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January 7, 1994     The Message
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January 7, 1994
 

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Perspective-- What really happened in 1993? By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR So what really happened in 1993? And what will happen in 1994? Much depends on your view- point, I suppose. When President Bill Clinton took office early in 1993, was that event good news or bad news? Something to cheer or something to fear? The viewpoints are varied, and changing over time. In 1993, agents of the federal government stormed the compound at Waco, Texas, and scores of Branch Davidians were killed. Was that an appropriate way to resolve the situation? Or inappropriate? Necessary or un- necessary? In 1994, trials of some of the cult mem- bers will bring to mind all of the questions again. It is a sure thing to predict that we will see the same videotape again and again, of flames and smoke ris- ing from the Texas countryside. In 1993, some 200 people from southwestern Indiana joined thousands and thousands more from all over the world on a pilgrimage. Pope John Paul II came, too, to Denver. Was it a "worthwhile" event? Or a questionable expenditure of Church re- sources? A lot depends on your point of view. Will World Youth Day 1993 have any lasting impact in 1994? Or beyond. Certainly the possibilities for last- ing change are different for those who were there. When chosen delegates -- clergy, religious and lay -- gathered for Synod '93 in the Diocese of Evansville, was the direction taken for the good of the Church? Or questionable? Were the goals cho- sen by the delegates and ratified by the bishop inspiring or threaten- ing? What will happen in 1994 as a result of decisions made at Synod '93? Perhaps the truth of the mat- ter is simple: it depends on you It is easy to say, perhaps too easy, that these news stories are among the "most important" stories of the year. Certainly, such events a new president's term, an act of violence, a pilgrimage with the pope and a synodal gathering -- captured a lot of attention. But were they the most important events of the year? Much depends on your viewpoint. And your connection. And your participation or involve- ment. In 1993, Message staff writer Mary Ann Hughes received a Catholic Press Association award for "Best Feature Story." That is important to her, and to all of us at the Message, and to the readers who came to know more about the family she featured in her award-winning story -- a fam- ily facing the death of a child with faith and hope and love. When you look back at 1993 or ahead at 1994, the fundamental measure of importance for your and me is not the global or national or diocesan scale of an event. It is the human dimension. And to be human is to be part of a family. 1994 is the International Year Such a declaration may not easily as the headline holding events of the year, but in fact -- at least from my it is more important. What really happened in 1993? Family happened in 1993: the death of a the birth of a baby, the marriage of a ter, a child's first year in college or these are the important events of the present and future. It is the connection that makes all other important. It was the candidate of my my party, who was elected. It was a son or cousin who went to Denver with the A song written in the Cold War lenged listeners who would hear it to .... "the Russians love their children, too." When flames and smoke plumes the sky over Waco, Texas; those who somebodies' sons and daughters. Those the decisions, inside and outside the were somebodies' brothers and sisters. When health care is in the news in not only a story about billions of dollars san politics. It is a story about uncle or someone's infant daughter. 1994 is the Year of the Family. MaY year when we began again to view the world from a family perspective. May it be new and renewed relationships and with the Church, God's Family. Vatican Letter U.S. bishops hear yearlong call to faith from By JOHN THAVIS Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Closing out a yearlong series of meetings with U.S. bishops, Pope John Paul II focused on a simple but crucial theme: that private religious beliefs must produce real effects in daily life and public policy. The idea is basic because, as he told a group of prelates in September, people are uncon- vinced by the church's message unless they see that a faith professed is also a faith lived. It is a crucial principle in the United States, in the pope's view, because he expects the church there to play an activist role in promoting moral values and fighting such evils as abor- tion, euthanasia, racism and poverty. The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in L]mber by the Catholic Press of Evansville Pubsher .............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger E ............................................ Paul Lngang Production Manager ........................... PI Boget Orcuon ................................... Amy Housman hdvertisng .................................... Paul Newland Staf writer ............................ Mar,/Ann Hhes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $12.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post oflee in Evansvi,e. IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication  1994 Caolic Press of Evansv In discussing these threats with the bishops in October, the pope said they were symp- tomatic of the "increasingly de- structive behavior" of modern society and the accompanying "enthronement of self-cen- teredness." As he made clear in his re- cent encyclical, "Veritatis Splendor," Pope John Paul strongly believes society is gripped by a crisis caused by growing indifference to basic moral truths. Part of the bish- ops' job is to restore these truths as the touchstones of so- cial behavior and legislation, he said. "The pope really sees the church as a sign and witness to a world that is broken in so many ways," said Bishop William S. Skylstad of Yakima, Wash., after his private meet- ing with the pontiff. The "ad limina" visits, made by bishops every five years to report on the status of their dioceses, began for U.S. bish- ops in March. The first groups heard the pope repeatedly em- phasize the need for clear church teaching, in order to combat confusion among the faithful. In the second half of the year, the pope applied those teachings to some specific moral and ethical issues in U.S. society. On abortion, he was blunt. Catholics have a duty to re- form legislation that allows abortion and to promote alter- native programs of adoption and support for pregnant women, he told bishops from Pennsylvania and New Jersey in November. The pope, well aware of the ca:rout U.S. debate over eu- thanasia and assisted suicide, termed both practices "grave threats to human dignity" and urged bishops and all Catholics to make church teaching on end-of-life issues more widely known. In December, talking to bishops from California, Nevada and Hawaii, the pope encouraged further U.S. church efforts against the "in- tolerable injustice" of racism, which he described as a persis- tent threat to a democratic so- ciety. He also pointed to growing poverty, homelessness and un- employment in the United States and said the church should respond by trying to "imbue America's political, so- cial and cultural institutions" with the Gospel message. "To embody the church's so- cial teaching in the fabric of so- ciety requires both rigorous fi- delity to the Gospel and courageous creativity," he said. The pope cited an obstacle to this process: Catholics in high office or in the media who ad- vocate positions contrary to church teaching. He said the result is "confusion and even scandal" and called for inter- vention by bishops. But many of the pope's re- marks were encouraging and positive, regarding the church's pastoral programs and the future of U.S. society. He told New England bishops, for example, that he was con- vinced Americans increasingly recognize the need for moral formation in the family, schools and other institutions. After presiding over World Youth Day in Denver in Au- gust, the pope said he thought U.S. young people in particular are acutely aware that social and political renewal must be tied to moral values. Likewise, "they demand a clear sense of what it means in practice to be Catholic," he said. Unfortunately, he added, many youths have been "vic- tims" of educational theories that propose creating one's own values and "feeling good about themselves" as a guiding moral principle. Despite what the pope termed a "crippling confusion" on questions of good and evil, he found hope in the fact that the United States was built on a "high moral vision" and is open to renewal. Perhaps more than ever before, he said, U.S. Catholics can help lead their society in the right direction. The tone of this year's "ad limina" visits, which ended Dec. 6, was universally de- scribed by bishops as relaxed and friendly. "I can only say that I found everything to be very open and positive. I left feeling very en- couraged," said one of the last prelates to visit Rome, San Francisco Archbishop John R. Quinn. His was a typical assessment. Several had a sense logue had visits, cult issue of which became m papal Va After with the pope ber, for e Michael J. Fe said the po] consolation an, ment were "a sion of his love for in the United In 1989, she last round of the pope and h! s sat down with bishops for a on problems in the United clear the air .... understandings' i This year, is planned the times. ; Bishop's sc The following activities and events are schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger. 1