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Evansville, Indiana
July 5, 1996     The Message
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July 5, 1996

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1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Bishop's Forum- news and bad news Ours is a wonderful diocese. It aalive. It is vibrant. It is exciting e a throbbing life. )s a about us enthusiasm. With en- es the desire for ex- growth. And that is is happening. There are plans projects alone that require (at this moment) about aillion dollars. And, if looking fUture is important, as I : it is, that is very good news. l" news comes with of limits. Our diocese to a growing, ex- family. Most parents are faced with imme- needs and "needs" that are elective in the of their fulfillment. house? A second car? New furniture room? A patio? A trip to Disneyland? . can we afford this year? A new church? A parish center? A new corn- in our school? Air conditioning for our can our parish afford this year? items that are necessary for the family well-being are never a source of concern ex- who are poverty ridden. Families do them and sacrifice everything to get or meet the immediate need. Parishes Same. 1 families, parents make these decisions. In the pastors with parish councils make s. Necessary actions are taken. Deci- Lbout elective matters take greater delibera- key questions are: Can we ever afford it? afford it now? Do we need to borrow? Will )rove our loan? Will we be able to ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER m maybe not so bad! meet the repayment schedule on a timely basis? Have we figured the additional operational costs related to our new building on an annual basis? The Church, in its wisdom -- knowledge tempered by experience -- has written into its law the re- quirement that each parish have a finance council (which, in our dio- cese, is a committee of its parish council). It also demands that dio- ceses bave a finance council of members expert in financial mat- ters to counsel the bishop. Those are in place in our diocese. With respect to financial matters, the bishop must seek the counsel of the diocesan financial council. In other matters he must have their con- sent. In extraordinary acts of administration, the bishop must also have not only the counsel of the diocesan finance counsel,'but consent as well. In the same matters, the bishop must have consent of the diocesan consultors. They are mem- bers of the council of priests. To borrow from external sources constitutes, in the mind of this bishop, an extraordinary act of ad- ministration. In other dioceses, circumstances may be different due to explosive growth where new parishes must be established. Such an act may be ordinary as it is in the case of the Diocese of Phoenix where my classmate is bishop. For us in this diocese to seek external funding, however, is extraordinary. For that reason I have sought ap- propriate counsel. Our immediate and projected building projects cannot be done on the timelines requested without external financing. In our country, a bishop may borrow up to $5 million from external sources with the consent of the Diocesan Consultors and Finance Council. (Be- yond that he must have consent from the Vatican.) I proposed to our board of consultors and to the finance council this question: "Is it prudent for Bishop Gettelfinger to obligate the Diocese of Evansville for external loans at market rates in order to meet the demands of anticipated building projects." Yod have read in another place in this issue the response of the Board of Diocesan Consultors. Hence, the Diocesan Finance Council was not con- sulted since I needed the consent of both bodies. The implications are simple. We will address those elective needs on the basis of available funds from internal sources. Parishes and institutions will have to wait, if necessary, to fulfill their dreams. As an aside comment, there is a solution |br those parishes who feel the need more immediate than do the Consultors and Finance Council. It is simple and we have precedence for it: pre-paid tu- ition for high school Parishes who feel the need for building is im- mediate, might employ the same practice. Instead of pledges paid on a periodic basis to the parish, pledges to the parish are paid immediately by rea- son of loans from the bank. The parish is able, then, with "up front" cash able to move forward. In such a way, the building project would meet dioce- san requirements. If this were the case, the bishop would not have to consider external financing. The Diocesan Consultors have made it clear that external financ- ing is not prudent at this time. Such is the wisdom of the moment. ment on lmmi ration Is My Commandment: Love One Another As I Love You (Jn 15:12) ' ..... )Wing is the text of a issued June 21 by hnthon M. Pills of president of the Na- of Catholic With the unanimous of the U.S. bishops national meeting an alien resides with land, do not molest treat the alien with you no differ- the natives born have the same love for for you aliens in the I, the Lord, (Lv 19: 33-34) ;holic bishops of States take seri- responsibility en- them as pastors to speak on be- who cannot themselves. We .n frequently in of our concerns treatment of immi- Ld refugees in the Regrettably, statement just a public debate has en more acrimo- Congress is now the final form of ' that runs *oth to Christian ad the proud tradi- nation of immi- rch has long ac- the right and the of nations to reg- for the pro- common good. it is appropri- States to en- gage in a debate about its im- migration and refugee policies. Unfortunately, though, that debate has taken on a punitive tone which seems to seek to di- minish the basic human dig- nity of the foreign-born. In particular, I express grave concern and dismay at provisions of the legislation which would target the most vulnerable among us  chil- dren, the sick, and the needy -- in an impractical effort to cure our nation's social and economic ills. Health care and education are among the most basic of human rights to which ne's neighbor is then not only a human being... but becomes the living image of God the Father .... ii all have a moral claim, yet this legislation seeks to restrict severely or flatly deny these rights to those who were not born in this country. Indeed, there is a disregard for human life in this legislation which is inconsistent with the Gospel and which I find morally objec- tionable. Refugees and asylum seek- ers, those fleeing persecution and possible death in search of safe haven in the United States, risk the real possibility of being returned immediately to their oppressors as a conse- quence of this legislation. As emphasized by the bishops in a statement last year, these peo- ple "have a special moral standing and thus require spe- cial consideration."(1) The health and well-being of immigrants who gain entry into the United States are sim- ilarly threatened by this legis- lation. All of us at some point may be affected by hunger, poor health, housing needs, family crises and aging. This legislation is so overreaching and restrictive that it would make it almost impossible for legal taxpaying immigrants to seek assistance when con- fronted with these vicissitudes of life. The undocumented are put even more at risk. They may be faced with deporta- tion simply for seeking food and medical care for them- selves and their children. By denying these most basic needs merely on the basis of where a person was born is to place the health and well- being of the entire commu- nity at risk. Furthermore, undocu- mented children could be de- nied access to education in a misguided effort to hold them accountable for the actions of their parents. Consequently, immigrant youths face the pos- sibility of being left illiterate and idle, turned out on the streets to be tempted by crime and delinquency -- or to be- come their victims. Teachers will be forced to become de facto agents of the Immigra- tion and Naturalization Ser- vice. Surely, the common good cannot be served by such mea- sures. Finally, at a time when great emphasis is being placed on the renewal of the American family, this legislation would effectively prevent the reunifi- cation of immigrant families by mandating financial tests which would be impossible for most sponsors to meet. I be- lieve this to be contradictory and counterproductive. Immi- grants, like the native-born, draw strength from their fami- lies in times of need, and as we said in our statement last year: "Family reunification remains the appropriate basis for just immigration policy.'(2) The principles of human dig- nity and human solidarity, which the church has long taught, should be factors in shaping the goals of public pol- icy, including immigration. Pope John Paul II has force- fully spoken on the need for solidarity: "Solidarity is undoubtedly a Christian virtue .... One's neighbor is then not only a human being with his or her own rights and a fundamental equality with everyone else, but becomes the living image of God the Father, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and placed under the perma- nent action of the Holy Spirit. One's neighbor must therefore be loved, even if an enemy, with the same love with which the Lord loves him or her; and for that person's sake one must be ready for sacrifice, even the ultimate one: to lay down one's life for the brethren (cf. I Jn. 3:16)."(3) Pope Paul vrs lament nearly 30 years ago that "human soci- ety is sorely lift(4) sadly is still true today. Now as then, we agree that the cause of society's illness may be attributed to "the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations.'(5) Therefore, all peo- ple, and particularly those who have been entrusted with lead- ership, arb given the moral charge to build up the ties be- tween individuals and nations. I call on Congress and the pres- ident to address and correct the punitive previsions of the pend- ing immigration legislation which will provide for a more thoughtful bill respecting the human dignity of our foreign- born sisters and brothers who aspire to come to our country. In welcoming them, we wel- come Jesus himself. Footnotes 1. NCCB Committee on Mi- gration, "One Family Under God," 1995, p.9. 2. Ibid., p. 11. 3. John Paul II, encyclical letter "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis," 1987, No. 40. 4. Paul VI, encyclical letter "Populorum Progressio," 1967, No. 66. 5. Ibid. Vatican Continued from psge 4 words on the subject in Berlin: =Anyone who does not limit himself to cheap polemics knows very well what Plus XII thought of the Nazi regime and how much he did to help count- less people who were perse- cuted by this regime," the pope said. At least, that's the official record from June 23, 1996. But it will carry an asterisk: The words never passed the pope's lips.