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February 8, 1991     The Message
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February 8, 1991
 

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4 Editorial The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana February 8, 1991 By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor How do you pray f 3r the living and the dead? I was about to suspect someone was stealing my Newsweek magazine when I suddenly realized my mistake. A whole week had not yet gone by. Usually time flies by so quickly that one week's deadlines seem to erupt immediately after the deadlines of the week before. That has not been the case in the past few weeks. At least not for me. It is not that time has not dragged slowly by. Rather, so much has happened in the last few weeks that it just does not seem possible that one month can possibly hold it all in. We are at a point where the war in the Persian Gulf can still be counted in days. Yet the developments command our attention before work, after work and late at night. As if there were three days worth of news events packed into the space of a single 24-hour period. Time expands to fit the needs. And that thought brings us to Lent. Forty days are about to be stretched out for us end-to-end toward Easter. Time is available for us to prepare, and when we arrive at the end of the preparation period, we will find a joy so great that it will take us three days just to begin to explore every aspect of it. Last year, at the beginning of Lent, readers of this column were invited to send in personal ex- amples of how they lived out what we used to call "the corporal and spiritual works of mercy." That's what we still call them, these actions taken in the name of the Lord to help another -- to feed the hungry and to give drink to the thirsty, to ad- monish the sinner and to counsel the doubtful, and all of the others. An educator who responded to the invitation told of school children who fed the hungry and clothed the (almost} naked. A reader who visited her neighbors -- a woman in a wheel chair and her daughter -- realized that both of them were in a kind of prison. There were other responses, printed in the editorial columns that filled the Fridays of Lent. This year, I want to focus some attention on just one of the "works" -- to pray for the living and the dead. It seems appropriate as we continue to hear of war waged in the Middle East. How do you fulfill this challenge of the Lord to pray for the living? Enemies and friends, they are all the children of God. Do you gather at a public place to pray? Do you pray alone? Or with your family? Are your prayers formal? Recited? Spontaneous? Or not even spoken? I will be pleased to hear from you. Washington Letter War is not the way, Catholic bishops say By JERRY FILTEAU Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "When I speak of peace, they are ready for,war" {Ps 120:7). If the Psalmist were living to- day, he might well have written those words in the name of the U.S. Catholic bishops in the days immediately surrounding the start of the Persian Gulf war. A Catholic News Service analysis of nearly 100 statements by U.S. bishops before and after Jan. 16 in- dicates that: -- Opposition to starting war was virtually unanimous beforehand. -- Once war began, nearly all the bishops continued to harbor serious questions or reserva- tions about its morality. -- Before the war they focus- ed primarily on the just war principle of last resort; once it began, their main emphasis shifted to the issues of propor- tionality and moral limitations on the conduct of war -- and to the immediate pastoral con- cerns of a nation at war. CNS did not find a single statement by a U.S. bishop before Jan. 16 saying military hostilities at that time would be Th,b,I0000SSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville IN 47724 .O1 69 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evans'ille Published weekly except la:t week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville. Publisher .... Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Associate Publisher .... Ray. Joseph Ziltak Editor .................. Faul Laingang Production Mgr ............... Phil Beget CIr,/Adv. Mgr ........... Pe JI A. Newland Address ell communication2 to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47;'2,-0169. Phone (812) 424.5536. Subscription rate: $1 7.50 per year Single Copy Price: 50 Entered as 2od class matte, at the post of- rice in Evansville, IN 477(1. Publication number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to the Office of Publication. Copyright 1991 Catholic Pre o! Evansville i justified. To the extent there was a division among them, it was be- tween those who said war would probably violate the just war principles -- a majority -- and those who said it definitely would do so -- a minority, but a substantial one, drawn mainly from the ranks of the 91 U.S. bishops wlio now belong to the Catholic peace organization, Pax Christi U.S.A. Where have the nation's bishops lined up since the war began? Pastorally, the bishops have spoken largely with one voice on several key issues con- fronting a nation at war: -- Faith demands prayer and penance. The bishops em- phasized the need for prayers for the troops and their families, for an early and just peace, and for all the victims of war, including the Iraqis. Those who oppose the war must honor and support the soldiers fighting it. -- Those who support the war must respect the rights of those who canscientiously op- pose war in general or the Per- sian Gulf war in particular, recognizing that disagreement is not disloyalty. Morally, the bishops were clearly in agreement that several tests of a just war were met but divided on others. They clearly agreed that Kuwait has suffered a brutal and unjust aggression, and its liberation and protection from further aggression constitutes a just cause. They also agreed that Kuwait's liberation and protec- tion from aggression was a right intention for entering war. They cautioned, however, that some intentions such as punishing Iraq or protecting oil supplies cannot serve as justifications for war. Not all bishops agreed that war had been entered as a last resort. Among statements reviewed by CNS only one, by Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston, ex- plicitly defended and approved the Bush administration's argu- ment that all peaceful alter- natives had been exhausted before the decision to go to war was reached. Even Cardinal Law told reporters Jan. 18 that on the eve of the war he had spoken with President Bush by telephone and "expressed to him my con- viction at that time ... that economic and diplomatic ef- forts would be the better way to go." The vast majority of the bishops followed the lead of Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarc- zyk, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. "History will judge whether or when this war should have been launched," he said -- signaling that the "last resort" debate was not settled, but also implying that with the war in progress it might be more fruit- ful for the bishops to concen- trate on issues of its goals and conduct. Some bishops, however, reaf- firmed their prewar judgments that the war was not a last resort and publicly opposed Bush's decision to go to war. Among these were Arch- bishop Francis T. Hurley of An- chorage, Alaska; Bishops Michael H. Kenny of Juneau, Alaska; Kenneth E. Untener of Saginaw, Mich.; and Walter F. Sullivan of Richmond, Va.; and Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton of Detroit. The main moral concerns ad- dressed by the bishops after Jan. 16, however, centered on issues of proportionality of ends and means and on the norm of pro- tection of non-combatants. Out of the many different ap- proaches.bishops took in ad- dressing those issues, several main themes emerged: -- Many warned against in- discriminate bombing, attacks directed at civilians, and escalation to the use of non- conventional weapons. Their criticisms of actual conduct in the first two weeks of war, however, were all directed at Iraqi actions, not at.the U.S.-led multinational forces. -- Some bishops asked if the allies' legitimate goals and ex- pectations of a victory were morally proportionate to the death and destruction the war would bring before it ended. -- Several warned against ex- panding the goals beyond Kuwait's liberation, to such things as destroying Iraq or eliminating Saddam Hussein. -- Numerous bishops quoted recent statements against the Gulf war by Pope John Paul II, especially his warning that war was "an adventure without return" and his comment that "war cannot be an adequate means for completely solving problems existing between na- tions." They differed in how they in- terpreted or applied such statements, however. Some quoted the pope to argue that war today is simply not a moral- ly permissible course of action, while others cited his words as an urgent plea for the earliest possible cessation of hostilities, with an emphasis on negotia- tions as the key to a lasting peace. The remarkably frequent and explicit references to just war principles by President Bush in defense of his decision to go to war -- and by military officials describing their precautions to hit only military targets and avoid civilian casualties -- sug- gested that U.S. officials have taken seriously the moral issues raised by the bishops. As one Catholic official described it, the president and top military brass have been talking about the war in terms "you used to hear only in .the seminary classroom." Letters to the editor requested Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters submitted for consideration must be signed, although the name of the writer may be withheld at the writer's request. All letters submitted for publication must include the address and daytime telephone number of the writer so that authorship may be verified. Bishol ,'s schedule The following activities and events are listed on the schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: