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June 3, 1994     The Message
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June 3, 1994

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana June -- Perspective m Flowers bloom, children grow The flowers had grown but the grass was cut, when my wife and I returned home from a recent con- ference. Our son Ben had taken care of the lawn. Spring weather had taken care of the flowers. We had been gone for almost a week, to attend the annual confer- ence of the Catholic Press Associa- tion, near Tampa, Fla. I had joined the association when I came to the Message some seven years ago. The conferences are typically well- planned and well-attended by peo- ' ple who work at Catholic papers, magazines and book publishers. This year, we were able to make the most of the trip. I attended as editor of the Message; my wife and I together attended as representatives of the Christian Family Movement, with an exhibit at the conference. Back at home, the weather was beautiful, I learned. Cool spring time nights punctuated com- fortably warm and sunny days. An area full of wild By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR Washington flowers doubled in height while we were gone. Just last year, our son Ben used to complain about our expecta- tion that he help me cut the grass. This year, it has been his volun- teered commitment to cut the grass whenever it needs it -- even if that means twice a week. Ben is home from his first year of college. He is old enough to make responsible decisions -- and young enough to be embarrassed when he finds out I have written about him in this column. What happens in our absence is what I want to write about. Being gone from home helps provide perspec- tive on the life of a family at home. The first real- ization I made when we returned was that life goes on -- within you and without you, as the old Beat- les' song used to say. While we were gone, the sun shone and the rain came and life went on. While we were gone, our son took care of the lawn, fitting two trim- mings into his work schedule. I also came to realize that what gardeners do and what parents do is very similar. The plants planted continued to grow -- toward becoming more mature plants -- exactly the kind we I mean, the roses did not have tulip blossoms; they had rose blossoms. What they were going to do whether we were there or not -- was what they were going to do. So it is with children. Whether we are not, or watching over them or not, our children our children -- who will grow and bloom as they come more mature. Much of our control long ago -- closer to the time when they were planted, so to speak, in God's garden of life, Over much of our garden -- and over a great deal of the lives of our children -- we have the care and support we could. Now it is time for them to stand up to the weeds themselves, in accord with the resources available to bloom. It is their nature. And it is our parents to accept the certainty that children gardens will grow -- when we are at home and when we are gone. Ending welfare as we know it and ending the assump By MARK PATTISON The center seeks to produce an Unlike the stereotype of which she's been on for most of She also argued ting off welfare to grants to increase other recipients. "It to cut off one h other hand," she said. At the Center for tice conference, Cart large, broad-based terested in genuine form. "We have stituency," he said, eight years. She had her first child at age 16. That daughter had a child at age 17. But rather than have her family fall into the cycle of wel- fare dependency, Ms. Harris baby-sat her grandchild so her daughter could go to school to become a licensed practical nurse. "Welfare is not meant to be a permanent thing," Ms. Harris said, "although sometimes it becomes permanent." ever get our really make a diff eree: Father's Day gift for To the editor: Have you ever thought of giving God a gift on Father's Day? God is the father of all of us. Father's Day is an appro- priate time to honor God with the gift of love. This is my twelfth "Father's Day Gift for God." People of all ages, nationalities and denomi- nations are welcome to partici- pate. Just say two "Our Fa- thers" a day, from June 19. The to express love Send your name and the date you ther's Day Gift A. Zimnotch, 60 Apt. 32, WetherS 06109. Bishop's sched hostile welfare mothers rail- ing against benefit changes, they said they support Clin- ton's plan. They would, though, prefer greater flexi- bility in its job training and child support provisions. Lucy Sierra, 22, and Be- linda Harris, 38, each have four kids. Ms. Sierra said she's against a cap on the number of children a family could have, as proposed May 26 in the Clinton plan. The cap would mean mothers would not get extra money if they have more children after they go on welfare. Such a cap, say its oppo- nents, who include both pro-lif- ers and supporters of legal abortion, harms the child and family. It also plays into the myth that welfare mothers just have more kids so they can get more benefits. "I would have had the child anyway," Ms. Sierra said of her youngest, who is 1. "I wanted my last child. They don't give you enough anyway. Why bother having another child for $35-$40 a month? That's not worth having another child. A child is worth more than that." Both mothers have one child with severe asthma. Despite their enrollment in a welfare- to-work program, they wonder how they manage to get by. Ms. Sierra's health mainte- nance organization, or HMO, pays for only half of her child's asthma care. Rent alone on her apartment is $360 a month. Ms. Sierra's monthly welfare payment is $485 a month. She also gets food stamps. Some- times the father of one of her children gives $50 a month when he has it -- that is, when he has a job. Making deadbeat duds pay child support won't work, she said, if they can't find a job. She's also been physically abused by men in her life -- a situation she said that could get worse if men are forced by a court to ante up. Ms. Harris is the only one in her family to need welfare, Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In an era of politics by sound bite, the divinely revealed sound bites -- the Proverbs -- have a lot to say about poverty. But James W. Skillen, who heads the Christian-oriented Center for Public Justice in Washington and spearheaded its recent conference on wel- fare reform, cautions against "the mistake of asking a single proverb to carry the full weight of God's revelation about poverty." For the proverb "Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth" (Pry 10:4), there's also, "A poor man's field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away" (Pry 13:23). And for "He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God" (Pry 14:31), there's this proverb with a small "p" "God helps those who help themselves." Skillen and his Center for Public Justice sponsored a two- day conference in mid-May on welfare reform in the Washing- ton suburb of Arlington, Va. The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Publisher .............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Editor ............................................ Paul Leingang Production Manager ........................... Phil Beget Circulaln ................................... Amy Housman Adverng .................................... Paul Newiand Staff Writer ............................. Mary Ann Hughes 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 office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication Copy 1884  Press of Evansvle I The following activities and events are listed schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger essay on the subject, and a 50- page draft version of "A New Vision of Welfare Reform" was the linchpin of the debate. The final version, up to twice the length of the draft, could be out by year's end. The draft contains four the- ses on welfare reform. In short, they are: Reform depends on an ac- curate understanding of human dignity and the nature of human vocations and obliga- tions, something far different than what American politics assumes. A clear vision of human life in society depends on a bib- lical point of view, and all tasks -- including those of gov- ernment n have a character of response to the Creator. Urban poverty is part of a widespread "responsibility cri- sis," with "moral failures" of governments, institutions and people, which can't be mea- sured by statistics alone. -- Government should not legitimize irresponsibility but call people and institutions to "healthy patterns of life." Therein lies the rub. There is no set formula for making those theses a reality, and peo- ple with diametrically opposed viewpoints can argue that their point of view legitimately meets those conditions. John Carr, director of the U.S. bishops' Department of Social Development and World Peace, contended during the conference that the draft could have had a stronger biblical basis. "Welfare as we know it," Carr said, "is not good news to the poor. It does not give lib- erty to captives .... We will be judged by how we serve the least of these," and if so, "our nation is failing, and failing badly." And what of the welfare re- cipients themselves? Two welfare mothers from Chicago spoke May 26 to mem- bers of President Clinton's task force that is formulating a wel- fare reform plan.