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May 3, 1996     The Message
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May 3, 1996
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana [WN, Conn. (CNS) - my gathere d in ma f, their annual x_ in early April, tuCators listed violence lessness as the top con- [ the presidential ; S aould address. P iSSues and the per- ff V0tes included con- ic educators list top concerns for presidential candidates cerns for the environment, 15 percent; for quality education, 14 percent; and for world peace, 14 percent. They logged in their votes on the topics at an interactive booth set up by the Weekly Reader at the National Catholic Educa- tional Association convention. Middletown, is a newspaper dis- tributed in classrooms across the country. It released the vot- ing results April 22. In a preliminary tally of a sim- ilar ongoing vote involving stu- dents across the country, the top concerns for presidential candi- dates and their percentage of percent; the environment, 20 per- cent; drugs, alcohol and smoking, 19 percent; homelessness and poverty, 16 percent; and animal care and protection, 7 percent. The survey is part of a citi- zenship program of the student magazine, Weekly Reader, which aims to give children a voice in According to the Weekly Reader, its staffexpects more than 1 mil- lion students to participate in the poll. Final voting results will be tallied by having students list five issues which concern them most and send these lists to: Survey/Petition, Weekly Reader Corp., 245 Long Hill Rd., Mid- The Weekly Reader, based in vote-getters include: violence, 29 the democratic process, dletown, CT 06457-9291. COmmentator asks: 'Where are we now?' an- in the midst of ma- the real be- Cam- ministry gets. , DIRECTOR De- seeking for we have to and priori- partisan rC0 status %'ressional advo- litical process and the Catholic community, especially at a time when pundits predict Catholics will decide the 1996 elections. Many candidates will be wooing Catholics and already a range of interest groups are reaching out to our parishes and people. But photo-ops and papal quotes are no substitute for policies which protect human life, place a pri- ority on the poor, or advance justice at home and peace abroad. Some will seek our support without really dealing with our values. Republicans sometimes seem to talk about their anti-abortion position as reluc- tant remnants of the past rather than a future agenda. And have to be partisan, to be political stand with the against life work for !es1_ .. )- .... =uon which born W urge+ putting es first at home and and more de- the po- Democrats seem to talk about the poor more as a banner to be waved than policies to be en- acted. On the issues of great im- portance to consistent ethic Catholics, the politicians pos- ture, but the energy and priority are focused more on other con- cerns and more powerful con- stituencies. In the months ahead we need to chart our own course, not cheer for any particular party, challenging all candidates to  i i ' : i - :   i: :ii  CC)UNTY CLERK ::: f the Circuit Court+ Jay Hargis, Treasurer Paid Political Advertisement stand up for human life and dig- nity, to work for greater justice and peace. We need to carry out our legislative advocacy, voter registration, or political educa- tion in ways that challenge vot- ers and candidates, and stand up for unborn children, poor families, workers and immi- grants. This will not be easy in the polarized politics of 1996 when sound bites and attack ads over- whelm civil debate and dialogue. But the Catholic community is called to advance our principles, not partisan agendas. We need to challenge candidates, not cheer their often selective sup- port for human life and human dignity. We don't have to be partisan to be political. Let's keep our dis- tance from those who veto even the most modest restrictions on abortion or suggest that moth- ers or children on welfare or im- migrants are the source of our national problems. Let us de- bate those Who believe more vi- olence -- in the form of abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment as well as other threats to life -- can also solve our problems. Let us challenge those who under- mine the national commitment to poor and other families by their economic policies and so- cial priorities. We can help shape the debate without play- ing partisan games. We can en- courage Catholics in both par- ties and no party to work for greater respect for human life and dignity, for greater justice and peace. The bishops' political respon- sibility statement provides a guide and shelter, if not a home, for Catholics who seek to share ankly, the bishops are more ommitted to the unborn than the Republicans and more con- cerned about the poor than the Democrats. The bishops' positions are not tactical nor partisan, but a consistent commitment to human life and dignity Their goals are not winning elections, but saving lives and protecting dignity. and act on a moral vision that transcends the current partisan games and challenges the polit- ical status quo. Already more than 200,000 copies ofthe state- ment or the summary have been purchased. A new video version is available to share its message in parish and other forums. While it has been widely used and well received, a few com- mentators have continued to at- tack it as partisan or ideologi- cal. Those who make these charges do not know our bishops or misinterpret their message. The bishops seek to advance human life and human dignity, not any party or ideology. Some say why the constant and per- sistent focus on abortion -- you're just helping the Republi- cans. Others say we love your defense of the unborn, but why all this talk about the poor -- it just helps the Democrats. Frankly, the bishops are more committed to the unborn than the Republicans and more con- cerned about the poor than the I I Support Catholic schools by using the Tradition Card. A percentage of each purchase you make using Tradition Card goes to support Catholic education. Call 464.3322 or 1-800-777-3949 ext. 3322 for details. Issued by Citizens Bank. Democrats. The bishops' posi- tions are not tactical nor parti- san, but a consistent commit- ment to human life and dignity. Their goals are not winning elec- tions, but saving lives and pro- tecting dignity. Selective orthodoxy is a seri- ous challenge for all of us. One temptation is to affirm the Church's principled opposition to abortion, but to overlook other threats to human life and dignity. Another is to stand with the Church's defense of the poor, but dismiss the protection of the unbo6n as a conservative rem- nant. The defense oflife and dig. nity crosses ideological lines. We need to be involved and engaged, without being used or exploited. Now is the time for persistent advocacy -- the bat- tles on welfare, EITC and the budget are not over. It is a time for consistent and principled po- litical responsibility -- the bat- tle to mobilize Catholics is just beginning. We have principles, tools and opportunities to help shape the Congressional debate and the national campaign. How well we seize these opportuni- ties will shape what kind of so- ciety we serve for years to come. 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