5 Priests Who Turned Badass When Things Got Critical

The downside of being a man of God in a military setting is that there really is a cap on how much ass-kicking you can do. Sure, a priest can give last rights and counsel the troubled while the battle rages in the background, but it's not the sort of thing they make video games about.

But maybe they should, damn it. Especially when history is full of stories like ...

#5. Andrew White Goes Face to Face With Warring Factions of Iraq

Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com

Growing up, Andrew White wanted to be nothing but an Anglican priest. He not only was ordained, but also left England and studied in Jewish and Muslim universities throughout the 1980s to learn about other religions. After that, he became a pacifist, promoting reconciliation between religions and vowing never to get into a war. That is, until 2005, when he became a chaplain and was sent into Iraq.

Via Assist News Service
Which, judging by this reaction, he accepted with minimal brow furrowing.

Setting up shop, White saw no better area to be than the Red Zone, aka the dangerous areas of Baghdad. The only chaplain crazy enough to live there, White quickly gained the title of "Vicar of Baghdad." At first, many of the local crazies tried to scare him off by kidnapping him, torturing him, hijacking his car, bombing his church, and holding him at gunpoint, threatening to murder him. But while this succeeded in getting other clergy to leave the area, White stayed on.

Winning a begrudging respect, White was now in a unique position. Seen as one of the only people whom representatives on both sides of the conflict could count on to not screw them over, White took a lead role in negotiating the release of hostages (one of whom was his own deputy) and helped barter a negotiated peace between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in his area of Baghdad. Where the British and American governments had failed over a matter of years, White succeeded in only a matter of weeks.

Via Yorkpress.co.uk
We're assuming he just showed up and flexed until they started crying and gave in.

Even with his extended duties and the occasional assassination attempt, White still managed to give Sunday services every week. Today, White is still in Baghdad, now flanked by security guards after some of his staff was killed. Despite missing his fingertips due to one torture session, White has only left Baghdad once since 2005 and chooses to remain there, as life in London would be, in his own words, "boring." Compared to his life, he's undoubtedly right.

#4. Pere Marie-Benoit Flips Off the Nazis

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During the early 1940s, France suddenly came down with an epidemic at the time known as "the Nazis." While many just went along with it, a priest in Marseille named Pere Marie-Benoit was having none of it. A leader in Jewish studies, Marie-Benoit did not like how the local German and Italian invaders were treating the city's Jewish population. So instead of just letting things slide by, Marie-Benoit decided to run a Jew-smuggling operation that could have gotten him killed or imprisoned many times over.

Via YV - FMS / D.R.
Honestly, from the looks of him, he could have just scared Hitler into knocking that shit off.

At first he started in small ways, hiding a Jew here, giving a Jew supplies there. But soon, as more and more desperate people came to his door, Marie-Benoit had to quickly escalate things. By 1941, he was running one of the largest counterfeiting operations of the war. Working from inside a cramped (supposedly neutral) monastery, Marie-Benoit oversaw the making of fake passports, baptism certificates, money, and visas. This way, every person who entered the monastery could come out, in the eyes of the Germans and Italians, a) Catholic and b) having the proper paperwork to leave the country.

Via Dutchparisblog.com
Height: 6 feet. Hair: Black. Religion: Definitely not Jewish, so please don't ask.

OK, so now you have 2,000 "Catholics" wandering around outside a monastery. What could Marie-Benoit do? Well, since their paperwork said they were Catholic, why not see if other Catholic nations wanted them? Contacting authorities in Spain and Italy, Marie-Benoit not only managed to get them to accept these sudden Catholic refugees, but also convinced the pope to help him with spying in 1942 -- an act of war at the time. While this was the pope's first real law-breaking act of the war, for Marie-Benoit, this was death sentence number 3,000 or so by now.

During this entire time, Marie-Benoit was also being chased around by the Gestapo and was nearly killed on a few occasions for the crime of "suspicion of aiding others." What can we say, Nazis were not nice people. However, a holdup in Spain on the documents of 2,600 Jews was soon an issue. Using a last-ditch effort that could have gotten him killed on the spot, Marie-Benoit managed to persuade the Spanish Consul in Rome that all of these people were Spanish. Despite it not saying so anywhere on their IDs, Spain fell for it.

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
We think it went something like this.

Marie-Benoit managed to not lose a single Jew and rode out the rest of the war knowing that he could pretty much screw up everything for the rest of his life and know he still had a free ride into heaven when the time arrived. And just to secure it, before his death in 1990, Israel gave him the honored title of Righteous Among the Nations.

#3. Charles Liteky Goes into Rescue Mode

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In 1967, Catholic chaplain Charles Liteky was serving in the Vietnam War, keeping up his troops' spiritual side. A pacifist from New York, Liteky couldn't wait to get out of Vietnam. On December 6, Liteky and his troops were out patrolling in the Bien Hoa Province when they were suddenly attacked by North Vietnamese soldiers. Severely outgunned 3-1, Liteky decided it was time to show them what priests could do.

Via Yatedo.com
Together with Private Cuddles, they were unstoppable.

Seeing troops in front of him fall, Liteky's first instinct was to take out his pistol and rush forward -- despite a Vietnamese machine gun going full blast in front of him. He would then dive on top of an injured soldier, shield him with his body, and drag him to safety when fighting lulled. Shot twice, Liteky did this over and over again until each wounded soldier was out of there (including two men right in front of the machine gun).

The good news was that evacuation helicopters were on the way. The bad news was that the soldier whose job it was to direct the choppers from the ground was killed. Liteky, seriously injured and having no experience in directing helicopters ever, managed to get the rescue chopper to land. He proceeded to do this all night with each chopper before another company came in and relieved the wounded and battle-hardened priest.

Via Wikimedia Commons
"I'm here to claim my presidency."

As Liteky had saved 20 soldiers, he was given the Medal of Honor and was guaranteed to never pay for a drink again. However, he later remembered he was a pacifist, and in 1986 he became the only person ever to give back his Medal of Honor -- one that he richly deserved for being a priest who suddenly clicked into "Rescue" mode and didn't snap out of it for a day or so.

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