April 27, 2007

Letters to the Editor

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Chaplains are important to military’s support network

As a recently retired 31-year Navy veteran, I found the letter in the April 13 issue of The Criterion very uninfomed and unfairly critical of the military and Catholic Church.

Military chaplains are a very important ministry in many religions, and are a critically important element of the support network to our military forces.

Whether you believe this is a just war or not, it is an exceedingly difficult situation for our deployed troops—many young men and women—far away from families and loved ones.

For many years, chaplains and other resources have helped our soldiers and sailors cope with these difficult circumstances, keeping their emotional and spiritual balance, better prepared to survive, avoid atrocities and return home to their families.

Just like infantry soldiers, sailors on ships, air crews and Marines, chaplains do not set government policy. Our armed forces support national policy as established by our civilian leaders. Chaplains are there to support our troops.

To suggest chaplains should not support our troops is ignorant and short-sided; in reality, this would lead to greater loss of life on both sides.

Similarly, deployment of chaplains is a function of the military community, based upon mission needs. They are not sent by the Catholic Church.

I hope this will provide some comfort and inner peace to the letter writer about the role of chaplains in the military and the essential support they provide to our troops.

A visit with recently returned military unit members might be insightful as well.

- Pete Lenzen, Bloomington

Chaplains help soldiers cope with real life problems

The April 13 letter to the editor about the alleged hypocrisy of Churches in support of military chaplains comes from a narrow point of view.

Biblical scholarship is best left to scholars, but the Bible often speaks of war. Hence, God knows there is evil, and John Stuart Mill was correct when he said, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.” For instance, the Civil War resulted in freedom for slaves.

Soldiers exist, and they need ministering.

I was an infantry battalion and brigade commander. With more than 3,500 soldiers under my supervision, I can tell you that real life problems exist. Children were born, and parents died. Marriages were tried, and without my overworked chaplain I don’t know how these men and women would have coped.

Orwell said, “Those who abjure violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.”

I simply ask that the letter writer find a little charity for his protectors.

- Col. (Ret.) Martin Weaver, Martinsville

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