and specifically to the military chaplaincy are answered. Such is a crisis of response, not vocations. Twenty years ago, the New York Times reported that our Navy Chaplain Corp responsible for the spiritual welfare of Navy, Marines and Coast Guard had 261 Catholic chaplains serving 204,230 sea services Catholics, a 1:780 ratio. Today's Navy has just 60 priests serving roughly 221,200 sea service Catholics, a 1:3687 ratio.

    'Alliances

    'CatholicMil has joined efforts with FOCUS, Fellowship of Catholic University Students, to sponsor Danielle Lucier assigned to the Navy Academy in Annapolis. She will receive free Wartime Prayer books, rosary meditations for military, and other supplies to distribute to the cadets while 'stationed' at the Academy. All you Academy grads reading this recognize the significance of such an alliance, surely.

    'Opportunities

    'Many today have opted to take advantage of the new post 9/11 GI Bill benefits that make it possible to earn a college degree or transfer those eligibility benefits to dependents. Thankfully, 'the few and the proud' exert every effort to obtain an authentically Catholic education along the Way. We at CatholicMil seek to assist military personnel in making a well informed decision regarding their selection of an academic institution.

    'To that end, united with the Cardinal Newman Society, CatholicMil has launched Operation Littlemore (Newman was received into the Catholic Church at the college in Littlemore) with a mission to provide each military chaplain a free copy of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. Listed as qualifying institutions within both the Newman Guide and the GI Bill's Yellow Ribbon Program are Christendom College, Catholic Distance University, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Mount St. Mary's, Aquinas College and more. Envision what a Catholic education can do when applied to military service! Our first request for a Guide to Catholic Colleges was received from a priest stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. You'll want to be a part of this....'

And speaking of Afghanistan...The second "Catholics in the military" item is courtesy of John Grasmeier, a Catholic Desert Storm veteran and moderator of Angelqueen.org, whom I asked to weigh in on the Afghanistan situation:

    'As per the latest memo, the ever-evolving and nebulous mission in Afghanistan now has devolved into merely defending the Afghani people from a reemerging and re-strengthened Taliban. Before this latest shift in strategy, the mission was ostensibly to install a type of zombie 'democracy' while making all the bad guys go away. For a number of reasons, this was a poorly thought-out approach that is doomed to fail.

    'First off, the harsh living environment, the molding hand of history and the insidious influence of Islam (among many other contributing factors) has formed a heathen culture completely alien to ours and impervious to foreign manipulation. Their world is the polar opposite of Western Civilization; which is (or at least was) a complex Christian-rooted societal order developed over many centuries. In Afghanistan, as in much of the Middle East, their way of life is not unlike that of their ancestors during the eighth century. They are incapable of adopting our ethos and systems, even if they desired such. We should no more expect flat-earthers to embrace an inorganic, vector-imposed 'democracy' than we should expect Great Britain to live under Sharia law. Such an austere and backwards culture will never become 'user-friendly' to our designs in any lasting way.

    'Secondly, the 'bad guys' we're supposed to be wiping out can simply scatter into the mountains, abscond to Pakistan, hide among the populace or go back to running goats and heroin until it's safe to resume their strongman agenda. Even if we were to vanquish the current contingent entirely, they are an endlessly renewable resource. As this is being written, battalions of replacement radicals are in cradles being raised to take their place. In the event they can't produce enough indigenous radicals, they simply import them from elsewhere.

    'While our venerable soldiers on the ground certainly have learned these lessons the hard way, to their misfortune, our politicians in Washington haven't. Our fighting men may be the best on earth, but they're not capable of ameliorating the disconnected reality their leaders exist in. To make matters worse, their Commander in Chief's military focus and commitment makes Gomer Pyle look like a seasoned Field Marshall. (Though, in Obama's defense, he had little to do with getting us into this mess.) Obama doesn't appear to be the Moses who will lead us out.

    'The way power is largely delegated in the Middle East is a rather simple formula: The guys with the most guns and willingness to use them are in charge. For the moment that happens to be us. As the guys in charge, we have two options neither of which is good. Option one is to remain indefinitely and maintain the status quo. Option two is to leave the Afghans to themselves and deal with the consequences. There is no third way. There will be no 'V Day' in Afghanistan.

    'The problem with option one is that established military doctrine, from Sun Tzu (500 BC) to Norman Schwarzkopf (1991 AD), holds that time and protraction inevitably become grave enemies of foreign military expeditions. Such operations are machines that require huge amounts of treasure and a perpetual stream of live bodies for fuel. They also require political will and support of the populace. As it stands, we've already been there nearly twice as long as it took us to win World War II, yet the situation on the ground is worse than ever.

    'As time wears on our collective will, it becomes progressively likely that we will go with option two, which means that after spending a better part of a decade and sacrificing so much life, limb and treasure, we will have nothing to show for it all except severe humiliation and an Afghanistan in as bad, or worse, condition than before we arrived.'



There is a new independent feature film about the Miracle of Fatima called The 13th Day. Check out the film's Web site and trailer.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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