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January 10, 1997     The Message
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January 10, 1997

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 " Bishop's Forum -- these past few summer think- COmes the day- recalling of memo- of the past. with those musings mind are Some unpleasant s ofstories I have heard people. These are sto- to know are, at at worst, to another. of mine in le still a semi- several weeks as m the boys' sessions CYO Camp Rancho Framasa in What a wonderful experience it was and what a learning moment it a young man to discover the joy of. the power of a game to teach. Framasa is a summer camp of the anapolis. It is a camp under as is our Outpost in the Diocese By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER can rightfully expect are part of the regime. So Games that may appear on Aesop 'rs foolish carry with them ike Fables. One such game during each camp week, either arrived and ensuing stories at campfire Is that a fact? or the substance of campfire itself this "game with a moral" was part of the program. For our purposes let us give it a name: "Is that a fact?" The counselor-in-charge lays out the rules of the game. They are sim- ple. The counselor of each group of children is given a "fact" and instructed'to whisper the simple fact in the ear 0fthe first of his group of eight or 10 campers. As the second camper -- the hearer -- heard the "fact" he would conclude with: "Is that a fact!" He, and ensuing members of his group, would repeat the "fact" as it had been heard and pass it on to the next, each time asking "Is that a fact?" At the conclusion the last camper in each group was called to the campfire Each, in turn, gave the "fact" as it had come to each of them. The outcomes were fun, in fact, hilarious. The kids had a blast. Their laughter elated the oft- times weary counselors Notice, no one was hurt! To demonstrate, a "fact" might have been: "Mary had a little lamb." The "fact" as rported, after being heard by 10 separate sets of ears, was unpredictable. We counselors took delight in the variations and so did the campers. You can use your own imagination as to what was passed on as fact and ultimately reported by the last camper of each group. Would you believe: "Merry was the little clam!" "Mary had a little lamb in a stable." "Barry had a little lab." "Marry and have lots of jams!" These are but a few possibilities. Try this teaching game in your family. Identify a verifiable fact or make one up as a "fact." Father or mother can serve as transmitting the "fact" to the next family member. When you have completed the playful exercise, you will find how easily distor- tions, interpretations or simple mis-pronunciations can lead to totally inaccurate reports of fact. Is it no wonder that untruths can, by "innocent parties" escalate to the total destruction of another's charac- ter?! The leader should then close the game with the moral The game allows children to be engaged with- out much thought or personal accountability. They typically do not pay attention to the question: "Is that a fact?" In other words, they are only passing on that which they thought they heard. They do not stop to verify the information as fact, hence the question "Is that a fact?" becomes an exclamation, "Is that a fact!" Subtle is the punctuation and how great is the damage possible. The game concludes with the head-counselor revealing to all the campers the "true fact" as it had been given to the counselor of each group and passed on to each camper. The moral is then drawn The obvious discrepancies and "untruths" are named to remind how wrong it is -- and how easy it is -- to pass on information that is not true or even exaggerated, particularly when it affects another person. The moral: If you must pass on anything as information about another, report only that which is verifiable fact. Next week: lzzat so! Catholic Social Teaching and violence Years or so, has and clarity 'of quote s bishops' violence: to life of tour- n, integrity Ion, such as inflicted on to coerce insults as subhu- arbitrary slav- selling of well as g Conditions, treated as rather per- others indeed. who Presi- amid signs church's an invi- sides Vatican have to an 50th ordi- account a Student, it Lt the practice them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator: ' Gaudiuni et Spes, 27 And how can we fail to consid- er the violence against life done to millions of human beings, especially children, who are forced into poverty, malnutrition and hunger because of an unjust distribution of resources between peoples and between social classes? And what of the violence inherent not only in wars as such, but in the scan- dalous arms trade, which spawns the many armed con- flicts which stain our world with blood? What of the spreading of death caused by the reckless tampering with the world's eco- logical balance, by the criminal spread of drugs, or by the pro- motion of certain kinds of sexu- al activity which, besides being morally unacceptable, also involve grave risks to life? It is Vatican, attended by thousands