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May 17, 1996     The Message
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May 17, 1996

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: i .... The Mesage -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana ":5 Bishop's Forum -- IS there nothing sacred? Picture the scene. It is the vis- section in prison. The priest is a Small booth, much like a  booth. The prisoner is in an on the other side separating them. They see each other through the order to hear, there is speaker set up, very simi- Some of our confessionals for the hard of hearing. are sound proof, so that can hear the conversation and prisoner. that one of the most sa- any priest has is the re- never to divulge anything that he has in confession He allows himself to be to- VUlnerable to any penitent who does not have as the sacred "seal of confes- should he be falsely accused of having lone SOmething improper in the confes- t -- must not w speak in his own may recall that many years ago, OUr priests was so accused. Father Roman was accused of"soliciting" a penitent in He was charged. He remained OWn defense. He was "found guilty" and ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER sent to prison. The penitent later admitted the accusation against Fa- ther Weinzapfel was false. He was released from prison. Priest are also penitents. They, too, expect the "seal of confession" to be kept in their behalf. Priests know first-hand the value of this sa- cred trust. All penitents, no matter who they are or the sins they have com- mitted, have a right to expect that this sacred trust is never violated. Tragically, there are those in the world who have no respect for the sacred, even the seal of confession. In Oregon, a prisoner was in the act of confess- ing his sins to a priest in a scene similar to the one I described in the beginning. Unbeknown to him and to the priest, the "phone" was tapped and his confes- sion was recorded by those who obviously had no re- spect for this sacred moment. The prosecutor al- leges that this man has committed murder. He wants to use the tape of the confession to the priest in court. Trivialization of the sacred leads to such outra- geous violations of human rights and dignity. In- deed, each of us must be accountable for our own ac- tions. In holding each other accountable, we do not have the right to violate human beings. To abuse what we as Catholic Christians hold so very sacred is just such a violation. I am prepared to go to death rather than vio- late any person who confesses his or her sinfulness to me in the sacrament of reconciliation by "break- ing the sacred seal of confession." That is a pledge, that is a commitment, even should I be falsely'ac- cused. Every priest makes such a commitment: That is the respect we have for those who freely come to the priest to receive the sacrament of recon- ciliation and to be reassured of God's mercy -- and that of the community. If the prisoner in Oregon has committed a crime, he must be accountable for it. On the other hand, no matter what he may have done, he does have the sacred right to seek the Sacrament of Rec- onciliation without fear of "eaves dropping" or of breach of trust by the priest. Whether or not the court allows the use of the tape is not the issue here. The fact that there is a tape is an outrage. No government or governmental official has the right to violate this sacred right. Is this incidence not a reflection of what happens when human life is minimized? Is it not an example of unrestrained power on the part of those professed to protect tile rights of human beings? Is this an omen for things to come? Vatican Letter documents: When is a statement from the Vatican official? News Service CITY (CNS) -- pub- isn't a Vatican of- ng the same ques- s contain- COnclusions. obviously do truths of the HOWever, the top- serious, and con- can cause con- lly when they statements of revolve and wel- Pontifical Family pub- for sex educa- complete a response to the that you have the Mass. It is Our Catholic life; of is found in Sacramentary, Missal that is This instruc- for al- that deals of the 21 of read: "They at the consecra- by the the number of or some other it is up to the to adapt postures de- e Order of the the customs of 1969 the Na- parental control and a very gradual approach to providing information about sexuality. When the document was pub- lished, opponents of sex educa- tion in Catholic schools took its emphasis on parental responsi- bility as a clear call to withdraw children from school-based pro- grams they found objectionable. But in the United States, some of those programs have been mandated by a local bisliop and follow guidelines published by the U.S. bishops. Now the Congregation for Catholic Education is putting the finishing touches on an up- dated version of its own docu- ment outlining principles to be followed in sex education pro- grams in Catholic schools. Cardinal Pio Laghi, prefect of the education congregation, said his congregation's document also would affirm parents' primary tional Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to keep every- thing in paragraph-21, and stated that the people are to "kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic prayers, that is, before the Lord's Prayer." However, you will note that they did not do away with the exceptions cited in the General -Instruction, namely, "lack of space, the number of people present, or some other good reason." "Some other good reason" may be theological or in the spirit of the liturgical moment. In the Judaeo-Christian liturgi- cal tradition, standing is the basic posture of an Easter peo- ple liRed up to greet their risen Lord. Standing is the posture for Praise, and the Eucharistic Prayer is a Praise Prayer. It is interesting to note that in two of our Eucharistic prayers we are mentioned as responsibility for educating their children, but at the same time it would acknowledge "that that's not happening" when it comes to sex. "If you ask young people where they learned about the mysteries of human life, 80 per- cent would not say in their fam- ilies," the cardinal said. Cardinal Laghi said he fa- vors a "multidisciplinary ap- proach" that would involve health, science, religion and even literature teachers of- fering "not just biological facts, but values." While Vatican documents may have different emphases, they should not been seen as conflict- ing, said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls. "It has been my experience that the documents of various Vatican offices do not so much con- tradict, as complement or ex- "standing." In Eucharistic Prayer I (the old Roman Canon), we pray: "Remember all of us gathered here before you," which is a free transla- tion of the Latin expression "et omnium circumstantium," which really means, "and all standing here." In Eucharistic Prayer II, we pray, "We thank you for count- ing us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you." One of the good reasons for not kneeling, but for standing, therefore, can be found in the very prayers themselves. I hope that this is helpful, and that you will be able to feel reverent and prayerful if you find yourself in another assem- bly that stands during the Eu- charistic Prayer. May the rest of the Easter Season be joyful in the Risen Savior. Rev, William J. Deering Director of Worship plain each other." With the sex education docu- ments, readers must keep in mind the competence of the of- fice issuing the document. The Council for the Family's docu- ment obviously focuses on the family's role and responsibili- ties. The education congrega- tion's document will look at What schools should do. Conflicting conclusions are even more common when they result from the dozens of"expert consultations" Vatican offices hold throughout the year. The fact that the sponsoring Curia office publishes the ex- perts' conclusions does not mean that the statements are Catholic teaching, Navarro-Valls said. "These statements have the value of telling people what the Vatican has been discussing, and that's all. They are not doc- uments of the Holy See,  the spokesman said. In fact, on social questions, the experts may even disagree with church teaching or cite practical problems that arise from following the church's po- sition. This Was the case with the experts gathered by Pontifi- cal Council for the Family in March to discuss the family and the economy. Government welfare pro- grams came under heavy attack, but no mention was made of Catholic social teaching, which assigns governments a moral re- sponsibility to provide a safety net for the weakest and most disadvantaged members of soci- ety. The main speaker at the con ference said welfare payments to single mothers discourage young women from marrying if they are pregnanL He also said paid maternity leave and subsi- dized child care may force women into the job market, Navarro-Valls said that in reading the experts' conclusions Cathohcs must keep m mind that official Catholic teaching is explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church," in papal documents and in documents is- sued by Vatican offices with the pope's approval. The Vatican always is careful to label the level of authority of its various documents, Navarro- Vails said. The lack of papal ap- proval "does not imply those doc- uments are rubbish, but they are reflections on questions under discussion. You certainly can disagree with what these in- dividuals say." Official church documents say that "on a moral level people in need must be given assistance by the government," he said. Washington Continued from pag 4 tor  on the partial-birth abortion issue and urging priests to speak out in favor of the veto override, she said. To those who might see the ef- fort as primarily aimed at Clin- ton in an election year, Ms. Al- rare responds that it is just like the bishops' response to the threat of the Freedom of Choice Act and the inclusion of abortion in national health care legisla- tion. "We have activated grass- roots campaigns on major pro- life issues in season and out of season, year in and year out,  she said. "How can we do any less with partial-birth abor- tion.  One longtime Senate backer of legal abortion said in early May that the gruesome facts have already convinced him to support the wto override effort. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moyni, han, D-N.Y., who missed the original Senate vote because of illness, said he would vote to override the veto because par- tial-birth abortions are "just too close to infanticide.  "A child has been born and it has exited the uterus, and what on earth is this procedure?" Moynihan told the New York Post.