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February 2, 1990     The Message
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February 2, 1990
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana February 2, 1990 II I Pope tells Muslims that Catholics want to build more 'human' image By JOHN THAVIS Catholic News Service BAMAKO, Mall (CNS) -- Pope John Paul II told West Africa's predominantly Muslim population that Catholics are not just "spectators of everyday realit" but want to help build their societies in a more "human" image. As if to demonstrate what he meant, the pope mingled Jan. 28 with some 200 sufferers of Hansen's disease in a leprosy clinic in Guinea-Bissau, telling them he loved them and con- sidered their fate a "scandal" caused in part by poverty and neglect. Then the pope-dropped in unexpectedly on a nearby village, where astonished families invited the pontiff in- side their dusty, clay-brick homes. Later in the day, the pope went to Mali, where he ex- plained that the key to the church's credibility was "a real unity between word and deed." It was a message the pope repeated several times throughout his Jan. 25-Feb. 1 visit to five desperately poor countries where Catholics play a disproportionate role in help- ing the needy and the sick. In Cape Verde, the only predominantly Catholic stop on the pope's trip, the pope urged those forced to emigrate to remember the poor people back home. The pope's stop at the church-run Cumura leprosy clinic outside Bissau coincided with World Leprosy Day. In a message, the pqpe noted that the disease, which affects 5 million Africans, is "almost always associated with condi- tions of poverty, inadequate health care, abandonment and neglect." He said "the frequency of the disease, when compared with the relatively limited cost of the resources needed to eliminate it completely, must be considered a scandal for the whole interna- tional community." That was especially so, he said, because the "ravaged ap- pearance" of leprosy victims is familiar to everyone in today's world of instant communica- tions. The pope gently touched the heads of the patients and kissed the children who lined up along a dirt road through the community. Sevezal reached out to the pope with fingerless hands. The clinic, managed by Fran- ciscan missionaries, is con- sidered the best of its kind in West Africa, where leprosy is endemic. Patients live in homes around the medical facilities, weaving and tending fruit trees for a living. i St. Mary's Counseling Center 'Private & Confidential Reasonable Rates Flexible Hours A (812)479-4300 I[] On the drive back to Bissau, according to a 'Vatican spokesman, the pope noticed a group of houses and said he wanted to pay an impromptu visit. As the white-robed pontiff walked up to the first hut, children went running through the village with the news, and a crowd soon formed. The pope was welcomed in- side by an elderly man who sat in a chair quietly, holding a withered arm. The only other things in the room were a water can and four rocks placed on the dirt floor. The pope stood quietly for a few moments and said aloud, "Here, too, liberty is en- dangered." The papal press spokesman, Joaquin Naqarro-Valls, later asked the pope what he had meant. The pope explained that he was thinking of Eastern Europe, where freedoms were limited by ideologies, and then of Africa, where they are threatened by poverty, lack of education and world indif- ference. The pope emphasized that he considered his visit to Africa "providential" because it could help turn world attention back to the continent's basic needs, Navarre-Vails said. As the old man's family filed into the house, the pope greeted them one by one and smiled as a small boy began crying. "Maybe he's afraid," the pope remarked. As the pope left to visit another house, his personal secretary slipped the eldest son a $100 bill. The per-capita annual in- come in Guinea-Bissau is the equivalent of $185, according to U.S. State Department figures which are somewhat dated. The national minimum wage is around $11 per month -- not considered sufficient for a minimum standard of living, the State Department says. The pope's two days in Guinea-Bissau and Mali brought him to countries where Catholics and Christians are a tiny minority. In several public talks, he sought to explain how the Catholic faith and the building-up O f society are close- ly intertwined. Departing Bissau Jan. 28, he said the lepers' situation was similar to many others in the region who need help in facing "paralyzing" social ills and shortages. "It probably would not take miracles" to help these people, he said, but rather a few "con- crete gestures of love." He told his audience that Christ acted in charity and that "evangelization is closely tied to attention to people's real needs." The poor and sick should "feel loved and es- teemed by the church and by the pope,"-he said. While Catholics in Guinea- Bissau make up only 5 percent of the population, they run four hospitals and 17 dispensaries a substantial portion of the country's medical system. Guinea-Bissau has one of the highest infant mortality rates and the lowest life expectancy in Africa. In Mall, Catholics are only 1 percent of the population, but manage six hospitals and dozens of other medical