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Evansville, Indiana
June 7, 1996     The Message
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June 7, 1996

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1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Did your parish experience the L of a change of leadership? J YOur priest replaced with a Coordinator? Did you associate priest? you answer to any question a"yes- I am most aware that L of those priests of pastoral life co- has generated some n you! I would not aracterize your feel- ,p's Forum-- Pastoral changes stir emotions! ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER changes always have edge. There are, in- those parish members who cannot wait for charged with the pastoral care of . There are usually an equal number who loss of their beloved priest-pastor. There be the abiding fear that the "priest-pastor" replaced with a non-priest pastoral leader. )astoral leader causes distress or another. My experience is that there whether the change involves an Pastoral-minded priest or an effective pas- Lor. Is no question that I have "upset" the of several parishes since winter. Allow Our recent mutual experience to demon- I mean. Last December, Holy Rosary lost its pastor in a most painful way. He was placed on administra- tive leave due to an external accusa- tion. The nature of the accusation rendered reinstatement impossible. At my suggcstion, to avoid a legal proceeding within church law, he voluntarily resigned from the role of parish pastor. It was my duty to find a replacement. The Holy Rosary parish family waited with much pain and long suffering for the announcement of a new pastor. I walked with each member with great pain and com- passion, despite those who think or feel otherwise. Meantime, I, your bishop, searched for an ap- propriate pastor to assume the awesome responsibil- ity of leading this very large and active parish that Holy Rosary is. My effort and the pastoral needs of Holy Rosary brought several facts into focus. We are not a Congregationalist church. We are Roman Catholics who look to the unity with the See of Peter to guide us and energize us. That means in simple terms that individual parish communities do not choose their pastoral leader. They are appointed by the bishop who is in union with the Vicar of Christ, our Holy Father. Parishes must depend on the bishop to act as quickly as possible and with wisdom. The pastoral leader of every parish in our dio- cese has an official appointment from me, the dioce- san bishop. That is a critical responsibility I must own. As I noted above, changes of pastoral leader- ship generate lots of emotions. When changes are favorable to those who have great hope for change there is much gratitude for my wisdom. Equally when there is resistance to change or particular af- fection for the current pastoral leadership, any change is less than desirable. In all cases I absorb those unique emotions with lots of compassion. ! go to sleep so many nights -- or stay awake -- wonder- ing about my pastoral judgment. I acknowledge and accept the fact my decisions may cause you to respond with emotions ranging from displeasure to anger. I welcome your compas- sion when your judgment differs from mine. But -- please do not be angry with me unless you have suggestions for a better solution. Many times I recall my previous experience as a teacher, principal and superintendent. I have ob- served many athletic coaches. When it comes to per- sonnel for pastoral assignments in our diocese, I often times feel like a coach. Fans cannot expect a coach to deliver a winner unless he has the proper number to field a team. Even with an adequate number, he must also have competent players for each position. Not every player can play every position. I urge all ofyou to pray for a deep bench! B for a 'World Day for the Sanctification of Priests' on June the Sacred Strong emphasis Ho S.J. ;hip of Prayer love of Jesus people, espe- They who Persona Christi" (in the person of Christ), as chan- nels of his sacramental graces, are especially highlighted this year. Why? So much depends on the holiness of priests for the welfare of the Church. The lanced heart on Good Friday sends torrents of Christ's flow- ing love which touches the hearts of the world's people. The pulsating heart of the divine human person of Christ moves people in a response of love. Pope John Paul II's annual Holy Thursday letter to priests (April 13, 1995), stressed the vital need for priestly holiness. He ends his letter by "making his own" the suggestion put for- ward by the Congregation for the Clergy that every diocese should celebrate a "World Day for the Sanctification of Priests" on the Feast of the Sacred Heart or another date better suited to local needs and pastoral usage. The celebration invites all bish- ops, priests, religious and lay people to pray that priests may live in full conformity with Christ's will. A priest's holiness or lack of it is sensed and experienced in his priestly service by his sisters and brothers. Parishioners know when their priest is speak- ing with the heart of Jesus Christ. This awareness makes all the difference as priests try to live their priestly lives being continually nourished by the comforting heart of Jesus Christ. When this is true, we