of fellow priests. The ceremonies were long, and the pope sat through much of it expression- less; the lack of facial movement, it is said, is another symptom of his nervous system disorder. It was all the more poignant, then, when he stood up at the end to say thanks to his brethren in the priesthood and a smile broke through. " Even as he says goodbye to 1996, the pope's calendar for 1997 is already filling up. Heql give a major address to diplo- mats in early January and meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu later in the month. He has pastoral visits tenta- tively planned for the Czech Republic April 25-27; to his Pol- impossible to catalog completely the vast array of threats to human life, so many are the forms, whether explicit or hid- den,'in which they" appe/r today! Evangelium Vitae, 10 This growing culture of vio- lence reflected in some aspects of our public life and entertain- ment media must be confronted. But it is not just our policies and programming that must change; it is our hearts. We must con- demn not only the killing but also the abuse in our homes, the anger in our hearts, and the glo- rification of violence in movies and music. It is time, in the words of Deuteronomy (30:19), to "Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live. ." We must join with Pope John Paul II to "proclaim, with all the conviction of my faith in Christ and with an awareness of my mission, that violence is evil, that violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems, that vie. lence is unworthy... Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity." Confronting a Culture of Violence, II Above all, we must come to understand that violence is unacceptable .... We oppose law- lessness of every kind. Society cannot tolerate an ethic that uses violence to make a point, settle grievances, or help us get what we want. But the path to a more peaceful future is found in a rediscovery of personal respon- sibility, respect for human life and human dignity, and a recom- mitment to social justice. Soci- ety needs both more personal responsibility and broader social responsibility to overcome the plague of violence in our land and the lack of peace in our hearts. Confronting a Culture df Violence, V1 Another look at ihe framework for action The 1994 Bishops pastoral message, Confronting the Cul- ture of Violence, offers a frame- work for action against violence. As Catholics, we are called to engage the each other and the ish homeland May 31-June I0; to France for World Youth Day Aug. 23-24; and to Brazil to pre- side over a worldwide meeting of families Oct. 4-5. if that's not enough traveling, the other day the pontiff mentioned to aides at lunch that he still wants to go to Sarajevo. Sometime during the year, he is expected to name a new batch ofcnals, as well as new arch. bishops in several major U.S. sees. He plansto unveil a long- awaited Vatican study on anti- Semitism, and help lay the groundwork for a church confer- ence on the excesses of the Inqui- sition. And as in 1996, much of his activity in 1997 will keep time to a subtle rhythm -- the ticking of the millennihl Clock. broader community to reorga- nize our priorities and recommit our resources to confront the vio- lence in our midst. Of the many challenges offered in the pas- toral message, several could be seen as key: We recognize that our cul- ture is very violent and is mani- fested in many ways: domestic violence, abortion, proliferation of guns, and violence in the media, to name a few. And as the world's most voracious consumer we must learnto live with less and as the largest arms exporter, we also have a global responsi- bility to stem international vio- lence. More subtle types of violence are also prevalent in our society: discrimination, poverty, hunger, hopelessness, addiction, deterio- ration of family life are some of these. * The antidote to this violence is to respect all life. Our Catholic tradition offers us hope: we have the example of Jesus to follow, a long tradition of prayer and social teaching, a presence in most communities, and a consistent ethic of life. The living of this tradition can be seen in a variety of Catholic min- istries and programs throughout the country. Many tools are available to us to help confront violence: prayer, listening, examination of our own attitudes, legislative networks, community organiza- tions, nonviolent training and education, etc. * But we can do more: increased support for and par- ticipation in parish family and youth ministries, outnmch, adv cacy and education. Additionally, our liturgies can provide us opportunities to focus on Jesus' message of peace and justice. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops is committed to putting its resources at the dis- posal of dioceses and other national groups to promote anti- violence activities and advocacy. In the end, we must all dis- cover that we need to accept per- sonal responsibility for con- fronting violence, respect the life and dignity of each human per. son, and work for social justice. We need to become beacons of hope for a troubled world.