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January 12, 1996     The Message
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January 12, 1996

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The Message  for Catholics of Southweatem Indiana 5 "" Bishop's Forum -- Urging care in the use of language delighted that we have and belief, it is easy to use the pop- who assist the Eu- are selected in to serve. What a signifi- tradition. In COmmissioned to Lo other mem- especially the attend the local of Eucharist. of the Eucharist are spe- are called from the corn- love and re- Most do not have training personal understanding ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER ular language which describes in a very clear way the elements of the Eucharist. Bread and wine. They then become, casually, the ministers of the "bread and wine." Those who serve do not in- tend that. They believe deeply in the mystery of the Eucharist. But, we all must be very careful with our language. Language is not in- significant. The words we use re- flect the belief we hold. The Epiphany of the Lord gives us a chance to check our own personal use of words that exem- plify not only our understanding but commitment to the faith and its practice that is ours. One of the few times that Jesus showed out- rage was toward the money lenders and money changers in the temple precincts. The trivialization of the purchasing of sacrificial offerings led to the casual acceptance of business being transacted in the sacred space of the temple. Lot us not become casual in our response to Him, our brother, either in the Most Holy Eucharist or in serving as ministers. Ministers of the Eu- charist are not ministers of bread and wine, but of the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord. Let us never be "casual" about who we are and how we relate to the sacred mysteries. We must never presume that our "church language" is under- stood by all especially when we allow ourselves to become casual in its use. Commentary: Everybody's right happened to waiting oplight to turn intently yours is with a behind out of the corner of distracts see what it look it changes few seconds, his the light ct to that SOmewhat apologetic re- (the A few years ago the U.S. Ad- vertising Council developed a series of TV commercials de- signed to address the increas- ing problem of trash that litters our streets and highways. The littering solution presented in these commercials was a na- tional finger-pointing cam- paign. If you should see people tossing trash out of their car windows or in any public place, you should call attention to their stupid and inconsiderate behavior by pointing a finger at their trash to make them feel guilty. The expected response would be that polluters, thor- oughly shamed, would thank you for reminding them of their societal responsibilities, pick up their trash, dispose of it properly, and "sin no more." There was just one problem with this reasonable plan: it was being made in the United States of America, the land of the free, and the home of the Bill of Rights. You see, many U.S. citizens erroneously be- lieve they have the right to do anything they want. Not only have these small-minded and Or is re- a deep de- think SOme- Letter ,,, misguided people totally per- verted the intent of the found- ing fathers who drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights, they also conveniently ignore a fundamental tenet of our soci- ety: no one has a right to tram- ple on the rights of others. So how would you react to someone calling attention to your littering behavior? Would you feel duly embarrassed, admit your total lack of respect for your fellow human beings and the environment that God has entrusted to your steward- ship, thank the person for call- ing attention to your mistake and clean up your mess? Or would you fly into a rage and use words and gestures that would make a sailor blush? In a world that increasingly pro- motes senseless violence as way to solve problems, the lat- ter response is all too likely. What a sad commentary on our society! Even self-proclaimed peace- makers invoke a double stan- dard when it comes to promot- ing acts of kindness or seeking ways to make our world less vi- olent. Their personal message is often: say and do kind things to me, but if you ever disagree with me, or suggest that I am less than perfect, be prepared to receive the full force of my wrath! The new golden rule for many is: "I'll do kind things unto others as long as they do what I want them to do for me." What lies at the root of this increasingly aggressive social violence? Many factors: the de- cline of family values, loss of respect for human life, enter- tainment media preoccupation with evil, educational systems that reject values education, "respected" business and gov- ernment leaders who lie, cheat and steal - the list is almost endless. But most insidious of all is