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July 5, 1996     The Message
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July 5, 1996
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana July --- Taking the time to make a difference--- Waiting and wondering: Will anyone help? The folded pieces of paper flipped and tumbled on the floor, but I did not see who had dropped them. I wondered what I should do about them. It happened at a local office of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehi- cles, where I had gone at lunch time to renew automobile license plates. I wasn't the only one there, of course, on the same mission• The office was nearly full, with only a few seats left for those who were waiting for service• By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR A sign proclaimed that the holder of white ticket number 84 was currently being served• I had white ticket num- ber 98. While I waited, I jotted down notes for a news story I was working on, and occasionally looked around at the people who held various documents in their hands or on their laps. As each new number was called, some one would rise and approach the counter. Those who had completed their business were walking out. New people were walking in, to approach an infor- mation desk. So it was in the middle of people rising, enter- ing, sitting, and exiting that the folded documents on the floor caught my eye. I wondered if they came from the woman who had just approached the Vatican Letter counter, or if they were already on • " ' e That's unfair, but I still can t figur the floor and had been kicked by someone in passing• The room was crowded, but no one else seemed to notice the papers. Others walked past them, over them, paying no at- tention to them. When my number was called, I approached the counter and started to take care of the business at hand. My eyes, however, were drawn again and again to the documents on the floor. Should I pick them up? Do I care whose documents they are? Will someone lose time or money without them? Or is what I see only some old scraps of official looking paper that some one has discarded? I picked them up, and told the person behind the counter that these papers were on the floor• A person waiting in a nearby chair said immediately, "That woman with the glasses dropped them." I was surprised that someone had seen another person drop some documents, but would not do any- thing about it. It was hard not to judge harshly, to think that the woman in the chair was an un-caring person, who just did not want to get involved. She probably would have shut her windows if she had heard someone outside screaming. one else would help. Nor have I understood my0.wn initial reluctance• What took me so long? When have you witnessed a situation you could be of assistance? Perhaps you have seena stranded motorist, or you found another person's: property. What have you done? '  Talk with members of your family, or friends about the reluctance -- or the you have seen, when a person could have used help. Concern for safety on the streets and is certainly a major component of pres Danger to life or limb, however, should not be a major factor in a waiting room. Take the time today to members to be helpful to each other. Lead by exam! ple. ' Take some time to evaluate how your congregation serves people who have find a need for improvement, do something Perhaps you can find a way to pleasant for those who wait in doctors' offices or! waiting rooms for government services• If each of us is more courteous to just one ............ person, we will make a difference• Comments about this column are prleing@cfm.org or the Christian Famil : P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Sounds of silence: Words not spoken have reverbe By JOHN TtIAVIS Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) Pope John Paul II traveled to Germany in June to cast the. light of faith on some dark his- torical chapters. Curiously, what he didn't say sparked almost as much reaction as what he did. That's because the issue was a perennially painful one: Whether church leaders, in- cluding Pope Plus XII, spoke out strongly enough against Hitler's Nazi regime and its persecution of the Jews. It's not unusual these days for Pope John Paul to skip pas- sages in his prepared texts, as a time-saving practice. The texts are still considered valid, though the words are never pronounced. But in Germany, people saw a pattern in the cuts. First he skipped over two paragraphs praising the resistance offered by the entire German church to Nazism. Then he dropped a paragraph defending Pope Plus XlI and his moral leader- 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 Evanswlle PulJsher .............. Bishop Gerad A. Gettelfinger Editor ....................................... Paul R. Leingang Produon Technician ................ Joseph Detrich /fvesing .................................... Paul New,and Staff Wnter ............................. Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. . Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724 -0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as periodical matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publication number 843800 Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Pub!icat,on Cx2qp,/rjht !996 Catt Press of Eva,#ie i ship during the war. Was the pope unconvinced by the remarks, which were drafted in advance by his aides on themes submitted by bish- ops? Or was he trying to avoid • stirring up debate on the sub- ject? For Tullia Zevi, ,president of the Italian Jewish community in Rome, the pope accom- plished an act of "ecumenical wisdom" by dropping the pas- sages. More attuned than oth- ers to Jewish sensibilities, he probably saw the comments as a source of potential conflict, she said. But one Italian newspaper complained that the pope had shown insensitivity to the memory of Pope Plus XII. U.S. Jesuit Father Robert Graham, the Vatican's chief historian on the World War II period, said he considered the dropped phrases "much ado about nothing•" But he said the speculation that followed was in keeping with more than 50 years of debate over the role of Pope Plus XII. That, too, has involved sto- ries of missing or "suppressed" papal statements. In the aftermath of the Ger- man trip, for example, Italian newspapers ran articles about a never-published encyclical against anti-Semitism, said to have been written by Pope Plus XI shortly before he died and quietly shelved by his suc- cessor, Plus XII. This text, in the eyes of critics, was proof that Plus XII passed up an op- portunity to defend the Jews from Nazi policies. The real story, Father Gra- ham said, is quite different and no less interesting. In the summer of 1938, Fa- ther Graham recounted, U.S. Jesuit Father John LaFarg e was traveling through Europe when he was summoned to a private audience with Pope Plus XI. When he arrived in the pope's chambers, the priest noticed On a coffee table a copy of his own book, "Interracial Justice." The pope told him: I've read your book, I like it, and I've been looking for someone to write an encyclical for me on racism. Write it as if you were the pope, and then we'll see. Taken aback by the strange commission, Father LaFarge spent months on the task, with assistance from a German pro- fessor at the Gregorian Univer- sity. The text was passed around secretly for various re- visions and eventually found its way to the pope's desk in January 1939. m t00Je editor Sister Nesmith a welcome addition To the editor:. Evansville Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger made the right choice in selecting Sister (Jane) Nesmith as the new parish (leader) for St. John Church lo- cated in Evansville's inner city area. tier immediate concern will be to listen to the heart of the Black community. Sister Ne- smith is Black and is no stranger to the Black Church in America and its people. Therefore I believe the Evansville Christian commu- nity should pull together and welcome this special person to our community with open arms upon her arrival in mid-August• Ron Lyles, president Steward Board Alexander Chapel, A.M.E. Evansville But by that time, Pope Plus XI was extremely ill and only a month away from death. To .this day, no one knows whether he ever had a hance to read the draft encyclical. When Pope Plus XII was elected, the text was filed away -- because, as Father Graham said, "with a new pope, you start from scratch." Few people knew about the document; Fa- ther Graham found out some 20 years later from Father La- Farge himself and managed to get a copy. "As I read it today my heart sinks. Thank God it didn't come out,  Father Graham said. The reason, he explained, was that it contained pre-Vati- can II theological thinking about the Jewish race, main- taining that their denial of Christ established a conflict with Christianity: "This would have been a real obstacle for the Vatican Coun- cil. How could you have come up with a document like 'Nos- trae Aetate' with an encyclical like this on the record?" he said. But equally important, it would have given Hitler just the sort of thing he could have exploited for anti-Jewish pro- paganda, "When you a: daism the Jews Messiah, you can German a 'Yeah, that's what saying all the time. awful people," The idea that if published, cot have prevented is fantasy, in opinion. Father Graha spent many Y the record of against in the face of Nazi believes the ficult but macy as a was saveable in destruction. What's often said, is he should bishops  who ,o mon thems.elw: respond to Hitler. have seen th papal l we call it cc Graham said. Pope John Pa youth lived pation of See .... Dinner wl th ........... day, July 8i ' : : Staff meeting, Catholic Cenr; 9 a.m. to noon. Mass and dinner at the Outpost' 11, 4 p,m. Ordination of Kenneth Ste Church, Huntingburg, Saturday ..... Bishop's sched The following activities and events are lil schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: