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Evansville, Indiana
January 6, 1989     The Message
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January 6, 1989
 

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4 Editorial The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana January 6, 1989 By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor In the year 1989 -- many directions are possible Predicting the future is not a skill I claim, but there is a certain amount of certainty amidst all of the unpredictable uncertainties of the future. 1989 will be the year of far-reaching decisions within the Catholic Church of southwestern In- diana. The decisions of 1989 will affect the next decade and may well reach into the next century - the beginning of the next millenium. 1989 will be the first year of the next bishop of Evansville -- who will be called to be "priest, teacher and shepherd" for almost 90,000 Catholics in our 12-county area. In the history of the diocese, just three bishops have served this "portion of the people of God." Bishop Henry J. Grimmelsman, first bishop of Evansville, guided the diocese almost 21 years. If the next bishop has a term as long as the first, we will find ourselves quickly into the year 2010. Bishop Paul F. Leibold served our diocese just four years. Bishop Francis R. Shea is completing 19 years of service. In their terms of office, though shorter than the term of Bishop Grimmelsman, both Bishop Leibold and Bishop Shea have left their mark on our local church. Bishop Grimmelsman came to the area during the years of growth and expansion following the Second World War. He was a builder of parishes, schools, a retreat house, a preparatory seminary and a nursing home. Bishop Leibold, who came to the area during the years following the Second Vatican Council, presided over a different type of growth and ex- pansion -- building greater participation in the work and ministry of the Church. Bishop Shea came to the area at a time when post-war growth had been replaced by a period of at least industrial uncertainty, and in some cases, outright industrial decline. If enthusiasm for par- ticipation typified the years following Vatican II, perhaps a significant statistic typifies the 1980s: participation at weekly Mass in the diocese is now estimated at 51 percent. To Bishop Shea was entrusted the care of the diocese during years of tremendous change in the church, in the economy -- and even in the moral fabric of an American people divided over involve- ment in Vietnam, the killings at Kent State, Watergate, President Nixon's impeachment and legalized abortion. Within the diocese came decisions which found uneven reaction -- school closings and changes in diocesan structure. In the past 19 years, much that is new came to be -- the ordination of the first permanent deacons in the diocese, the appointment of the first woman religious as administrator of a parish, establish- ment of a new salary policy for women religious, and the Convocation of all priests in the diocese to discuss the role of the priest in the changing church. The first bishop was a builder; the second labored toward building participation. The third? Perhaps some years will provide perspective to make such a judgment. Or perhaps no One word or phrase will ever do justice to the bishop who presided over such complicated times. Many directions are possible for the next bishop. Will he lead the local Church in a path which observers will call "conservative?" Will there be a swing of the pendulum against at least some of the changes made since Vatican II? How will he deal with declining numbers of clergy and increasing financial pressures? Will he close churches? Will he consolidate parishes? Decisons made by the bishop who is chosen in 1989 will affect us all. It takes no skill to make such a prediction. Nor does it take skill to insist that 1989 will need prayer and continued trust in the Holy Spirit who guides and gives life to the Church today and tomorrow and into the next millenium. Washington Letter Race relations and a dream that's still only a dream By LAURIE HANSEN NC News Service WASHINGTON (NC) -- The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in a famous speech 25 years ago, said he had a dream his four children would one day live in a nation where they would "not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character. ' ' A quarter Of a century later, the dream is still only a dream. The 1989 U.S. observance of Martin Luther King Day is Jan. 16. "There is no question that racial prejudice and bigotry are still part of the national fabric," said Auxiliary Bishop John H. Ricard of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Black Catholics, in an inter- view. Even ig workplaces and the "few" neighborhoods that have integrated since the 1960s, most friendships between "rhMESS AGE 4200 Iq. Kentucky Ave. Evartsville, IN 47724-0160 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Pre of Evanevllle. Publilhor ........ Bishop Francis R. Shea .aamoclate Publlohar .... Rev. Jomph Ztligk Editor .................. Paul Lelnging Circulation Mgr..,. Mrs. Roee Montrutelle Production Mgr ............... Phil Boger Advertising Mgr ............... Din Harry Addreu all communlcatlone to P.O. Box 4180, Evinevilla, IN 47724-0169. Phone (el 2) .. Subscription rate: $15 per year Entered lul 2nd class mltter at the pcet of-. rice In EvanevlUo, IN 47701. Publication number 843800. Postm=stsr: Return POD forms 3579 to the Offloe of Publlcstlon. Copyright 1969 Catholic Press of Evansville blacks and whites are no more than "9-to-5 relationships," said Beverly Carroll, executive director of the U.S. Catholic bishops' Secretariat for Black Catholics. And the "reality of the job market" both within and out- side the church, she said, is that "most black people are locked in low-level jobs." Without referring to Dr. King's words or even the U.S. black experience, Pope John Paul II spoke of a similar dream in his annual World Day of Peace Message for 1989, titled "To Build Peace, Respect Minorities." The message was released by the Vatican Dec. 9. The World Day of Peace is celebrated Jan. 1. "Theunity of the human family," he said, "requires that the whole of humanity, beyond its ethnic, national, cultural and religious differences, should form a community that is free of discrimination be- tween peoples and that strives for reciprocal solidarity." But, he said, such is often not the case. Many minorities not given the chance to fully par- ticipate in society "find themselves in situations of suf- fering and distress," he said. This, in turn, he said, can lead them to "passive resigna- tion or to unrest and even rebellion." Neither path fur- thers the cause of peace, he said. Dr. King's commitment to finding a path between passivi- ty and violence led to institu- tional and legal changes in the "very oppressive apartheid system of the South ... but un- fortunately the more subtle, in- tangible" forces keeping many blacks in poverty have not been addressed, said Bishop Ricard, one of the nation's 13 black bishops. Racial prejudice today, he said, is apparent in the "na- tion's lack of commitment to housing abandonment of civil rights'.., and decision to balance the books on the backs of children and the poor." A group of national race and urban affairs specialists who met in Racine, Wis,, last February would agree with the bishop. Widening the racial gulf today, their report said, are "quiet riots," in the form of unemployment, poverty, hous- ing and school segregation and crime. The plight of poor, inner-city blacks, the report said, is more dismal now than 20 years ago. The number of blacks living below the poverty level rose to 9.7 million in 1987, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. Per capita income for blacks in 1987 was $7,500, compared to $13,030 for whites. Bishop Ricard said he blamed national leaders for setting a tone that "gives permission for bigotry and a take-care-of-self- first mentality" and has led to a resurgence of public examples of racial prejudice. News reports of increased racial violence on college cam- puses and tragedies like the 1986 Howard Beach incident -- in which three black men pass- ing through a white New York neighborhood were attacked by white youths -- show what happens when civil rights is placed on the back burner ofthe nation's agenda, said Bishop Ricard. Ms. Carroll called the pope's World Peace Day Message "right on target ... but it's hard for people to give up their old ways of doing things." According to a survey her of- fice took to locate black person- nel in U.S. dioceses, she said, "there are no black superintendents of schools, no black finance directors and only one black youth department director." Most black professionals employed by the church, she said, are in charge of "ethnic offices." Since Dr. King's day, a flourishing drug trade has com- bined with poverty to wreak havoc on black neighborhoods, said Ms. Carroll. Now black youths "who don't have goals or adequate role models and hang out on street comers" frequently turn to drugs, she, said/which have become "more plentiful than food" in some neighborhoods. The federal government, she said, has not seen fit to spend what is necessary to help the users and close down the ven- dors. Denise Rigano, 38, principal of Our Lady of Grace Elemen- tary School in a neighborhood in New York's Northeast Bronx where crack houses operate and drug deals are made on street corners, believes both blacks and whites need to "learn tolerance" in order to unlearn prejudice. Bishops' study says U.S. priests' morale is low WASHINGTON (NC) -- Many U.S. priests feel "trap- ped, overworked, frustrated" and suffer low morale, says a study issued by the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry. The growing shortage of priests and a feeling by many that their years-long work to implement the Second Vatican Council "is now being blunted or even betrayed" contribute to the low morale, the study says. It also cites loneliness, ten- sions over sexual issues and polarized views of the church as key factors. "Generally every study or commentary done on the priesthood and shortage of vocations mentions sexuality -- and specifically mandatory celibacy -- as a major reason a) for leaving the priesthood, b} for shortage of vocations and c) for loneliness and personal unhappiness of those who stay," the report says. It says that sexual tensions in- volve not only questions of "personal and interpersonal levels of sexuality" for in- dividual priests, but also "what might be called 'the politics of sexuality' which would include the issues surrounding feminism, married clergy, op- tional celibacy, the role and place of homosexuals in ministry, just to name a few." The report was completed and sent to the U.S. bishops last spring, but it was not made public at thaL time. In o September the Administrative Committee of the National Con- ference of Catholic Bishops ap- proved publication and wider distribution of the report, and the NCCB Public Affairs Office released copies to the press , after Christmas.