The Debate over Lt. Berry's Fate Continues

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 10, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Debate over Lt. Berry's Fate Continues


One would have to go a very long way to find anything as ridiculous and insulting as the case 1st Lt. Ryan Berry is waging against the U.S. Air Force over his refusal, based on his personal interpretation of Catholic doctrine, to serve alongside female officers in missile silos ("Lieutenant wants evaluation retracted," Aug. 5). As a Catholic Republican who strongly supports the military, I felt I had to respond.

Setting aside the constitutional issues related to the state's limited obligations to accommodate religious beliefs in public institutions such as the military, and the Air Force's need to put its mission ahead of the idiosyncrasies of its officers (which is all they are if based on personal interpretations and not widely held dogma), Lt. Berry's case reflects an odd view of what the Catholic Church teaches. He must be confusing the 20th-century church with the medieval beliefs of the Taleban in Afghanistan. Our church long ago dropped the official line that women were to be kept apart from men because they were temptresses used by the devil to seduce the purer male gender from the path of righteousness. To argue that men cannot be trusted to share quarters with women; that the free will with which we have been endowed somehow does not allow for a man (or woman) in that situation to make the correct choice; that we are no more than base, rutting animals and not unique creations made in the image of God, is insulting to men, women and the system of beliefs Lt. …

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The Debate over Lt. Berry's Fate Continues
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