a growing attitude that "I'm always right." What makes our egos so fragile that we must protect them at all costs? Even more significantly, what makes us CHRISTIANS react in a most un-Christian manner when we make an honest mistake or dis- cover some personal weakness? The biggest problems in our so-. ciety may stem from the small- est word in the English lan- guage: "I." The good steward is chal- lenged to deny himself or her- self and follow Christ. Yet many of us could not even carry on a conversation if the word "I" were removed from our vo- cabulary! Discipleship doesn't mean giving up your identity, joining a cult or becoming an amorphous blob in a sea of faceless humans. It does mean rejoicing in and using the gifts and talents God has given us. It also means realistically ac- cepting our weakness and limi- tations. None of us is perfect - its part of our human nature (it used to be called one of the con- sequences of"Original Sin"). : But the good God has given others strengths where we have weaknesses; God has' given others talents where we have deficiencies. "We" is twice,  as big as "I" - and many ti'nes " more powerful. More than eyer,  " we need one another- dese'r- ately! i i II Catholic Conference heads leery of Catholic Alliance Service state a behalf of a little Coali- as to do the meeting of State directors, a tion. (Prior Very adept up as to st at the that the were dox) ago. A. Brown much-discussed topic was the formation of the Catholic Al- liance, a grass-roots political action group with an agenda that closely mirrors that of the Christian Coalition. Several state Catholic con- ference directors interviewed at the end of their meeting said that while they've worked together with the Christian Coalition on specific issues in the past, they're wary of how the new organization will oper- ate and where its agenda might conflict with theirs. Among their concerns is what several described as a lack of the perspective of church teaching in forming po- litical positions under the label "Catholic." "I am particularly troubled by the use of the term 'Catholic' in a disingenuous ap- proach to recruit Catholics when they're not including the perspective of Catholic social teaching," said Ned Dolejsi, di- rector of the Washington State Catholic Conference. "There's a lack of incorpora- tion of Catholic social teaching in their positions," said Ari- zona's Catholic conference di- rector, Msgr. Ed Ryle. "And the lack of discussion of the prefer- ential option 'or the poor is a great concern." Holy Cross Brother Richard Daly, director of the Texas Catholic Conference, said in his state the Christian Coali- tion is very closely identified with the Republican Party. He worries that the Catholic Al- liance will cause confusion about the church endorsing candidates and policies of one "In my view they are too par- tisan," Brother Daly said. =I have friends on the left who sometimes try to demonize the Christian Coalition and I don't agree with that. I believe there is a lot we can talk about, but we have to meet with these people simply to clear the air." Jimmy M. Lago, director of the Illinois Catholic Confer- ence, thinks the "average American Catholic" will pay little attention to the distinc- tion between the role of state and U.S. Catholic conferences and a group that says it repre- sents Catholics in political matters but does so in a parti- san way. "The Christian Coalition is very explicit about wanting to elect conservative qandidates," said Lago. And they get into some activities we should not be, as a church," such as fund- raising for or working to defeat specific candidates. Among critics of the Catholic Alliance is Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., who told his fellow bishops during their general meeting in November that he thought the creation of the alliance was an effort to split Catholics from their bishops, who already have organizations to repre- sent them legislatively. But Maureen Roselli, direc- tor of the Catholic Alliance, told Catholic News Service that her organization =can never be an alternat'.rve  the bishops' conference. We don't presume to be the voice of the Roman Catholic Church any more than any otherorganiza ` , tion that calls itselfCatholir,.. , "We're trying to priOritise J our agenda and the bisholmuPe a'priority. Right now,. I'mhe ; only pe00on on the 0000600rc,Al- ! liance staff," she added. Ms. Roselli works out of the ! Christian Coalition's Wasling- ton office. She said letters have been written to the b isliopa  about meeting with them indi- vidually. In Illinois, the Christian Coalition has already at- tempted to distribute it ter guides through Catholic parishes, said Lago. That's led the Illinois bishops to consider how to generate the type of grass-roots activism employed. by the coalition. =The problem is money," Lago said. "We can't compete. They can put out a million pieces of mail at the drop of a hat."