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March 21, 1997     The Message
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March 21, 1997

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21d997 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 op's Forum- What is there left to say? the Con- States will once law to the presi- re which will called "partial birth act of to light that som6 that the pres- his veto of an as an it his testimo- By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER bit of mat- at any time is killing of the never to be tolerated. There is no ratio- it, the Indiana General Present similar legislation to Governor prohibiting "partial birth abortions" l I are not powerless. We can-- we must our belief that intentional killing no raatter the procedure, is wrong. We t to testify to our belief. Write, call, members of the General Assembly and Congress who represent you and let your faith be known. When the law is presented either to the president or to the gov- ernor, act as responsible citizens of both Indiana and the United States by communicating the urgency of protecting the lives of the unborn from this act of infanticide. However, that is not enough. Enemies of human life are not still. They are discriminating, silent for the moment. They are lurking in the cloaks of "health or life of the moth- er," "quality of life for the frail elder- -, ly," "productive life for the physically and mentally disabled," afreedon from pain for those wishing to die." This past week we learned from the media that boxes containing aborted fetuses were discovered in a field in California by children. The children were at play. They were innocent. Then they discovered the contents of the boxes. The "rape of their innocence" was effected by purveyors of death for hire. That discovery could have been "Anywhere USA." When there is little respect for life in a culture of violence and death, one cannot expect respect for the dead. Children are not exempt from the ravages of ruthless and self-serving adults. How could you explain to your children this bar- baric act of disrespect for human beings? What would you tell frightened children to give them reas- surance of safety, that the same ones who killed the unborn would not as quickly kill them to silence them or "get rid of them" if they had a health prob- lem? Respect for life does not come from books. As the Sacred Scriptures remind us, it is written in our hearts. No one has to tell us. Even the youngest of children knows that hurting or killing another is wrong. Children are conscious of their wrongdoing when they "assassinate" their peers by lies. Respect for each other does not need to be taught. It does need encouragement and reinforce- ment. Each one's dignity as a person must be held inviolate. Disrespect for life is taught. Hatred for another is learned. Self-centeredness is pernicious. Violence and killing are the predictable outcomes. Jesus, loving us unto death, has taught us oth- erwise. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to turn the other cheek when injured. We are to love even our enemies. Respect for life allows no room for violence of any kind. Those are the hard truths for those who dare to be followers of Jesus. ,!ii ,ago, a bank new b a CUstomer ately five inches Ns)  At a e and on are oppo- lit- 1. fore the by national keep the Spokes. direc- to Life COnvened execu- Were per. of fetal Change: Boon or bane by one-and-a-half inches. It could perform all basic mathematical functions -- add, subtract, mul- tiply, divide -- as well as square roots. The executive was quite proud of his new toy and the friend was impressed with its small size and many capabilities. When asked about the cost of the calculator, the executive blushed a little, leaned forward and said softly: "Don't tell my board of -directors, but it cost $400!" Today you can buy a pocket calculator the size of a credit card with the same features, and more, for less than $15! Cal.culators and computers are better, smaller, faster, less expensive and much more pow- erful than they were 10 years ago, 10 months ago, or even last week! Nowhere is the inevitabil- ity of change more evident and dramatic than in the electronics industry. "Change" in our lives is as cer- tain as death and taxes; it's a boon for some and a bane for oth- ers. Let's look at change from a couple of different vantage points. If your year of birth was earlier than 1945, you were born before now common things like televi- sion, yogurt, dishwashers, elec- tric blankets, FM radio, polio shots, penicillin, frozen foods, air conditioning, instant coffee, cred- it cards, clothes dryers, panty- hose, contact lenses and Frisbeesl AARP members have witnessed incredible changes! Change comes in all shapes and sizes in our lives. There are big changes: births, marriages, job changes, new homes, serious ill- ness, death, etc.; and there are small, one-drop-at-a-time changes like acquiring knowledge and experience, baldness, the four sea- sons, the growth of a child, land erosion, aging, pollution, etc. We know that, over time, even the smallest changes can have enormous consequences. Since this column is about steward- ship, let's consider a small stew- ardship of treasure change which would have a profound and extraordinary impact on the Catholic Church in southwest- ern Indiana. At the