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April 10, 1998     The Message
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April 10, 1998

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" ) The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 urges Catholics: Put life before debt poverty literature, compared that Whole in debt; hope deny their . bet- H. of the world's $226 bil- COmpelled to ;on healthcare, pay more cred- to be this way. called upon us to put life before debt. As the year 2000 draws near, a Jubilee year, the Holy Father has said "Christians will have to raise their voice on behalf of all the poor of the world, proposing the Jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought to reducing substan- tially, if not canceling outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 51)." In biblical tradition, a Jubilee year was a time for renewal, when injustices were put right. For us the Millennium repre- sents a new beginning and the opportunity to give the poor in the developing world a fresh start. The Holy Father's call for debt forgiveness for the Mil- lennium stems from this bibli- cal heritage of just treatment for the poor. International debt is a massive weight dragging at the progress of development for the poor. It has mounted as a problem since loans from the West began to flood the developing world in the 1970s. Despite the good intentions behind the funds, money from these loans was often wasted on ill-designed pro- jects. White elephant infrastruc- ture projects litter the develop- ing world Sadly, despots often treated foreign loans as personal cash. Loan has mounted upon loan to the point where many countries realistically have no chance of repaying. All the while debt repayment takes scarce funds away from vital areas like health and edu- cation in desperately poor coun- tries. Ultimately, it is the poorest of the poor who are paying the price for loans they neither asked for nor have benefited from. My brother U.S. bishops and I are echoing our Pope John Paul's call for debt forgive- ness. We ask you to pray and to add your voice to ours. The Church is calling for a pro- gram of debt forgiveness, target- ed at the most heavily indebted countries, which ensures that the money released does not go towards arms purchases or to support military economies, but will be used to meet the social and economic needs of the poor. The World Bank has recog- nized that international debt stands in the way of progress for many of the world's poor. In response the bank launched its Heavily Indebted Poor Country initiative. In April, Uganda will be relieved of $340 million of its external debt. Uganda is to use the funds released to invest in the country's future by financ- ing primary education. While the World Bank's initia- tive is a step in the right direc- tion, much more can and should be done. Under the World Bank's initiative, besides Ugan- da, only Bolivia and Guyana will benefit from debt relief before the Millennium. In order to give hope to the poor and to grant nations the key to freeing themselves from the poverty trap, debt forgive- ness needs to be far more ambi- tious than the World Bank ini- tiative. Let us follow the words of the Holy Father and raise our voices on behalf of all the poor of the world and call for a new beginning for those in need to mark the New Millennium. Easter Prayer ...... See the Easter letter to the Diocese of Evansville from Bishop Gerald A, Gettelfinger, page 1. Bishop's Forum will return to this page April 17 .... c , ,,,, ,, shootings are a wake-up call, experts say In in :people ev. ery- sense that two and an ll- gunned killing it teacher and )le will 24 it t tWo-and.a_ forget minds," associate pro- at Loyola clearly there are things we can do." Jose is quick to add his voice to countless others who advo- cate more gun control, but he also readily admits that there is more to the recent shootings than just access to guns. "People try to come to grips" with the Arkansas shooting, and "make it explainable, make it preventable," he said. But as he sees it, this incident does not fit in such a neat category because "it was not totally predictable or preventable." He points a finger at adoles- cent immaturity and what goes along with that -- a failure to understand long-term effects of one's actions. He also says young people face more stress today than decades ago, often dealing with their parents' dif- ficulties, divorces and financial concerns. "Kids are growing up fast, but they also don't function he told "because well" with the added responsi- bilities and can tend to deal with stress either by becoming withdrawn or exerting anger, he said. The trouble is, in the heat of the moment, angry kids are picking up guns, whereas 30 years ago, he pointed out, "there would have been a fist- fight and maybe a bloody nose" not something with lasting consequences. He's also convinced that schools should do a better job of identifying and getting help for students who are prone to aggressive behavior. Vincent C. Gray, executive director of Covenant House in Washington, is also a big advo- cate for working with young people before problems occur, primarily to teach them how to resolve conflict. He hopes the isolated school shootings do not make people condemn all youths as partici- pants in violent crime. "Juvenile crime is down since 1996," he said. "It's tragedies as heinous as this one (in Arkansas) that color people's perceptions." Although the motives are still unclear in the Arkansas school shooting, the word among the students is that a suspected shooter, Mitchell Johnson, was mad that,a,girl had with him. ..... ' ' : " "There's nothing new about adolescent breakups," said Gray. "Adolescent relationships come and go." What is new, he added, is that today "the stakes have increased and people see violence as a way to .solve prob- lems." Young people need to be taught how to deal with the hurt that goes along with unre- quited love, he added Following the shooting, par- ents collectively seemed to raise the question of how they could prevent their own children from doing something similar. Gray, who works with run- away youths, advises parents to work with children "from day one to teach them mature ways to deal with failure. They need to know that mistakes are OK, and that the real challenge is how to deal with them." He also urged parents to dren and to be as attentive as possible to problems such as school failures that can often bring on aggressive behavior. At Covenant House, and in many schools and youth pro- b-rams aches the country, young people are taught mediation skills and problem solving with an eye to compromise, not to win at all costs. "As much preventio n as you can do" is never in vain, accord- ing to Gray, ix'cause he sees it as creating a need for "less repair" in the long run. African bishops say priest erred giving Clinton communion (CNS) _ a in he allowed Clinton to an act a nOrms. a Southern Con- Came after a discus- that Baptist, took 29 Church , With local about e, the parish priest, defended his decision to give Communion to the Clintons and other non- Catholics in the congregation, saying he was simply applying the terms of a recent ecumem- cal directory published by the Southern African Catholic Bish- ops' Conference. He said he had not asked permission from his bishop. The Directory on Ecumenism in Southern Africa, which appears to give more leeway to local churches on shared Com- munion, was under review by the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacra- ments, which asked for clarifi- cation after the Clinton episode. Father Emil Blaser, media offi- cer for the Southern African bishops, told Catholic News Service April 2 that Father Makobane "made a mistake in judgment." The same day, the Southern African bishops' conference issued a similar statement, sav- ing the priest should have asked prior approval of Bish3p Regi- nald I. Orsmond of lohmmes- burg, South Africa. Salesian Father John Colerfian, the Johannesburg diocesan vicar for liturgy, said in a telephone interview that if he had been consulted on the possibility of Clinton receiving Communion, "my first reaction would have been to say no, unless there are very good masons." If Clinton had presented him- self for Communion without warning, the priest concerned "certainly wouldn't refuse him, as it is the norm not to presume bad faith," Father Coleman said. But in this case, as Father Makobane himself said, there had been prior discussion on the issue and it was no surprise that Clin- ton came up for Communion. The program for the Ma, which invited all baptized Christians to take part in Com- munion, was drawn up by the U.S. organizers of the trip -- who said, however, that it reflected their understanding with local church officials. Father Coleman said organiz- ers of Clinton's visit appeared to have misjudged the effect of the action, which "surprised and hurt many Catholics, especially Amer- ican Catholics whom Clinton wouldn't want to alienate." Among those who questioned "whether Clinton's reception of Communion was in line with church norms was Cardinal Must be unable to request the Eucharist from a minister ot his or her own church commu- nity Must ask for Communion on his or her own initiative. Must be spiritually and morallv prepared. Must give evidence of holding the Catholic teaching in the Eucharist. The Vatican press office had no reaction to Clinton's recep- tion of Communion. But other Vatican officials said it appeared to go against church norms, "Since rifts is a person who is not a Catholic, he cannot be admitted Anthony M. Bevilacqua of norm b bish- Philadelphia. In general, as ops'.conference can advance a cited by Cardinal Bevilacclua, different rule, sat Archbishop the rules say the person: Geraldo M. Agnelo, secreta, of Must be in a situation ot the Congregatkm for Divine "grave necessity." Worship and the Sacraments.