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February 14, 1997     The Message
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February 14, 1997

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ii  i + Ics urged to unite +, ct poor, vulnerable J. DEBOy Service Ind. (CNS) must put aside par- work togeth- the needs d vulner- at a policy. conference on and policymak_ Scientists to dis- SPects of the wel- [uding the relationship and public , held at the Dame, was University's onLaw Liberal Arts, and the U.S. C,atholic Conference. The conference concluded Feb. 8 with a panel discussion on "Welfare Reform and the Catholic Church," chaired by Auxiliary Bishop William F. Murphy of Boston. Panelists included J. Brian Benestad, professor of theology at the University of Scranton; Father J. Bryan Hehir of Har- vard University; and John Carr, USCC secretary for social devel- opment and world peace. Many of those attending the conference expressed concern about the Personal Responsibil- ity and Work Opportunity Rec- onciliation Act of 1996. The act, which President Clinton signed in August, limits welfare assis- tance to five years and requires the head of every welfare fami- ly to find work within two years in order to remain eligible for benefits. See WELFARE page 2 Groundbreaking ceremonies were held at St. John Chur. h memorial which will be dedicated to the victims of abort Lm on the northeast corner of the parish grounds, Leo Kiesel, pastor; Wilfred Kalb, Mary Ann Nolan, Penny Toy and Don parish council members. story Month includes address on 'undoing:00racisnl Service (CNS) _ lc evil" that U.S. soci- Diana L. on 7. is or eth- renders to another," it is for all Such the said. professor Uni- keynote session which ack History ! by Washing. in COoper- Force on Racism of the Council of Church- ds of Greater Washington. In the main talk Feb. 8, Holy Ghost Father Anthony J. Gittins contrasted the "lie at the heart of every culture" with the mes- sage of the Gospel. The lie, he said, is every cul- ture's tendency to stratify and exclude, to separate its mem- bers into insiders and outsiders, haves and have-nots. "Jesus came to expose the lie" by ministering to and raising up the powerless, those who were crippled or sick or possessed, those who were criminals, pros- titutes and sinners, he said. Hayes cited Jesus' own life as a challenge to those who would stereotype and dehumanize oth- ers. "He was poor, rejected and hungry. He was a criminal in the eyes of many," she said. Hayes said that as a 50-year- old black woman she confronts the triple evils of "racism, sex- ism and classism" on a daily basis. It comes in the form of people of Election. Initiation typically involves four :humenate, Election and Final Initia- Election, catechumens enter the "Elect" full initiation -- baptism, confir- on Holy Saturday. (those already baptized) and cote- they are "neophytes." Day will be observed April 27 at St. available at the Office of Wor- i) 424-5536 or toll-free in Indiana (800) entering Georgetown's theology offices and assuming she's a sec- retary or a cleaning woman, she said. Or people expressing sur- prise at her love of books. Or peo- ple "assuming I'm lost when I enter a conference room or when they see me up on a speaker's platform." Racism "is a part of the warp and woof of our society," she said. "If anything, racism is even more dangerous today because it is less open. It is covert rather than overt. It is the death of a thousand small cuts instead of a knife in the back or the heart." Hayes said she would like to have a T-shirt made proclaim- ing, "Difference is not dangerous -- it is divine" because the diver- sity in humanity is a gift from God. '%Ve have to recognize and love those differences," she said. "We are called Christians because we are followers of Christ. Yet all too often we stray from the path of Christ into the pit of sin, the ugly sin of racism. We refuse to love our brothers and sisters in Christ simply because of their racial, ethnic or other differ- ences." She described the conse- quence of racism as "the pain of seeing hopes destroyed, dreams unfulfilled, homes shattered, opportunity denied because a person is of a different race .... I have fought against this pain my entire life as I have watched my sisters give up their dreams and settle for something less in life, unable to withstand the constant battle. "Racism is the anguish of powerlessness, the frustration of denial, the humiliation of rejec- tion," she added. "It is an act or failure to act which denies the humanity of the other who is dif- ferent. Quite simply put, it is a denial of Christian love." She quoted from the U.S. bishops' 1979 pastoral letter on racism, "Brothers and Sisters to Us": "Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family and violates the fundamental human dignity" of all those called to be children of the same creator God. The basic way to undo racism, she said, is "profoundly simple, yet for that very reason so very difficult to accomplish." It is "removing the blank mask from the face of the other whom we have relegated to the status of nonhuman for so long a time," she said. Getting past stereotypes and learning to see "the human fa of the other" demands "a will- ingness to be open to metanoia, to conversion," she said ..... At the parish level she said that overcoming racism in the church means a willingness to change by opening up parish life to the different histories, tradi- tions and worship styles of minority members. "We must be ready to get out of the way, if necessary, and allow new blood, which brings with it new ideas and under- standings, new ways of being church," she said. "This is very difficult for many of us to do. It is hard for us to accept," she said. "But it must be done." February is Catholic Press Month New and renewed subscriptions to the Message are being accepted through the month of February. New subscriptions begin March 7 and continue through February 1998. The fee -- $17.50 for an individual subscription -- remains unchanged from 1996. The Message is published each Friday except the Friday following Christmas, Subscribers may call Benedictine Sister Mary Etta Kiefer, (812) 424-5536 or toll-free in Indiana (800) 637.1731. ................. . .......  .............