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January 23, 1998     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Janu The time between receiving and By PAUL R. LEINGANG Editor I'll never forget the day, some years ago, when the new pastor drove up to our church. He had a compact car of some type, and in the combined space available in the back seat and in the trunk, he had all of his possessions. He and I are not alike. If God loves a cheerful giver, I will have to rely on some other ways to please the Almighty. For me, letting go of the things I have accumulated is always painful. Well, not always. There are many good things in the world that I do not care for, and I could easily give them away, even cheerfull if I had them. A magazine article caught my eye recently. It was about a man who traveled all over the world in search of information about some pearls, some partic- ularly large and unusual ones. The man held his pearls, showed them, studied them, loved them. I could have given them away -- or maybe traded them for something that I would really value. A recent news item caused me some discomfort, a kind of unwholesome greediness that sprang to the top of my mind. The story was about a large portion of land, for sale, along the Ohio River. Such a place I could imagine -- almost20 square miles of fields and forests and riverfront. I could almost see what it would be like to own something as magnificent as that. I have to be honest and admit that there is a Gospel story that never made a strong connection for me. It is that story about a man who learns there is a treasure buried on a certain piece of property. He sells all that he has, so that he can buy the property m but what he really wants is the treasure that is buffed there. I would have sold the treasure m especially if it included pearls m so that I could buy more property.. My thoughtsand reflections on owning land, with or without buried treasure, have been prompt- ed, I am sure, by a recent bout of house-cleaning at my home. My wife is not as attached to our posses- sions as I am. Papers, pamphlets, books, magazines they hold me as strongly bound as would a forested estate overlooking the river. So could a thousand other items that might be useful some day. Read the gospel account (Matthew 13) of the "pearl of great price" and ask yourself what item would you want to own, above all others. Take the time to look at the possessions which have somehow begun to exert ownership over you. Talk with friends or with members of about the things they own. which they feel the greatest What things have you stored away l or in your heart? What would be you would give away? What Take the time today to give away value. Teach a child to share a valued Now that the traditional time of: receiving has passed, and the time abstaining is approaching, away some of the extra possessions irtl What do you have that another could away. : People who insist that everything belongs to God have only temporary use of it. Take more about stewardship. How does your church wealth? Take the time to evaluate the possessions, and how they are used work of the Church in the world today. make whatever changes are called for. Comments about this column prleing@cfm.org or the Christian Family Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Washington Letter Unopen doors: 'Pope of the east' can go to Cuba; why not By JOHN THAVIS Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) Pope John Paul II's trip to Cuba marks another historic mile- stone for a pilgrim pontiff who has opened doors on every con- tinent during the last 20 years. Yet the .visit also carries an irony that is not lost on Vatican officials: In 1998, Pope John Paul is able to travel freely to commu- nist Havana, yet still cannot visit Moscow -- a city liberated from communism eight years ago. Russia is one of a handful of countries where, for reasons not always obvious, the pope is not yet welcome. The topic came up at a Vati- can reception a few days before the pope's departure for Cuba. Those sipping refreshments included members of a Vatican delegation who were set to leave the next day for talks with 4200 N, Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711  Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by Yne Cao#c Press of Evansville I:VoWaer ............. Bishop Geca A, Gettetr Edaor ...................................... Paul R. Lngano ................................... Pa Nea Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $18.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Enteced as periodical matter at  post offe in : Return  0rrr 3579 to Oq of Pate 19 Ca'tol Press a Evar, Orthodox leaders in Moscow. Why does the Polish-born "pope from the East" find it so hard to get into the Russian capital? "We are faced here with deep historical conflicts, and reconcili- ation is a very slow process. You cannot imagine the patience that is needed," Bishop Pierre Duprey, vice president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said with a sigh. In Moscow, the veto on a papal visit comes from the Russian Orthodox Church, whose patri- arch has refused a meeting with the pope on several occasions. President Boris Yeltsin, who will meet in February with the pope, would welcome him if the trip were backed by Orthodox lead- ers, Vatican sources said. The historical conflicts Bishop Duprey was talking about go back to the Catholic-Orthodox schism of the 11th century. Today, building a bridge to Moscow depends less on politics than on the ecumenical mood. Havana is an easier place to visit because those kinds of interreli- gious complexities are absent. "In fact, the pope's visit to Cuba is taking place because there was a common interest, by church and state, and no real obstacles," a Vatican official remarked. In recent years, the aging pope has pressed his aides to make previously impossible trips hap- pen. He finally made it to war- scarred Bosnia in 1997, despite threats and bombs, and he also traveled to Lebanon, after care- ful preliminary planning with the country's Muslims. He has touched down in Sudan, who government liter- ally was waging war on the part _0 f the countD' where most Catholics live. He carried his trav- eling papacy to Tunisia in Mus- lim-dominated North Africa, despite fears that this could be seen as a provocation in the volatile region. After the fall of European communism, the pope made first-ever pastoral visits to a string of former Soviet satellites: Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Albania. In all, he has visited 118 coun- tries throughout the world, in the process changing-the style of the modem papacy. Yet some doors remain closed, even in the pope's native East- em Europe. As in Russia, Ortho- dox resistance in Belarus, Roma- nia and Bulgaria have so far ruled out a papal joumey. Further south along the Mediterranean, Greece also remains on the pope's "no trav- el" list. Again, historic divisions remain with the Orthodox Church, the officially recog- nized religion in Greece, mak- ing a papal reception in the country highly problematic. Vatican officials sometimes note that even in countries where Catholic-Orthodox ten- sions have been defused by ecu- menical agreements, such as Armenia, the local faithful miy not be quite as ready as their own spiritual leaders to wel- come a papal visit. If Moscow is the gateway to much of Eastern Europe, Jerusalem is the opening to the pope's hoped-for travels in the Middle East. The pontiff has announced that for the year 2000, he wants to travel the lands of the church's early development, such places as jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, lran, Israel and, above all, Jerusalem and the nearby city of Bethlehem. But the stalled Mideast peace process does not bode well for any of this. What it may come down to, some Vatican officials believe, is papal determination. As one official said, the pope has offi- cially extended the holy year celebrations to Jerusalem for the year 2000, and he will not want to skip that side of the jubilee. In Egypt, home to several mil- lion Christians, recent Islamic terrorist attacks have cast an additional shadow on a poten- tial papal visit. As for e south- ern Persian Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Vati- can officials just shake their heads: It's hard enough to get a priest into these countries, let alone the pope. The pope has never visited Eritrea, Ethiopia or Somalia, a region where civil strife has died down in recent years, to the point where at least Further the biggest hole map. Vatican even talking about t ity, having country's Asin support of Church that some forms of makes the unlikely Closer to made of his most mid-January Hall, less than Vatican City. trip in more thar ly because marked by state tensions. It was, ration for Bishop's Confirmation at St. Benedict, Evar 24, 4:30 p.m. CST. Sunday Mass at Holy Trinity, Evansville, . 10:30 a.m. CST. Confirmation at St. Mary, Ireland, Sunday, EST. Council of Priests, Catholic Center, CST. Council of Priests and Diocesan Catholic Center, Monday, Jan. 26, 3 p.m.  Catholic Education Week, Mass, ville, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 8 am. CST. Deans' Meeting, bishop's house, p.m. CST. Evansville Catholic Interparochial High Catholic Center, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m. Catholic Education Week, Mass, Christ ville, Thursday, Jan. 29, 8:30 a.m. Catholic Educat{on Week, Mass, St. Friday, Jan. 30, 8:30 a.m.