can truly say that the priest's ser- vice is "in the person of Christ." He is an "alter Christus"( an- other Christ). He is in the most clear sense a channel of Christ's love flow- ing through him to others. i I r ian explains chilling details of 'partial birth abortion' 4 eraber of Holy along with my son Jacob. I 0f Physicians of Right to County. written in the y. Asa he also calls into light. of Partial Birth darkness is the media cover- The light in the words of one of the has promoted in our country, technique in his and Extraction Abor- at the National Risk Man- Sept. 13, from his sanitized he used to de- Procedure. The Words will chill I will provide appropriate, in n takes "Day 1 -- cervix). "Day 2 -- More Dilation" (of the cervix). "Day 3 -- The Operation. "The membranes are ruptured, if they are not already." (The water is broken.) "The surgical assistant places an ultrasound probe on the pa- tient's abdomen and scans ,the fetus, locating the lower ex- tremities" (finds the baby's legs). "The surgeon introduces a large grasping forceps.., into. .. the uterus .... When the in- strument appears on the sono- gram screen, the surgeon is able to open and close its jaws to firmly and reliably grasp a lower extremity" (grab the baby's leg). "The surgeon then.., pulls the extremity into the vagina. "With a lower extremity in the vagina, the surgeon uses his fingers to deliver the opposite lower extremity, then the torso, the shoulders and the upper ex- tremities" (delivers the rest of the body, up to the head). "The skull lodges at the inter- nal cervical as." (The baby's head remains inside the mother's womb.) "The surgeon takes a pair of blunt curved Metzenbaum scis- sors in the right hand. [With the left hand] applying traction to the shoulders and lower ex-" tremities.., the surgeon then forces the scissors into the base of the skull .... Having safely entered the skull, he spreads the scissors to enlarge th e opening" (killing the baby). "The surgeon removes the scissors and introduces a suction catheter into this hole and evac- uates the contents" (sucks out the baby's brain). Regarding the viability of the babies aborted in this fashion, I will quote a transcript of a tape recorded interview he granted to American Medical News: "AMN: Let's talk first about whether the fetus is dead be- forehand. "Haskell: No it's not. No, it's really not." Later in the interview, he said, "And I'll be quite frank: most of my abortions are elec- tive in that 20-24 week range.. .. 80% are purely elective." Haskell says he performs the procedure up to 26 weeks gesta- tion, and another abortionist "performs these procedures up to 32 weeks or more." Between them, they admit to performing over 3,000 partial birth abor- tions, and the procedure is cer- tainly practiced by others. The question is not whether the procedure is rare, but rather, should it be done at all. What must it take for an abortionist to do this to a fellow human being -- to stab a living, moving baby in the back of the skull as he holds the baby's body in his hands? Any mother who has felt her baby's movement at 20 weeks must know that the baby" would recoil from the abortionist's for- ceps. And the baby does not ben- efit from the mother's anesthe- sia. Surely the depth of this de- pravity should qualify not only as a federal crime, but as a crime against humanity. Would it make a difference if the abor- tionist saw the baby's face before the actual killing took place? Sadly, I doubt it. And the next step along this road is outright infanticide. An Evansville Courier article quoted an abortion clinic official who called the procedure "hu- mane." Would they call it hu- mane if it were practiced on dogs? Perhaps it can only be considered "humane" in com- parison to the other procedure which is used to abort babies late in pregnancy: saline abor- tion. It is not surprising that the people who defend partial birth abortion also lament the fact that Evansville does not have an abortion clinic. They do not want you to know that Evansville al- ready has two Crisis Pregnancy Centers, offering women alter- natives to abortion and post- abortion counseling. They are fond of calling us the "radical right," and the "Chris- tian Coalition," as if the term Christian" were derogatory. President Clinton in April ve- toed legislation which would have banned the Partial Birth Abortion procedure in our coun- try, unless it were absolutely necessary to save the life of the mother. Decide for yourself. Are we to have a Culture of Death, where the most innocent and defense- less members of society can be brutally "extracted" from the mother's womb and killed a too- ment before taking the first breath? Or are we to have a Culture affirming Life, where people are encouraged to take personal re- sponsibility for their actions, and where the weak, the handi- capped, the very young, and the very old are treasured and es- teemed? Then do not allow Partial Birth Abortion to become an ac- cepted norm of our society. Call or write Congressman Hostettler and Senators Lugar and Coats. Encourage them to stand firm and override Presi- dent Clinton's veto of the ban on Partial Birth Abortion. Send a message to President Clinton that he has transgressed the laws which are written our hearts. Richard E. Bell, M.D. Chairman, Physicians for Life