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Evansville, Indiana
June 10, 1994     The Message
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June 10, 1994
 

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ThbMeaaage  for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana ---Perspective .- Family life: Acceptance, nourishment, rel;onciliation Some days you find some thing so well said that there is no way to improve it. Such is the case with a recent statement made by Catholics and Jews about marriage and family Catholic News Service reported on the statement issued by the In- ternational Catholic-Jewish Liai- son Committee. Written during a May meeting in Jerusalem and published at the Vatican, the state- ment said, in part, "The family is far more than a legal, social or eco- nomic unit. For both Jews and Christians, it is a stable commu- nity of love and solidarity based on God's covenant." It seems to me that "Family" and "Family val- ues" are words claimed too easily by persons all over the political spectrum. In the 1950s we used to hear about "motherhood and apple pie" as a short-cut signal for solid Ameri- can values. No longer. Motherhood, since Roe v. Wade, is out. "Family" is in. It is time to wade out of the shallow water of today's political thinking w and into a deeper un- derstanding of family from a true, Judeo-Christian perspective. IB PAUL It. INGANG EDITOR "Jewish and Christian under- standings of the family are based upon the biblical description of the dual creation of the human being man and woman -- in God's image, and on the dual nature of God's covenant with the patriarchs and matriarchs -- as with Abra- ham and Sarah together," the statement said. "We affirm the sacred value of stable marriage and the family as intrinsically good," it said. As Catholics, we say that family life is holy. Within the family, the Domestic Church, we first experi- ence acceptance, nourishment and reconciliation. Family life is real life, not a sitcom life full of cute moments. Facing real life, the interfaith committee called on governments and religious groups to offer con- crete supportto families facing "multiple crises throughout the world." The family, they said, is in a unique position to teach and hand on the cultural, ethical, social and spiritual values essential for the well-being of indi- viduals and of society as a whole. "Parents, who gave life to or have adopted their children, have the primary obligation of bringing them up," the statement said. Parents have a right to exercise their ties regarding the transmission of life and the educa" : tion of their children, including in the areas of values i and traditions informed by their faith, the statement said. Society and governments mtst take protect the family and reinforce its unity ity, it said. "Society is called upon to support the family and of family members -- especiall and children, the poor and the sick, the and the elderly -- to physical, social, pa : economic security," the statement said. "In affirming the family," the "we reach out at the same time to other personS as unmarried persons, single parents, and the childless in our societies and in and synagogues." While Jews and Catholics have significant ences in perspective, they siid, "we also have ..... ground of shared values upon which to common affirmation of the essential role ily within society." Family is not only essential within civil societY:: Family is essential in the Church. ---.- Washington Filing bankruptcy: Feds making a claim for donations to ch By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) Repercussions of the bank- ruptcy of a small Minnesota" business are sending chills down the spines of attorneys for some of the nation's largest churches. When Bruce and Nancy Young of Orono, Minn., filed bankruptcy for their electrical contracting company in Febru- ary 1992, the trustee for their creditors turned an eye toward money the Youngs had con- tributed to their church. In a move that astonished attorneys for religious organi- zations, the Justice Depart- ment in April urged the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to give creditors $13,450 that the Youngs tithed to Crystal Evangelical Free Churh of New Hope, Minn., during the year before they filed for bank- ruptcy. The church is being sued in Julia b_ Christians vs. Crystal Evangelical Free Church by the bankruptcy trustee. The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Caolic Press of Evansville PLisher .............. shop Gerad A, GetteSr Ec ........................................... Paul L,nO Pr0duc Man,t ........................... Pl'l Boge" arm .................................. .Amy Housman Advertising .................................... Paul Newtand Stafff wrzter ............................ 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 offtce in Evansville, tN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication C_,opyn 1994 ic Press Y Evarile Should the circuit court agree with the Justice recom- mendation, churches around the country may be at risk of having to return money do- nated by members who eventu- ally filed for bankruptcy The case also raises questions about the effectiveness of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by President Clin- ton in January. A coalition of religious groups iled a friend-of-the-court brief with the 8th Circuit disagreeing with the Justice Department's claim that the only questions at issue have to do with bank- ruptcy law. The church groups contend the Justice recommen- dation supports "an extraordi, nary interference in the routine operation of churches and syna- gogues and a retroactive nullifi- cation of the debtor's exercise of religion.  The brief argued that the Minnesota district court's rul- ing could be reversed under the constitutional protection of free exercise of religion, the bankruptcy code or the reli- gious freedom act. It was filed on behalf of the Christian Legal Society, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the Baptist Joint Com- mittee on Public Affairs, the National Association of Evan- gelicals, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Traditional Values Coali- tion and the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Organizations that partici- pated in earlier briefs in the case but did not have time to join the latest one included Americans United for Separa- tion of Church and State, Con- cerned Women for America and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. "Short of arresting a pastor, I can't think of a thing worse for religious freedom than for the government to be able to repossess contributions two years later, after they've been budgeted and spent," said Steven T. McFarland, director of the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom, one author of the brief "That's why churches have tax exemptions, becau.se taxes can be used to control re- ligious practices" The Justice Department's argument hinges on the con- clusion that money contributed to a church does not fall under the several categories of ex- emptions protecting personal assets in bankruptcy cases. However, as the churches' brief points out, had the Youngs spent the $13,450 on travel, lottery tickets, liquor or other luxuries, the amount would be out of creditors' reach. Federal codes say money that has been given away may be claimed by creditors. A Justice Department spokesman said the agency in- tervened in the case because it was seen as a test of the consti- tutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. John Russell said the department agreed with the creditors' trustee that religious freedom issues were irrelevant to the question of whether the $13,450 could be claimed as a nonexempt asset. According to the church group's brief, the district court and the Justice Department concluded no value was re- ceived by the Youngs for their church contributions. "Because it is not immedi- ately obvious how religious value and obligation fits into commercial concepts of value, they conclude that religious values and obligations do not exist," said the brief. In con- trast, bankruptcy code protects the debtors' right to spend un- secured assets as they see fit, as long as there is a legally perceptible value received. During the year before filing bankruptcy, the Youngs sold their home and made other ef- forts to pay off their creditors but continued their practice of tithing, according to the Cen- ter for Law and Religious Free- dom. The case might have passed unnoticed in "most legal circles if the Justice Department had not intervened, said several lawyers familiar with the case. By concluding religiods rights are not at issue in considering the value of church contribu- tions, the department has set "a terrible precedent," said Nancy Gannon, general coun- sel for the Catholic League. "As soon as the government came in, it gave this case a whole new look," Ms. Gannon said. "I had hoped this was a lower level government office making a bad decision, but ap- parently this is not the case. It would be less ominous if it were just one official offthe deep end." She and Justice De ment casts doubts op , mmstratmn s the Religious Restoration Act. designed to protect: raising the fying government in religious practiceS. After President ported the bill and goals at the Rose ing the partment's case to test the the face," said "He told 250 of Rose Garden would be highest levels said McFarland. ' ! Rita Koressel: She will be To the editor: but they are far frosa tant. They comfort and love they go. This one such woman, Rita Koressel secretary at Holy for the last 18 end of this school be retiring, a See In today's world, we often find ourselves searching for he- roes. We seek them among ath- letes, musicians, and actors. All too often we forget that there are true heroes and hero- ines right here among us. They are not famous, and they do not earn millions of dollars, Bishop's schedU The t'ollowing activities and events are listed or schedule of Bisho I) Gerald A. Gettelfinger. Confirmation at St. day June 12, 10:30 a.m. : Departure for NCCB Meeting, Calif., Monday June 13.