Another side of new Milwaukee archbishop

Chaplain Jerome E. Listecki, pictured at St. Joseph Church, Wilmette, Wis. (Photo courtesy of Penny Listecki)

The Milwaukee Catholic Herald gave its readers another view of their new archbishop with this story about his military chaplaincy where he  ministered to soldiers in the reserves.

In 1991, when there were more than 500,000 troops stationed in the Persian Gulf, Life magazine planned to do a “chaplain goes to war” story featuring Chaplain Jerome E. Listecki. The then-chaplain was told three times to prepare to join Operation Desert Storm but before he was to ship out, the war ended.

A friend who met the archbishop in the reserves described Milwaukee’s new shepherd as “a good example of what a true priest should be” and fondly remembers that the priest would “wear his military uniform and his combat boots under his vestments.”

8 Responses

  1. “would wear his military uniform and combat boots under his vestments”… ugghhh… I am left speechless… I love the Church, the priesthood, the sacraments, Our Lord Jesus Christ… I am not even a “liberal, left wing, socialist radical” but I do recognize that there is something inherently wrong with this image of a priest in military fatigues… or the image of a priest blessing a battleship with holy water. How can this in any way be reconciled with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ? Service to military personnel is one thing, but our clergymen should most definitely be barred from any participation or membership in any military, and should take care to distance themselves from approval of military operations, even if their personal convictions and conscience approve of it.

  2. Patrick, it’s apparent that you’ve never spent any time in the military at all. It’s also apparent that you do not understand the importance of the military or the role of chaplains within the military. First of all, the military is the reason why you have a right to spout off your ill-informed opinion (which is more left wing and liberal than you may realize). A strong defense (the military) is what allows this nation to be free. Without it, we would be subject to the whim of whatever despotic regime was the strongest. As for Chaplains, they are NONCOMBATANTS. What this means is that though they may wear combat boots and a uniform, they do not participate in combat. They do not carry or fire weapons or assist in battle in anyway. They are there to minister to the military members in what are often the most frightening and stressful moments in their lives. These Chaplains risk their lives to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the troops, administer the sacraments, and provide spiritual guidance and support. Often, a chaplain is the last face a wounded and dying solder sees before entering the Eternal Kingdom. This is VERY MUCH IN KEEPING WITH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. They DO NOT endorse or approve any specific military operation or mission. They never have and never will. Denominations (in the case of the Catholic Church, the Vatican and/or the pope) may issue statements of approval or opposition, but Chaplains do not. Of course, Chaplains are human beings and have their own personal opinions, but in their capacity as Chaplain, they cannot and must not get into that. It appears that you believe that military personnel should be told by the church that they’re on their own. Though they’re out there protecting our right to even BE a Christian, or Catholic, we’re opposed to war (even when it is in our own defense), so we’re not going to support you. That is the message that is sent if we do not allow priests in the military. How is that in keeping wtth the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I’ll be honest with you, I spent 16 years of my life in service to this nation in the armed forces and I find it highly insulting when people such as yourself spout off such opinions. However, I served to defend your right to your particular stupidity, so have at it. I will say however that your lack of gratitude for the freedoms you enjoy is astounding. I hope that some day you will learn that freedom doesn’t just happen, that it must be defended. I also hope that some day you will form INFORMED opinions and not just spout off liberal leftist rhetoric, which is based on skimming through the Gospel and ignoring facts which don’t fit in with your agenda. The bottom line is, the Military Chaplaincy does more to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ than you could ever hope to. Many have sacrificed their lives to minister to the troops. You’re not even worthy to polish their combat boots.

  3. Please note our comments policy, Patrick and Brandon.

    http://cnsblog.wordpress.com/comments-policy/

    We don’t want to censor our commenters, but please, no more personal attacks.

    Jim Lackey, CNS

  4. I apologize, the first post to this article got my blood pressure up to say the least and I should have posted later. My intention was not really to attack any one personally and I apologize for the parts of my comments which can be construed as a personal attack. It is frustrating and disappointing to see so many in our society however that fall for the liberal, left wing rhetoric. Many who spout this kind of rhetoric think the military is evil, but don’t recognize the evil of abortion, assisted suicide/euthanasia, the oppression (and sometimes abuse and/or murder) of women and of Christians in the Middle East, etc, but that is another issue. The bottom line is that the military doesn’t make policy and they don’t choose what battles to fight. The President, Congress and other high level civilian officials do. Our military exists to defend our nation and the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. The Chaplains are there to provide spiritual support to the military. If one has a problem with how the military is being used or with a specific military action, that should be taken up with the leaders who make the decision. Not providing Chaplains and/or withdrawing those in place because of a disagreement with decisions made in Washington would be unwise and would not be in keeping with the teachings of Jesus. Unfortunately the evil that the Church needs to address is in Washington DC, not on battleships or military bases.

  5. v for victory blogspot had a wondeerful post that mentioned that 4 chaplains, all Roman Catholic, were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. One priest-chaplain, Fr. Vincent Capadanno (I think that’s how his last name’s spelt) had his cause initiated in 2006.
    The bravery of Catholic priests on the battlefield during WWI and the theology of purgatory initiated a number of conversions in England. Ask Joanna Bogle.
    Let’s think of St. Michael the Archangel and St. Joan of Arc .

  6. Don’t you review these comments, like the first one you ranted agailnst, before you allow them to be published?

  7. In response to Patrick and Brandon,
    All you need to do is go the the history of our Catholic Faith and
    the kives of the saints. I am sure if you look you will notice that
    number of the saints, including some that are founders of religious orders, that was in the military of their times. They never
    condemed the men (just men back then) that was fighting. They
    may not of agreed with the reason for fighting but they always
    stood up for and prayed for the men fighting the conflict.
    May God Bless and keep safe all the men and ladies that are
    defending our right to worship our God and the freedom we have.

  8. If my understanding is correct, the Roman Catholic Church tries to hold a very difficult tension in teaching that both the Just War theory/military service and conscientious objection to participating in war and military service are morally acceptable options for catholics. I believe the U.S. Bishops pastoral letter The Challenge of Peace even calls them complementary in trying to work for peace in our world. While we support our military personnel and try to assist those who are deployed/have been deployed in whatever ways we can when they return to us, we also ought to give support to those who, in exercising their conscience, cannot bring themselves to military service. It is a tension and a fine line on how we support both, but it is in keeping with Church teaching. I agree with Frank that one can find saints who were members of the military of their day, but one can also find early Church saints who refused to participate in the military. We have examples of both in our Tradition; let us pray for all who are working for peace around the world in our military and in peace and justice organizations.

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