present time in our diocese the average week- ly per-household offertory con- tribution is $10.73. Reliable data from several sources indi- cate that the median annual household income level for the territory that is included in our diocese is $32.770. This means that average annual offertory contributions amount to about 1.7 percent of household income. What if we could raise our annual percent-of-income giv- ing average to 3 percent, an increase of just over one per- cent. The weekly per-household offertory contribution would rise to an average of $18.91, an increase of $8.81 over the pre- sent level -- about the price of a medium pizza. What would be the result of this increase? Last year, offertory collections in the 73 parishes of our diocese totaled $18,412,740. An average increase in offertory collections to 3 percent of household income would result in annual offertory collections totaling $32,427,553, a whopping $14,014,813 (76 per- cent) increase over last year! But why stop here? What if average giving were 4 percent of income? Average weekly contri- butions would rise to $25.21. Total diocesan offertory collections would leap to $43,236,738 -- an incredible 132 percent incvae}::.: Now let s grab for the stars: if ........ we would ever reach the general- ly suggested stewardship oftrea- sure -tithing level of 5 percent of income to our parishes, the results are mind-boggling: aver- . age weekly per household giving would be $31.50; total annual diocesan collection income would explode to $54,045,922; parishes could afford world-class religious education programs, the less for- tunate would be cared for, all schools would be tuition-free, and  parish building expansions and additions would be paid for in record time. Isn't that the kind of change all of us would welcome? So what are we waiting for? 00ent emerges from hearing on partial-birth abortion deformity or danger to the moth- pro-abortion groups has reached political construct, designed to tial-birth abortion procedure.  such a fever pitch." In partial-birth abortions, used in the second and third trimester, the unborn child is partially' delivered, feet first, before surgi- cal scissors are stabbed into the base of the infant's head. The child's brain is then removed by suction, allowing for easier deliv- ery of the collapsed head. Legislation to ban the proce- dure passed beth houses of Con- gress last year, but the Senate failed to override President Clin- tons veto. The bill has been rein- troduced in both House and Sen- ate, and a House vote was expected by March 20. Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, criticized an alternative proposal by Sen. Thomas A. Daschle, D-S.D., that would ban partial-birth abortions only in the third trimester and would allow the procedure if the mother's health was at risk. The Daschle legislation Uis a provide political cover for law- makers who want to appear to their constituents as ifthey have voted to restrict partial-birth abortions, while actually voting for a hollow measure that is not likely to prevent a single partial- birth abortion, and which there- fore is inoffensive to the pro-abor- tion lobby,  Johnson said. During his testimony, Johnson introduced his 6-year-old son, Thomas, who was born 13 weeks premature and weighed only one pound at birth. When he was born, Thomas "looked as small and hairless as a skinned squirrel," Johnson added. He is one of a kind. But so are they all." Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judicia- ry Committee, said the hearings were called to "set the record straight, correct the false state- ments, and clarify any resulting misconceptions about the timing, method and frequency of the par- But several of the Witnesses said there is no sure way to esti- mate the number of partial-birth abortions or the masons that women have them, because most abortion providers do not report on what procedure they use or ask their patients why they want an abortion. "No statistics exist,  said Vicki Saporta, executive .direc- tor of the National Abortion Fed- eration, who urged members of Congress to stop playing poli- tics with women's reproductive health care.  Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D- Mass., called the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act unconstitu. tional and said flit goes forward with its clear constitutional defects, it will deserve the veto that is waiting for it." Please see page 4, for how to contact lawmakers to express your views on partial birth abor tion. er's life. Most partial-birth abor- tions involve healthy women and healthy fetuses, he told the American Medical News in early March. Fitzsimmons did not testify March 11, but the president of his organization, Renee Chelian, said the partial-birth procedure was part of"our quest to contin- ue to develop safe methods of abortion so that we can provide the best medical care," Helen Alvare, director of plan- Ring and information for the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, saidsupporters ofpar- tial-birth abortion have contin- ued to repeat "false information" and "distortions" even after Fitzsimmous' comments. The bishops' conference "has participated in many, many pub- lic debates regarding different aspects of abortion for decades," Alvare said. "We would be hard pressed to find one in which the level of deception and insult by