and welfare centers. The pope used social issues as a bridge to his Muslim listeners in Mall, too. But he also stressed that Christians and Muslims share basic beliefs. "We're all members of one human family. We live in the same world. We love life," he told some 1,500 youths -- most of them Muslim -- in a sports stadium in Bamako Jan_., 28. Both religions see men and women as creatures of God, he added. In a Mass for some 25,000 people in Bamako the same day, the pope told Catholics that "the plan of God, which is a plan of salvation, involves those who recognize the Creator, and in particular our Muslim brothers who profess the faith of Abraham and who worship, as we do, the one and merciful God." The pope's language might have struck a note with Muslims since each of the 114 chapters of their holy book, the Koran, begins: "In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Mer- ciful." He praised the good Christian-Muslim relations in School Continued from page 7 the growth of-our community; and "Whereas, hundreds Of school personnel, city officials, parents and students themselves have helped to improve the quality of our Catholic schools; Now therefore, I Jackson L. Higgins, Mayor of the City of Mount Vernon, Indiana, in recognition thereof, do hereby proclaim January 28 -- February 3, 1990 as Catholic Schools Week in the City of Mount Vernon, Indiana. St. Joe's Science Fair Students at St. Joseph School, Vandei'burgh County, who won awards in the science fair included: Seventh graders -- Heather Kleinschmidt, first; Kayla Bar- ran, second; Kim Gries, third; John Hutchinson and Scott Tin- die, fourth. Mali and said Muslims can count on the church for con- tinued help in solving the coun- try's problems. More than half the stadium was reserved for diocesan delegations, and the rest was filled by Bamako Muslims, who cheered and waved when the pope passed in an open car. A banner that hung nearby read: "Religious tolerance for a united Mali." One priest who journeyed with 60 parishioners to the Mass site said his local Muslim community had chipIied in to pay for the transportation. Wherever the pope went in the capital, he was greeted by large crowds of onlookers. Out- side the cathedral, where the pope addressed priests and nuns, security nearly broke down under the crush of people who sought a glimpse of the pope. In other events on the first half of his trip: --The pope firmly de- nounced polygamy in Guinea- Bissau, where having more than one wife is common, even among Catholics. During a Mass in the capital, Bissau, the pope told about 20,000 people that Christ pro- claimed "absolute fidelity" to one's spouse. He said Chris- tianity stands opposed to "a world that has accepted tradi- tions of polygamy and has tolerated scorn for woman, who is often considered more an ob- ject than a person." Missionaries said polygamy is considered a status symbol in Guinea-Bissau, where the social standing of women remains  much lower than men. -- The pope suggested that Guinea-Bissau's one-party, Marxist-inspired state should re-examine the ideological con- tent of education programs. Shortly after his arrival in the country Jan. 27, the pope said schooling should be based on a real humanism open to transcendent values, not an ideology that is "limited, of this world only and self- sufficient." Guinea-Bissau's education minister proposed last year to move away from the Marxist line in public education, but the idea was rejected by the rul- ing revolutionary party, the African Party for the In- dependence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. The minister, however, has asked church help in drawing up a new, .similar proposal this year. -- In Cape Verde, the pope said the poor climate and the lack of jobs had created a cycle of "forced emigration" for many young people. "I know the difficulties one encounters in trying to enter in- to a new social and work en- vironment," he said. He urged social institutions in other countries to do all that is "just and useful" to help new ar- rivals. Then he aimed his remarks at those who have joined the ex- odus from the country, in- cluding as many as 200,000 who have moved to the United States. "In making a living and seek- ing better conditions in distant places, may they never forget their native land and the people who live there," he said. Pope John Paul was sched- uled to visit Burkina Faso Jan. 29, then continue on to Chad, the last country on his itinerary, Jan. 3{). Eighth graders -- Angola Hart- man, first; Elissa Freeman, se- cond; Dianne Dippel, third; Ann Hertel, fourth. Memoriars Decathlon team The Academic Decathlon team at Memorial High School, Evansville, won second place at the Regional Competition in Jasper. Team members are Ann Marie I Dieter, Alex Harshbarger, John Honnigford, Jennifer Jenkins, Nick Knowlton, Matt Leingang, Chris Lueneburger, Amy Schenk and Fred Schmalz. The team will compete at the state competition in Indianapolis Feb. 10. Please send information for SCHOOL NOTEBOOK to Mary Ann Hughes, The Message, P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724. ii i DONUT BANK 5 Convenient Locations I I I " H I* i "Where customers send their friends!" Open nightly til 9 p.m. Ucbt00lhor 8 Son OLD US 231 SOUTH - JASPER, IN - 482-2222 ii i i ii iii i| ii 1, 9 t ' I