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January 30, 1998     The Message
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January 30, 1998
 

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2 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana U.s bishops pledge to aid women in WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bishops from around the Unit- ed States marked the 25th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade with pledges to help any preg- nant women in need and calls for the country to return to its founding principles of equality for all. Individually or in joint state- ments with other bishops from their states in observance of the Supreme Court decision legal- izing abortion, the U.S. church leaders called for what one called a "social revolution" akin to the movement that first Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger urged Catholics in the Diocese of Evansville to join in the post- card campaign that was held in churches Jan. 24-25. At Masses that weekend, Catholics throughout the Unit- ed States were asked to sign postcards to their U.S. senators either thanking them for their opposition to partial-birth abor- tions or asking them to change their stand and vote to override President Clinton's veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Thirty-six thousand sets of postcards, each with one card II of us as individual members of the church must be attentive to the many opportunities which we have to assist mothers and fathers in trouble caused Americans to abolish slavery and then to reject "sep- arate but equal" treatment for African-Americans. The six bishops of Indiana asked Catholics in the state to ask themselves what they are doing to promote alternatives to abortion. "It is not enough to state that abortion is wrong," they said. "We urge Hoosiers every- where to say loudly and clear- ly: "No woman should feel so alone that abortion is seen as her only alternative. No man need feel so trapped or fearful about the new life that he has helped create that he believes there is no other answer than abortion," they added. for Senator Richard Lugar and another for Senator Dan Coates, were distributed to the parishes in the Diocese of Evansville, according to Kristel Riffert at Catholic Charities. The "Minnesota bishops also urged Catholics to join in the postcard campaign. "Any law that fails to respect the dignity of life and promote the good of human persons is a bad law," the Minnesota bish- ops said in their letter. "People, not convenience, not self-inter- est are the center around which law must focus." In Nebraska, where more than 115,000 postcards and informational fliers on partial- birth abortion had been distrib- uted to every Catholic parish in the state, the three Catholic bishops pledged "material and moral support to mothers and their children, before and after birth," as well as "spiritual and emotional hope, healing and reconciliation to anyone affect- ed by abortion." Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss of Omaha and Bishops Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln and Lawrence J. McNamara of Grand Island said abortion has failed to live up to its advocates' claims that it would bring "a world of equality, reduced poverty and more 'wanted' children." Rather, they said, "abortion's destruc- tive tentacles have extended deep into our culture, nurtur- ing a degradation of the miracle of human life in the form of increasingly negative attitudes toward parents with larger fam- ilies; in the numerous cases of young womenor couples killing their newborn children; and in the growing acceptance of so- called euthanasia." Bishop Raymond L. Burke of La Crosse, Wis., said the legal- ization of abortion in 1973 has led the United States to "a kind of moral and political schizo- phrenia which goes unnamed." "As Americans, we present ourselves as the great defend- ers of human rights, including the most fundamental of human rights, the right to life," Bishop Burke wrote in a letter to the Catholics of his diocese. "At the same time, however, we now defend a newly found right, the right of choice to end human life at its beginning and, perhaps at a time far soone than we imagine, at other stages, and at its end, if that human life fails to meet our standards of worthiness or usefulness." Bishop Burke said 25 years of abortion on demand has also harmed the women who decide to have abortions and the men who fathered the unborn children. "All of us as individual mem- bers of the church must be attentive to the many opportu- nities which we have to assist mothers and fathers in trouble, either those contemplating an abortion or those who have cho- sen abortion and now seek rec- onciliation with God and With the human family," he said. Archbishop William J. Leva- da of San Francisco also addressed abortion's damag- ing effects beyond the child in a statement at a Jan. 22 press conference with the Interfaith Committee for Life, mention- ing the high incidence of post- abortion depression among women and the increased like- lihood of family breakdown after an abortion. "Abortion has had a harmful effect on a generation of boys and men, too," he added. "Our culture of easy abortion makes it too easy for men to avoid learning how to be caring husbands and fathers." Archbishop Levada appeared at the press conference with a representative of local evangel- ical churches and women who work for crisis vices in "We anxiety c plate abortion, them to know concern and our1 help," he said. Bishop R. Pierre San Jose, Calif., said! since Roe vs. "measured tion of t and strident shows no progress  moral consensus underlie any sound! laws." But he . hope in the lence about Americans knowledge the debate abortion; and recognition that ethical principles legal for" ( The bishops issued a joint said Roe vs. upon the culture of the history of But they debate over tion offered "a hope" even to realize aborti0n." "Even some' abortion have terize it as a our society," they an evil, but not one." Continued from page 1 In a liturgy in the central city of Camaguey Jan. 23, the pope called on young people to redis- cover Christian virtues and reject the temptations of con- sumerism, free love and social indifference. He criticized the U.S. embargo of Cuba, but said it was not the most important cause of the country's problems. The great challenge facing the island's people is to "return to your Cuban and Christian roots" and start building a "new society.., in which you can be the principal agents of your own history," he said. Some 60,000 people cheered him. Meeting that evening with academics, writers, artists and cultural leaders at the Universi- ty of Havana, with Castro unex- pectedly in attendance, the pope spoke of renewing the "soul" of Cuban culture -- its core of reli- gious convictions and moral values. He focused on a figure respect- ed by church and state in Cuba, Father Felix Varela, a teacher and independence leader in the 19th century who spent much of his life exiled in New York. "He was the first to speak of independence in these lands. He also spoke of democracy, judging it to be the political pro- ject best in keeping with human' nature," the pope said. His audience listened careful- ly, but in silence. In Santiago de Cuba the next day, he quoted the Cuban patri- ot Antonio Macea, who said one cannot love one's country with- out first loving God. The pope called for church operating space in society, for freedom of association and expression, and for protection of human rights. In a welcoming talk, local Archbishop Pedro Meurice Estiu was even more blunt, and he treated Cubans to a nationally televised display of free expres- sion. He complained of a process of depersonalization in Cuba, the result of "paternalism" -- a clear reference to Castro. In Cuba, he added, ideology substitutes for culture and a single party is con.- fused with patriotism. A government official later expressed irritation at the speech, saying the archbishop had gone too far. Santiago was also the site of perhaps the most emotional reli- gious moment of the trip, when the pope crowned the image of the Virgin of Charity of el Cobre. The small wooden stat- ue, which legend says was found floating in the sea in the 1600s, has long been a symbol of national unity. As the pope placed ttre'crown 'e her h'eaG many in the crowd began to cry. In.Havana Jan. 24, the pope visited residents in a church-run hospice for AIDS patients and sufferers of leprosy. He paused to bless and touch each of the men, women and children, and accepted the small gifts they offered him. In a talk, the pope reached out to a group he was unable to visit: Cuba's estimated 500 political prisoners. The pope said they were imprisoned for "ideas which though dissident are nonetheless peaceful" and should be reinserted into society. Earlier, the Vatican had pre- sented Cuban officials with the names of several hundred Cuban prisoners, asking for clemency on humanitarian grounds. The Cuban govern- ment said it would study the possibility, but made no promis- es. One Cuban official later said that no one was in jail in Cuba "solely for his ideas." Before leaving the country, the pope met with leaders of other Christian churches and with Jewish representatives, led a prayer service with priests and nuns and handed a speech to the country's bishops. He endorsed the bishops' calls for access to the Cuban media and a greater role in education. f-[e atsO'Ybferr(d tO the CtttYah' exile community, asking them to cooperate peacefully and constructively in Cuban affairs and avoid "useless confronta- tions." Hundreds of U.S. pil- grims, many of them Cuban- Americans, came to Cuba for the papal visit. In his final speech in Cuba, the pope pronounced his harsh- est words on the U.S. embargo, calling it oppressive, unjust and ethically unacceptable. He said that "imposed isolation" was striking the weakest Cubans and depriving them of the "bare essentials of decent living." "All can and should take practical steps to bring about changes in this regard," he said. 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