Letters to the editor – Nov. 16, 2023


Eradicating evil

To the Editor:

“We cannot eradicate evil with bombs. But we CAN eradicate evil with collaborative wisdom.”

Annamarie Marcalus
Iowa City


Listen to both sides

To the Editor:

I would like to thank the Messenger for the article on Father Tad Pacholczyk’s presentation. It was an accurate summary of his talk that I heard personally. In the full presentation, he expressed true pastoral charity for people facing serious pain. 

In this time of being a synodal, listening Church, I was disappointed that letter writers criticized his presentation because he presented the “other side” of the argument. Dr. Julia Sandusky, a psychologist who presented for our clergy gathering last week, pointed out there is limited, long-term data around this topic clinically. In particular, many European countries such as Sweden, Finland, Norway and the UK are adopting a “wait and see” approach toward caring for people experiencing gender dysphoria rather than immediately offering “affirmation therapy,” including hormone treatments and irreversible surgery. 

A “one-size-fits-all” model of conversation that excludes dialogue on the topic of how to minister to our brothers and sisters goes against both the spirit of synodality and the spirit of the document published by our diocese, which stresses “case-by-case decision making” as well as “consultation.” How can we truly “lean into these new questions, and not avoid them” by being judgmental of Father Tad and those who present an alternative on an unsettled topic? 

I find it particularly upsetting that members of the marginalized de-transitioning community are attacked for sharing their stories. The diocesan guidelines state that “we should give individuals the benefit of the doubt,” so why is it assumed Father Tad “interpreted” Walt Heyer’s story as “regret of transitioning”? Father Tad is taking Walt’s account at face value as Walt tells it in the spirit of the guidelines. Stories of our brothers and sisters who have de-transitioned are worth hearing and show that there is not a clear “binary” in regards to “transitioning” solving all of life’s problems.

Father Ben Snyder
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bettendorf

Finding a meeker response

To the Editor:

Kathy Berken’s Nov. 9 Catholic Messenger opinion piece “Before you choose a side, do this” is excellent. With solid Christian evidence, she argues that it is not always wise “to choose sides so quickly” on “political, religious or ideological” disputes. Her motivation comes from a New York Times article urging the opposite in reference to current violence in the Middle East.

I would like to add that we might indeed get to the point where choosing a side is necessary. In this case, some more Christian wisdom can help. We should carefully consider whether it is wise to be on the side of those who have the largest and most sophisticated supply of weapons. Jesus blessed the meek and the peacemakers, who he said would inherit the Earth. One can choose to increase the violence by adding military and monetary support to one of the sides. Or, one can try to find some meeker response.

Someone once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral conflict, remain neutral. While perhaps not false from a Christian perspective, this aphorism has been interpreted poorly. We assume the best choice in a moral conflict is to assert one’s position through superior military power. Then we assume that this was the last resort, as if we ourselves were the agents who determine when the last things happen.

Tadd Ruetenik

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