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March 24, 1989     The Message
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March 24, 1989
 

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4 Editorial The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana March 24, 1989 By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor Returning from captivity to find our family again Every once in a while I have the sudden feel- ing that something I have just found out has been understood by many other people for a long time. I knew from the beginning of its construction that Interstate 64 would run from St. Louis to Louisville and on into West Virginia. I have driven Interstate 55 north from St. Louis to Chicago. Years went by before I understood that even-numbered highways went east and west while odd-numbered highways went north and south. Knowing a few facts does not necessarily lead to any greater understanding. One of my favorite stories from the Old Testa- ment is a story about the people coming back from Babylonian captivity. Ezra finds the Book of the Law. I can't claim to tell you the total meaning of the story, but I can tell you what it means to me. What happened to Ezra was like what would happen if you were looking through the remnants of your grandparents' belongings, and you discovered the passport of an immigrant ancestor. "So this is how we got here," you would discover. What was once dim and dusty past would spring into the center of your present. "This is how we came to be." i Vatican Letter You would have to tell everyone in the family what it was that you had found. You would have to hold up the passport and say, "Look what it says here." In the story told in the book of Nehemiah, Ezra finds the records of the dealings of his people with their God. "Look what it says here," he told all the men and women and children old enough to understand. It was a family discovery. Ezra read to them hour after hour, and the people were happy to hear the details of their past which suddenly swept into the present. They found out how they came to be. They found identity. After the reading, the people celebrated. They renewed the covenant God had made with their ancestors. The people had a feast. They ate rich foods and drank sweet wine/and they shared with those who did not have anything. This story has been a favorite of mine ever since I became a lector and realized how the past becomes present in the words which are read at the assembly. The sudden realization I had, which I suspect most people already knew, is that one portion of the Easter vigil will provide us with this same marvelous opportunity -- to make present again the history of the people of God. The Scripture readings are stories of signifi- cant transactions in our early family -- the passport to a new land, the authorization to travel, the deed to our inheritance, the marriage license of God and his people. At the Easter vigil, the scripture readings go on and on, almost as long as the entire morning's worth of readings Ezra found for the people. The readings at the vigil are the stories of our salvation -- family stories from the past which suddenly thrust their way into our present. They are the accounts of the relationship of God with his people. Whether our route to Easter has been on odd- or even-numbered highways, it is time to gather for the celebration. We have returned from captivi- ty and isolation to find our family again; it is time to end fasting and "giving up" and to celebrate with rich foods and sweet wine and to share what we have with those who do not have anything. It is Easter. Even the captivity of death is broken, in the new and present reality of our fami- ly relationship with our God. Tension marks relations between Vatican, world's bishops By AGOSTINO BONe NC News Service VATICAN CITY (NC) -- Before the major meeting of U.S. bishops, Vatican officials and Pope John Paul II, many participants emphasized the tension between U.S. society and the often countercultural message of Catholicism. They predicted that this, more than the unwinding ten- sions between the U.S. hierar- chy and the Vatican, would be the focus of the meeting. The prediction turned out to be true. But also emerging from the March meetings was the underlying dynamic tension ex- isting between the Vatican and the world's bishops on the cut- ting edge of evangelization in hostile or unreceptive societies. The Vatican wants strict adherence to the faith, while many bishops favor as much flexibility as possible to make the faith meaningful to their listeners. All agree on the need to evangelize. The dynamic ten- Th.MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave Evansville, IN 47724-Ol.J9 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last wee,: n December by the Catholic Pres: of Evanevills. Publisher ........ Bklhop Franc!s R. Shea Auociate Publisher .... Ray. Joseph 'iliak Editor .................. Paul Lelp gang production Mgr ............... Phil 3Oger Adclmu all communications to P.C,. Box 4189. Evansville, IN 47724-0188. Phone (S12) 424-6538. Subaorlptlon rate: $17.50 per year Entered u 2nd class matter at tht, post of-' rice In Evansville. IN 47701. PJblication number 843800. Postmaster: Retum PO) forms 3579 to the Office of Publication. Copyright 1989 Catholic Preu of Evansville sion comes from the different emphasis: Do you put the stress on strengthening the proclama- tion of traditional teachings or on adapting the way you pre- sent the teachings in specific cultural circumstances? At the March meeting, the situation was phrased as the tension between Catholic doc- trine as "the one and only path to salvation" and "trying to make things 'work' in our culture." The pope said the former, while Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York said the latter. In general, the pope and the Vatican line up on the side of strengthening the proclamation and the world's bishops on the side of adapting. This tension underlies Vatican problems with African bishops over inculturation, Latin American bishops over political activism and Asian bishops over use of non- Christian spiritual methods. It is the tension that has caus- ed the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education to call an in- ternational meeting of Catholic educators to revise draft norms for Catholic universities. The norms are meant to en- sure that sound doctrine is taught in class and that the campus reflects an overall Christian lifestyle. Many educators around the world, however, say the draft rules will not work legally, academically or culturally in their countries. This dynamic tension helps explain the specific trouble spots between the Vatican and the U.S. hierarchy over the rela- tionship of bishops to theologians. It also explains Vatican worry over a 1988 AIDS policy state- ment bythe 50-member U.S. bishops' Administrative Board, which said the bishops would not oppose factual information about condoms in public AIDS education programs, The Vatican feared this would be in- terpreted as a weakening of the church's blanket condemnation of all artificial means of con- traception. The fear was also expressed by a number of U.S. cardinals and archbishops, showing how wrong it is to overgeneralize regarding on which side of the dividing line bishops and Vatican officials stand. In- dividuals frequently cross the dividing line on specific issues. This dynamic tension also cuts across ideological barriers. Contributing to much of the dynamic tension between U.S. President Continued .from page 1 dinal Casaroli gave him a per- sonal note of greeting from the Holy Father. I understand they had a very cordial and substan- tive meeting." The priest said that also at- tending the afternoon meeting were U.S. Secretary of State ]ames A. Baker and Brent Scowcroft, the president's na- tional security adviser. According to information from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the White House and the Vatican Em- bassy, guests attending the White House reception along with Cardinal Casaroli and Archbishop Laghi included Cardinals Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago, Bernard F. Law of Boston, Edmund C. Szoka of Detroit, John J. O'Connor of New York, and James A. Hickey of Washington; Cardinal John J. Krol, retired archbishop of Philadelphia; Archbishop John L. May of St. Louis, NCCB and Vatican church officials is U.S. democracy and its use of compromise as a solution- finding tactic in a pluralistic society. "U.S. bishops are the inheritors of a society in which compromise is not evil," said Archbishop John R. Roach of St. Paul-Minneapolis. All this has concrete implica- tions for bishops when it comes to taking a stand on public policy issues that involve im- mutable Catholic teachings, such as abortion. In a session on "the bishop as teacher of the faith," par- ticipants discussed to what ex- tent compromise is allowable in working toward a common good. president; Father Robert N. Lynch, NCCB general secretary; and Archbishop Renalto Mar- tino, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations. The White House had no comment on either the after- noon meeting with Cardinal Casaroli or the evening recep- tion. Alixe Glen, White House deputy press secretary, said it is traditional for the new U.S. president to host the Catholic cardinals at the White House at some point. "This is not unusual. In honor of the (Vatican} car- dinal's visit, the president is hosting a reception," she said at the White House press office as dignitaries began arriving for the festivities, held in the Bush's family residence. Father Lynch said March 21 that the event "was just a very informal reception in the family's living quarters," upstairs in the White House. "They basically gave The participants "were generally agreed that given the democratic process in the United States, we cannot withdraw from the debate early. You remain in the debate beyond the stage where you think you'll win your full point," said Archbishop Roach. The important thing, the par- ticipants agreed, was that com- promise involve tactics to get the point across, not fundamen- tal matters of faith. In reality, this description of compromise also fits the results which often emerge from the dynamic tension between the Vatican and the world's bishops. everybody a tour of the second floor" and mingled with their guests, he said. "There was no formal speech. It was just a very infor- mal gathering," he added. "It was just like any two people who invite friends to their house and begin by giving a tour." Other guests included Secretary of Energy James D. Watkins; William K. Reilly, ad- ministrator of the Environmen- tal Protection Agency and Elizabeth Reilly; White House Chief of Staff John Sununu; Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant and Ann Dechant; business executive J. Peter 'Grace and Margaret Grace; and Thomas P. Melady, a former ambassador to Burundi and Uganda, and Margaret Melody. Cardinal Casaroli March 19 had addressed a forum at Georgetown University, also in Washington.