April 2005 v.p. “Am I the only one scandalized by this story?” p. 7
A letter to the editor regarding “A soldier Talks About Iraq” published on Feb 18, 2005 by the Catholic Mirror, the DM Diocese newspaper.
I am writing in response to your Feb. 18, 2005, Catholic Mirror story, “A Soldier Talks About Iraq”. I am wondering if I am the only one who feels scandalized by this story?
In the larger context of the current war, I am a peace-minded American Catholic who has been discouraged and grief stricken by our official USA Catholic Church’s virtual silence regarding the morality of our role in these wars of aggression. At best the public positions of our Catholic Church leadership have been cowardly on this subject. At worst, those same leaders have publicly acted as cheerleaders for the blind nationalistic spirit that is fueling the pro-war sentiment which props up these unjust, immoral and illegal military adventures. If there ever was a time that the American Catholic Church was at risk of losing it’s connection with the larger, universal Catholic Church and going its own American Nationalistic Way, it is on this issue, and it is now.
Within that context, there arrives in my mail your story by Mike Lapcheske, a DM Diocesan Catholic soldier serving his second term in Iraq. Anyone reading the story can easily see its focus. It is a personal account of a young man reconnecting with his Catholic Faith in a most difficult situation, a war. It has the added connection to the DM Diocese in the donation, by the Diocese, of several religious items. Among the items sent to Iraq is a holy water font for a chapel in the military facility where Mr Lapcheske was stationed.
On it’s face, this was a fair story to be covered in our local Catholic newspaper. That is, until we realize that the military facility to which our DM Diocese gifted those religious items was Abu Ghraib Prison. Abu Ghraib Prison is the prison renowned throughout the world for the human rights violations and the torture of Iraq prisoners by the US Military. Regardless of one’s position on the war, all Americans were shamed and disgusted by the revelations of these known human rights violations. That the Catholic Mirror would run Mr Lapcheske’s story, without even mentioning the Abu Ghraib Prison shame, is at best a gross journalistic oversight, at worse an indication of the larger US Catholic Church’s ( and the DM Diocese) total disconnect between its own moral obligation speak to the morality of these current wars and it’s apparent nationalistic desire to support our troops in the field.
In addition to my desire to hear our local Catholic leadership speak out against the immoralities of the war, in general, I would like to see our Diocese recall the religious items we donated to the Abu Ghraib Prison chapel, return them to Iowa for a Service of Repentance for the US crimes against humanity committed there, and have them re-blessed.
Des Moines Catholic Worker
From the Feb. 18, 2005 Catholic Mirror, Des Moines Catholic Diocese news paper: