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

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Forum -- . scripture and, 'Choose life, then.. " ago, April 19, I morning to rest of confirma- I did something un- on the tele- the day. I became mesmerized by the ',CIAL. It was the un- drama of and death of the Branch Dividian safe for I was not in- like a movie, I could any emotions that my being. was the insulation of hundreds of The magic of television brought 0fdeath "live" to my living room. to dismiss this event without being I did not have to sift through for bodies or possible survivors. to the searing stench of g my sense of smell. No, I to be stopped in my tracks with the lg sight of charred bodies of I did not have etched forever in my ndescribably horrible scene. No, I push of a button, dismiss it en- to the day, I was in my office at the I made a phone call to Monsignor s home. It was through him that I there had been a bombing in Okla- Spoke of how devastating the blast m ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER had been. We finished the business .about which I had called him. I hung up the phone. With a click of the switch I was able toset aside the awful moment of tragedy. Then on the front page of the daily paper, there was the heart rending picture of a terribly injured baby gently cradled in the arms of a firefighter. Who could not be moved?! We learned later that the baby died, but not without heroic efforts of many to save her. This past Sunday, I was re- turning from confirmations in St. Mary Huntingburg and St. Joseph Dale. And, as I am of a custom to do, I tuned the radio to the public radio news program, "All Things Considered." There was a segment which included an interview with one of the mothers of a child that had been killed. It was a most emotional and moving interview. The loving and distraught mother said something that served as a 'wake-up call' for me. It was not that I had not reflected on the awful enormity of what had taken place in Ok- lahoma City, but simply was a passive onlooker. This sorrow stricken mother described her emotions as vague and awfully mixed up -- until a man was arrested and held as a suspect. It was then, she said, that the emotion of anger and de- sire for revenge then erupted. She told of her de- sire to "hurt the man, and hurt him very badly." What mother would not experience the same over- whelming feelings?! We are human beings. We have been given passions that are embedded into our very being as a way to protect, sustain and reproduce ourselves. Self defense is guarded with the passion of anger which sparks hatred and seeks revenge. These base appetites require of us control which comes only from a higher motive rooted in faith. Yes, each of us may experience an entire range of emotion. We too might find ourselves denying that such evil exists within our own boundaries. Denial, though safe, is an irresponsible act for then we can excuse ourselves from having any part in the community. Hatred and revenge are perfectly natural emo- tions, yet Catholic Christians are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and, yes, to love even our enemies. That is difficult, yet Jesus has not only commanded it, he has shown us the way. Let us be compassionate for those who suffer untold loss and who might express strong desires for vindication. Let us be vigilant of our own ex- pressions directed toward those who are responsi- ble for this evil act. The evil act of another does not give us permission to act evilly in return. Let our prayer embrace all those touched by this inexcusable human act of violence including ourselves. Let us pray that we will not be tempted to commit an equally inexcusable act of violence against another. Finally, I suggest that in every home the el- dest child read to those gathered around the table the text from the Book of Deuteronomy of the Old Testament, Chapter 30, Verses 15-20. Choose life! ms of Oklahoma blast remembered around U.S. 'ON (CNS) -- to in Okla- Staggering . with in Seattle individual the and others and sup- victims of building Stood at 86 13 chil- ap- missing, members begun awaiting lIass for 21 at St. Seattle Murphy on Cal- too ask an ond the that or out ', and allow enter our said ur corn- gift of 1 a day at carry Was held a letter to" princi. and the life, to create a society in our country and world that values each human being," he added. At Mass April 23 at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, Cardinal John J. O'Con- nor began a Sunday homily se- ries on Pope John Paul II's new encyclical, "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life"), by asking worshipers to pray for bombing victims. He said the pope's proclama- tion of the Gospel of life is so important today because there are so many new threats to life that "poison human society." The Oklahoma bombing is an example of such a poison, the cardinal said. He called the bombing "a supreme dishonor to God ... a destruction of God's most pre- cious possession -- human life." Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh told 700 people who gathered for the diocese's an- nual Victims Mass at Sacred Heart Church April 23 that the bombing shook believers every- where. Many of those attend- ing were family and friends of victims of tragic death. Calling the act of terrorism "evil," Bishop Wuerl reflected, =To those in Oklahoma, we can say, we know your pain." At the April 23 closing Mass of the ninth annual convention of the Maine Catholic Youth "We will minister as who we are and how we can serve, by praying for the victims, their families and friends, as well as everyone who bears the pain of loss and suffering in the Okla- homa City bombing," the letter stated in part. Students were asked to re- main silent on April 25, and Ministry, Portland Bishop Joseph J. Gerry led more than 1,200 youth and adults in a minute of silent prayer for the victims and families of the Ok. lahoma City bombing. Parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Revere, Mass., gathered April 21 for a candlelight Mass for Oklahoma City victims and everyone suf- fering there. Franciscan Father Bede Fer- rata, the celebrant, said he will send spiritual bouquets from those at the Mass to Oklahoma City Mayor Ronald Norick. Children from Catholic schools across the country have offered support to the children of Oklahoma City. "We have had grade school kids from out of state both in parish education programs and in schools who want to send cards and letters," said D'Esta Verdicchio, archdiocesan direc- tor of religious education in Oklahoma City. Children from a large Vir- ginia parish wanted to send stuffed animals, she said, be- cause they are near Washing- ton and many of their parents work for the federal govern- ment. Disaster assistance funds for Oklahoma City have been es- tablished by several church-re- lated organizations. Catholic Charities USA, the along with the faculty, to =take this time to pray and ask God to give the people of Oklahoma City the needed faith, strength, courage, and the for- giving heart they need at this tumultuous time." Contributions may be made to parishes in the diocese, or di- nation's largest private social service agency, established a disaster fund April 20 to pro- vide medicine, trauma counsel- ing and mental health services, and funeral expenses to the families of victims. Michael Cochis, of the orga- nization's Disaster Response Office, told Catholic News Ser- vice that donations began com- ing in April 24 and were ex- pected to pick up throughout the week. He said Catholic Charities USA already had wired $10,000 in emergency assistance to Associated Catholic Charities of Okla- homa City. Church World Service, a ministry of the New York City- based National Council of Churches, has appealed to its 32 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member denomina- tions to supply $100,000 to- ward the Oklahoma City disas- ter response. The Salvation Army, through its Arkansas/Okla- homa division, has distributed thousands of sandwiches, hot meals, snacks and drinks to rescue workers and volunteers at the bombing site. "We're here for the long haul," said Maj. John 1 Jones, divisional secretary, in stating that his organization's disaster relief fund is providing lodging, transportation and funeral as- rectly to Catholic Charities. Checks may be made out to Catholic Charities U.S.A., and donors should note =Oklahoma Blast" on the memo line. Con- tributions may be sent to Catholic Charities, Court Building, Suite 603, 123 Northwest Fourth Street, Evansville, IN 47708. sistance as well as counseling to victims' families. In editorial comment, Father T Ronald Haney, executive ed- .  itor Of The Catholic witness;" : ......  newspaper of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., wrote, "A calamity like this bombing challenges us to live the Gospel in a countercultural manner." "Those who pray for the vic- tims and their families and at the same time cling to a desire for the brutal destruction of the bombers may be practicing their religion," he noted, "but sre they living their faith?" In a column after the bomb- ing, John Mallon, editor of The Sooner Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, suggested a new way of thinking about the problem of evil. =Instead of being a stum- bling block to belief,  he wrote, =our response to evil may in- stead turn out to be the great- est proof for the existence of God.'* =Our streets are not filled with lynch mobs out for re- venge, but with love squads out to heal, console, help and soothe," he said. God has held us up for the world to see, He is showing us off. I believe he is proud of us." In a letter read at Masses in all parishes in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City the weekend after the bombing, Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran authorized a special collection for disaster relief to be made in all churches as soon as possible. =We cannot be allow pes- simism or anger, hatred or grief to consume us," he wrote. We are witnesses of the Lord and therefore by our efforts we must bring light and hope to all."