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February 13, 1998     The Message
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February 13, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Did you see the part where... ? By PAUL R. LEINGANG Editor What do Titanic, Hoosiers, Dead Man Walking and Rudy all have in common? They are movies which provoked discussion in families, according to stu- dents at Mater Dei High School, Evansville. The question was posed, with a request for elab- oration. "Was there a film that generated a discus- sion in your home about faith? In what way?" The answers were varied. Films and TV pro- grams were listed, including Touched By An Angel, Schindler' s List, Michael, The Preacher's Wife, and Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. The ways in which these entertainment offerings generated discussion was varied from family to family. Here are just two of the many possible examples: Kelly S. Martin said that she had been "neither for or against capital punishment" before she watched the movie, Dead Man Walking. After she saw the movie, she became "radically opposed to the death penalty," and her mother agreed with her. After "a fight of wills" between her mother and her father, all the members of her family kept their origi- nal opinions, "but we did talk for hours about it," she said. Steve Jost wrote about Rudy, a movie about a character whose goal is to play football for Notre Dame. Even though Rudy does not have the physical features that allow him to get on the team, the has the "heart of a champion" and practices every day. He gets to play in the last game, and makes an extra- ordinary tackle, sacking the opposing quarterback. "I think it's a good movie that shows a person's faith, said Jost. It shows his determination and his faith in God. Jost admits, though, that a cousin of his "feels it is nothing more than a person trying to get on a football team." This is the stuff that good family discussions are made of: arguments, or "a fight of wills," and differ- ing viewpoints. But the fact is, these films, and many others, were the occasions of earnest family discus- sions about faith and values. I can't help but recall a Gospel account of the Baptism of Jesus. A voice from heaven proclaims that "This is my beloved son," God said, according to what some people heard. Others heard only thunder. Was it an extraordinary event? Or ordinary? Was the Nile red from iron-rich clay deposits in the flood plain? Or did the river run red with blood? Was it good luck that a stranger helped you when you were stranded along the highway? Was it divine providence? Were you "touched by an i angel?" When you tell such a story, believe you? Take the time today to watch a TV movie with your family, or with close good movie or program--not necessarily.! supposed to be a "religious" one. Search the scenes that you response to them, for signs of faith Accept the fact that others will you, but don't abandon your belief. If you have children, take the time the movies and programs they watch: with them. Discuss the values't Engage in conversation with famil)f and then support what is good in and TV entertainment. Take action degrading. As Christians alive in the glory Christ -- the Son of God who became q we know that human dignit) of the divine. That which takes is not. Take the time to know the Comments about this column are or the Christian Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Behind-scenes work may win religious At times in the years since it was first proposed, it's seemed as though a law to address reli- gious persecution in other coun- tries would disappear into fac- tionalized splinters. Evangelicals wanted its focus to be on Christians; Buddhists' involvement grew out of inter- est in freedom for Tibet; and groups including the National Council of Churches and the U.S. Catholic Conference feared the bill would be too narrow and unnecessarily harsh in some circumstances. But changes negotiated in the last couple of months have brought the USCC, the Buddhist groups, several Jewish organi- zations and the evangelicals together behind the revised bill. Its prime sponsor, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., explained at a Feb. 4 conference with the legisla- tion's supporters that it now includes provisions for the White House to waive for humanitarian reasons otherwise automatic sanctions against countries thatare engaging in religious persecution. The revised bill would create an Office of Religious Perse- cution Monitoring in the State Department, instead of in the .White House, as it was origi- nally written. Both changes were supported by the USCC. The bill "will help those who are being persecuted today," Wolf said. "But it will also help those persecuted groups we don't even know about today," and may even keep events from taking place that would lead to future persecution. Among its other provisions, the bill would: -- Ban nonhumanitarian for- eign aid to countries that engage in "widespread and ongoing" acts of persecution. Ban the sale 'of goods and services used for persecution, such as electric shock equip- ment. m Adjust refugee law to treat victims of religious persecution more fairly. -- Affirm broad sanctions imposed by President Clinton against, the government of Sudan, where Islamic extremists target Christians in particular. The Jan. 30 release of annual State Department reports on human rights abroad also focused fresh attention on reli- gious persecution, which, depending on who's defining it, ranges from fairly benign church registration require- ments to torture, imprisonment and murder. A few days later religious per- secution came up at a House hearing on the report, at a White House meeting with clergy heading to China to discuss reli- giocs freedom, and at the meet- ing for supporters of H.R. 2431. Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark, N.J., Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, and Rev. Don Argue, president of the National Association of Evangelicals met Feb. 2 with President Clinton and State Department experts before leaving for China to meet with government and church representatives about religious freedom. At a Feb. 3 hearing of file House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House, compli- mented the State Department for a "dramatic improvement in coverage" of religious per- secution. Though pointing out gaps in information, overall, Shea said, "there is generally greater sen- sitivity to the experience of reli- gious minorities and minority groups.., who are besieged in many countries." Meanwhile, at the Feb. 4 Religious Leaders' Summit onReligious Persecution, New York Times columnist Abe Rosenthal likened the need for public support in fighting religious persecution to the March 13, 1964, murder in New York City of Kitty Genovese, a case that gar- nered worldwide attention. No fewer than 38 people heard the woman's screams as she was being stabbed, yet nobody came to her aid or called police. Most Americans would say they would help someone they heard being attacked outside their own homes, Rosenthal said. But, he asked, "suppose the screaming was not down- stairs but a block away" or in .another city, or another country? "Does God put geographic limitations on how far away you can be before he passes judgment?" Rosenthal asked. The writer was being honored at the meeting for his advocacy against religious persecution. "I didn't want to be a silent witness m one of the 38, no mat- By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) m A couple changes to the bill, a few self-interests set aside and a lot of political maneuvering just may produce a new law to guide U.S. policy on religious persecution abroad. The Freedom From Religious Persecution Act is scheduled to come up for votes in Congress this spring. After a few significant alter- ations in its text and a massive ecumenical lobbying effort, H.R. 2431 appears-likely to pass with broad bipartisan and interfaith support. The one remaining foggy issue was whether the White House would support the changed version, after opposing the bill's earlier incarnation. As of Feb. 6 there had been no com- ment from the White House about the changes. 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711  Wldy newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville PutNished weekly exoapt last week in December by the CMholic Pre. Of Evansville Proc Technan ..............  ................................... P Nar Staff Wer ........................... Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4160, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $18.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Erred as pen0dical mat at the pos office , E.mle, IN 47"/01. Pu/dca nambe 843800. l=omast: Relum POD forrr 3579 to Ofce of C ,9 Catho Press of Evanswe i/: ter how far Rosenthal Earlier at the Msgr. ate general USCC, s sary part consc perse The issue is ! U.S. Catholic rights was Pope in January. And "its to end governments cases, are gious o In an after Rosenthal years of rights, it reader from a : aware most are practicing Until entire issue, ning of the Vacation, Saturday, Feb. 14 through Indiana Legislative Breakfast, Feb. 18, 8:30 a.m. EST. Priests Retirement Board, Catholic 19, 3:30 p.m. Diocesan Pastoral Council, Catholic  21, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST. Confirmation at St. Joseph .... 4 p.m. CST.