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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
April 28, 1995     The Message
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April 28, 1995

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern indiana ; i> -- Taking the time to make a difference-- .. Oklahoma bombing: A view of vioie The report from Oklahoma City came to my home town with the I blunt suddenness of interrupted television. Moments after the ex- plosion at the federal building, we watched what was happening. A thousand miles away, it was as if we were watching out of a window, looking across the street. It could have been here. We could have been there. By a most unusual coincidence, I was at a television station when the news was first reported. I was in unusual company, too -,- four people who had just finished recording a local television program, one of a series of programs produced by an interfaith group. This one was about parenting. As we were leaving the studio, we stopped to watch the first report on a TV monitor near the door. Two Christians, a Moslem and a Jew -- the four of us, we stopped to learn what we could about the horrible event. Christian, Moslem and Jew -- we came from dif- ferent traditions. Two mothers and two fathers we were. We came from one family. The first reports were sketchy, but the pictures were graphically clear: Some great destructive power had shattered the windows and the walls of By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR a multi-story building. The first reports were about numbers. What time it happened. How many stories the building has. How many people work in the building. How many ambulances were lined up down the street. Where the doctors and the nurses were setting up emergency loca- tions to sort out the people who were hurt w the ones with critical injuries and those with scratches, the living and the dead. We looked at Oklahoma City and thought about Beirut. Or Baghdad. Or even New York City. A day later, we looked at the morning paper, and saw one picture: one man carrying one child. Whether Christian, Moslem or Jew -- who could look at such a picture and not be moved? It was not Beirut, or Baghdad, or New York City. What we saw was one child, covered with blood, in the arms of a fireman. A child, who was to die. The numbers and the facts kept coming, but the story was not about numbers. Not about facts. Ev- erything important Was told in that picture of one man trying to rescue one child. One child was hurt for no understandable reason. * * * When you watch or read news about an act of vi- olence, what is it that commands How does violence -- the bombing a burglary down the street -- affect What is the reaction to your neighborhood? .... :i * * Literally, within minutes flickered across the United States, from people -- to donate blood, to give help in the rescue efforts. Within minutes, too, came talk shows -- Calls calls for shutting American calls for the death penalty for those What is your reaction to violence? Here is an opportunity for hope in story from Oklahoma. The I revealed the immensity of what should we realize that what we do for person can make a difference in Take the time today to help a fective way to help the world may well be to help one time. Questions and comments are tian Family Movement, P.O. Box272, 50010. Washington Finding the good in bomb blast: Making sense of senseless i By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The bomb that nearly disintegrated a federal office building April 19 not only shook Oklahoma City but rat- tled the religious faith of a country full of believers. Coming three days after Easter and in the middle of Passover, the blast that killed scores in the Al- fred P. Murrah building left people across the country asking "how could God let this happen?" questioning the faith they had just proclaimed on the central Chris- tian holy day and during the Jew- ish observance of a historic exam- ple of God's mercy toward believers. The deaths couldn't be rational- ized as resulting from a natural disaster Or being a consequence of war -- the victims were children, office workers and Social Security recipients, in the heartland of a country at peace, far from the ex- pected venues of senseless vio- lence. "Probably the hardest question in all theology is how to reconcile such seemingly senseless suffering with an all-loving, all-powerful The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in Decemb by ine Catho Pmz of . Evansv#le ............................................ P Proaon Ma ................... y Houm ............................. pa Se.nd s w ............................. Mar/ Hs Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724..0169 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $,50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post offC, e in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tion nur 8,L3800, Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publicatmn  195 Ca,c Pre d E God," acknowledged Marcellino D'Ambrosio, an assistant professor of religion at the University of Dallas, a Catholic college. "Thomas Aquinas said human suf- fering is the greatest argument against the existence of God, yet God allows for great good to come from suffering." The heroic service of those trying to rescue victims; the empathy and compassion being shown by people not,personally touched by the blast; the new gratitude and appreciation for their own loved ones felt by millions of people who watched the aftermath of the ex- plosion on television -- these were immediate examples of good com- ing from evil, D'Ambrosio said. Even admitting that the bombing was an evil act is important and can help people understand that good can come of it, said D'Ambro. sio and others. ."Especially coming in the Easter season, this is a reminder that in our own lives, hatred and evil are real," said D'Ambrosio. lis shows very starkly the hor- ror and destruction of sin," he said. "It's often not so easy to see the power of sin in our own lives because it's on such a smaller scale. But sin is outrageous all the time and we need to recognize its destructive power in our own lives." It's important at times of tragedy to accept that death and horror exist in the world, not just to wail about the apparent unfairness of how it strikes, said Brian Gerrard, an associate professor in the coun- seling and psychology program at the Jesuit- run University of San Francisco: "The point is not to dwell on it, but to focus on those who survived and those who are heroes." =This kind of situation is the ulti- mate test of our humanity," said Gerrard. "It is an opportunity to grow as a person." Two lessons from the Oklahoma bombing and from other jarring examples of suffering are that "evil is real and tragedy is a mys- tery we just don't get," said Jesuit Father Daniel Liderbach, author of "Why Do We Suffer? New Ways of Understanding," and a teacher of religious studies and theology at Canisius College, a Jesuit school in Buffalo, N.Y. In recognizing that evil exists, people can work on reshaping their own lives, first by acknowl- edging that there are things over which humans have little power and then taking up the challenge to turn the tragedy into something greater, he said. "We insist that "this is wrong,' and we demand that life is better, that it 6"ill be better," Father Lider- bach said. "It's a call to hope." "Most, if not all, of the great peo- ple I know have been through a tragedy," said Father Liderbach. For himself, it took a life-threaten- ing operation to jar him into changes in his outlook that have altered his life. Did I have to hit bottom to get there? Probably," he said. The greatest challenge of growing from a tragedy is to accept the lessons that suffering holds, said D'Ambrosio. "It's not an automatic thing, that suffering produces holiness ... voila!" he said. "We have to be willing to accept its power to change. Sometimes it produces a magnificent change in people, in others it does not? D'Ambrosio said his own Dallas- area parish is predominantly Lebanese, made up of immigrants who have lived through horrors of war as stark as the Oklahoma City bombing. They provide an ex- ample of how even a whole com- munity Can be altered by shared tragedy. "I see a striking resiliency in these people," he said. They seem to have developed a joy and compas- sion in response to their suffer- ing7 The Oklahoma City bombing also may be the catalyst for people throughout the world to re-evalu- ate their own vulnerability -- "to remember how dependent we are on God, that at any moment we could be called to God," said D'Am- brosio. Americans in particular tend to feel insulated from the prospect of random death, which makes it all the more difficult to accept "In many waYS thing  to have up in it,  he walk in a GOd, not in ing in the human 0000ar&By te (--/[ose u'/(o practice sl rtt t /[ace receircc[an af are t/(eir gs out o Bishop's s The following activities and events schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger "