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February 17, 1995     The Message
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February 17, 1995
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Febr Taking the time to make a difference A lesson learned in the first grade continued. Kids traded apples, ex- amined them and traded again. Little by little, the first graders began to find their own apples. Mike was able to identify his be- cause it had a bruise near the stem and a dimple on the bottom. Other children made similar discoveries -- marks, bruises and bumps, along with size, shape and color -- all these variable charac- teristics made it possible for them to find their own unique apples. Mike took his story a big step forward, and asked his audience to consider the idea that all of us are like those apples. In a way, God has warmed us ==- each one of us -- in life-giving hands. That's one part of our identity, but there is more. If all of the apples were perfect, the first- graders would never have been able to tell them apart. Just like the apples, Mike concluded, we are imperfect, too. And in a very real way, it is our im- perfections which identify us to our loving God. Our sins and failures -- and our efforts to seek forgiveness and reconciliation -- have much to do with our relationship with God, and with God's people. God knows our bumps and bruises and all of our imperfections -- and loves us anyway. It must have been a powerful lesson for those first graders, since it remained so clear in Mike's ii  Mike Eppler told a fascinating story. Mike is the diocesan director of youth and young adult ministry. He and I were both on the team for a Teens Encounter Christ Week- end, and during a talk he gave to the participants, Mike told a story about an experience he had had in the first grade. After the weekend was over, I asked him if I could use his story in this column, and he graciously gave his consent. Mike told how his first grade teacher had handed out apples to each of the children in the class n about 30 kids, as he recalled. The children were told not to eat the apples, but to look at them. For what seemed an incredibly long period of time for a first grader n probably a few minutes the kids inspected their apples. Then, the teacher collected the apples in a big bag, and added about 10 more. She mixed them up, dumped them out, and asked the children to find their apples -- each child was to find the apple he or she had inspected The extra apples were easy to eliminate from this classroom puzzle. These extra apples -- the ones no kid had held and inspected -- were cold. Cold apples were put aside, and the process By PAUL It. LEINGANG EDITOR memory. It seemed to be a powerful lesson, the teens and adults participating on I've been thinking about it ever since. * * * What was your reaction to that story are your bumps and bruises? If you have children in your home, teach in a religious education class, try to identify their own apples. What is tion? Talk with the children or with your family about the characteristics whi& them. Have you eyer been discriminated cause of some external characteristic color, weight or height  to name a How do your neighbors identify you? good qualities? Or by your faults you identify your neighbors? Does someone in your home need ciled? With family? With neighbors? Church? With God? Take the time to show your for the unique characteristics of someone home, or in your neighborhood c Or, perhaps, help bring about recc make a difference. -...-- Washington Death penalty legislation, opposition get new life after BY PATRICIA ZAPOR "Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) New and tougher death penalty laws may join welfare and tax reform on the list of legislative changes sweeping the country in the wake of Re- publican election victories in 1994. As several states consider re- instating capital punishment, other states and Congress are working on making executions occur more often by shortening the appeals process. But the tide of suppm't for cap- ital punishment is running up against increasingly vocal oppo- sition from Catholic bishops and other church organizations. The bishops of Iowa recently issued a statement voicing their opposition to reinstating the death penalty. It echoed the themes of declarations against capital punishment made over the last year by bishops from Rhode Island, The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekty except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Pubsher .............. Nshop Gerald A. Geelfinger Etor ............................................ Paul Leiugang Pr Manager ................. : ........ Phil Boger Circulation ................................... Amy Housman AdveCng .................................... Paul Newland Stafff writer ................. : .......... Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-O169 (812) 424-5536 Fax: (812) 421-1334 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Off'e of Public, at,on  1995  Pr,==s of Evansv Kansas, Massachusetts, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, North Dakota, Washington state and Florida. Some of those state- ments were made in regard to death penalty bills, others in the context of impending exe- cutions. "We oppose reinstatement of the death penalty to send a message that we can break the cycle of violence, that we need not take life for life," the Iowa bishops said, "We oppose rein- sta[ement of the death penalty to manifest our belief in the unique worth and dignity of each person, made in the image and likeness of God." They also noted that capital punishment is costlier than life- time imprisonment, is ineffective as a crime deteITent, and is dis- proportionately applied to the poor and minorities. New York's Catholic Confer: ence is at the forefront of ef- forts to fight Gee. George Pataki's popular campaign promise of giving New York capital punishment for the first time since the 1970s. Bishops and key church em- ployees have been asked to dis- tribute material from a packet about capital punishment, with sample homilies, graphics and statistical information. So far, at least four New York dio- ceses have sent the material on to all their priests, said Kath- leen Gallagher, associate direc- tor of the New York Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's bishops. All the state's prelates signed a request to the Legisla- ture for a yearlong moratorium on a capital punishment law, ,she said. "We call on all in govern- ment and the public-at-large to begin serious and thoughtful reflection on the violence in our society and the violence which  n state-sanctioned penalty of death would further inflict," said the moratorium petition, It was signed by thou- sands of leaders of various de- nominations, Ms. Gallagher said. Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard helped deliver the pe- titions to the state capitol Jan. 24 and hosted an interfaith prayer service at Albany's Im- maculate Conception Cathe- dral that evening. Support for the death penalty in the Legislature is so strong and the issue was so prominent in the 1994 elec- tions that Ms. Gallagher be- lieves some form of a law is in- evitable. Pataki's predecessor, Gee. Marie Cuomo, was an adamant foe of capita] punish- ment, even as public opinion polls showed a majority of New Yorkers supported it. With that in mind, some op- position efforts are being di- rected at making sure that whatever law is passed pro- vides as much protection as possible for the poor, minori- ties, youth offenders and oth- ers, Ms. Gallagher said. In New York and elsewhere in the country, religious orders also are taking up the fight against capital punishment. The Indiana-based Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods petitioned unsuccess- fully for Gov. Evan Bayh to commute a pending death sen- tence in December. The Dubuque-based Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Sisters of St. Francis are asking Iowa lawmakers to reject death penalty bills. Marist Father Ted Keating, director of justice and peace programs for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, said a prominent component of the organization's new campaign against violence is the link be- tween government.sanctioned killing in executions and soci- etal acceptance of violence. The founder of Catholics Against the Death Penalty said his 3- year-old organization has found a steadily growing niche in providing information on the church's historical and current perspectives on capital punishment. Among the points made by Catholics Against the Death Penalty and other church- based opponents is that while Catholic teaching historically has permitted capital punish- ment in extreme cases to keep the peace, execution is inhu- mane, perpetuates violence and diminishes respect for human life. Modern law-en- forcement techniques and life- long imprisonment are ade- quate protection for society, they argue. Ms. Gallagtler said she's re- ceived dozens of complaints from Catholics who disagree with the bishops and object to church leaders taking a stand against the death penalty. "One woman told me, 'I've al- ready written to Gee. Pataki and told him that as a Catholic I'd be proud to pull the switch,"' she said. "I've been in election the job 11 years ten more angry Leigh the National ish the Death Novem the subject to again, after minor pol "The good membership are responding said. "People come and And the Cat chairs the has become try's most against may soon have S high profile cause. Sister of St. J' Prejean, Walking," a experiences counselor, trayed in a book, Ms. tors Susan Robbins have a funding in start fil with Ms. Sister Prejean. Bishop's sc The following activities and events are schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Monday,Feb, 20, 1: Diocesan Catholic Center, Monday, i Personnel Board 1:30 p.m. Confirmation at Holy day, Feb. 26, 11:30 a.m. CST. Feb. 27 and 28.