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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
July 9, 1993     The Message
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July 9, 1993

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana .-- Perspective-- Reader reminds us to keep in touch.., today. We all get form letters in the mail, but very few of us thank the sender. Then there is Lee Etta Brames of Jasper. Her thank you note came on the bottom of a subscription re- newal reminder sent out by the Message. What she wrote has to be one of the nicest things any- one has ever written in response to a form letter. Usually, when I see some- thing written on a subscription renewal reminder, I cringe. I ex- pect to be informed about how incompetent I am for sending the letter to someone who already sent in the renewal fee. We are still in the process of trying to improve the handling of our mailing list, sa some of the criticism is certainly legiti- mate. But just because it is right doesn't make it pleasant. Lee Etta's letter began on one side of the form and was continued on the other. Without reading a word, I was prepared for the worst. I was not By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR prepared for what she had written -- an apology and a thank you. "Sorry you had to send me a reminder," the letter began. "I had a reminder laying on my kitchen table for three months," she continued. "I put off doing things." Lee Etta suggested that "putting off" doing things would be a good topic for my column. I agree. Her experience with delaying doing what ought to be done has broad application. It goes far be- yond a newspaper renewal no- tice. It goes to the heart of all rela- tionships with other people. Here is what she wrote about putting off doing things: "I do it all the time. I hate myself when I do. Because sometimes the results are not very pleasant. For instance, I don't get in touch with certain people as often as I should. And now they are gone and I'm here and I have to live with myself." Lee Etta's comments struck home with me not in a morbid or guilt-ridden way, but in .... the cheerful way in which it was intended. There is little to be gained by feeling guilty: about what has happened -- or has not hap- pened -- in the past. But there is quite a bit to , be gained from the encouragement of her note. When it comes to keeping in touch with the people who are important to us, now is the best: ,, c time to do it. It may be the only time there is, A pre-printed notice may serve as a re- minder, but nothing can ever replace the per-: ', sonal touch of a call or a letter w or even a note  on the bottom of a renewal form.  ::: Thank you, Lee Etta, for your "written blings," as you described them. You made my: day. If your comments prompt a handful of readers to get in touch with family and friends, your letter will have been immeasurably cessful. Thank you for your thoughts. Vatican Letter Clergy sexual abuse: Catching the bess's ear By JOHN THAVIS Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When you want decisive ac- tion at the Vatican, it helps to go right to the top. U.S. bishops may appreci- ate that fact after a timely in- tervention by Pope John Paul II on the problem of sexual abuse by priests. In a June letter to the U.S. episcopate, the pope called sexual abuse a great evil and said he shared the bishops' "sorrow and concern" over recent episodes, especially for the young victims in- volved. He also announced the formation of a joint U.S.- Vatican commission to study church legal procedures deal- ing with sexually abusive priests. The pope's bluntly worded Pope iiii1| IH I Continued from page 1 of indigenous communities at Sanctuary of Our Lady of Iza- mal, dedicated to the Immac- ulate Conception. Talk by pope. 12:05 p.m. (2:05 p.m.), Departure in helicopter from Izamal for Merida. 12:35 p.m. (2:35 p.m.), Arrival in Merida. The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Pub#shed weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansvdle Isher .............. Bsh Gerald A. Gott Edtor ....................................... Pau Leingang Prodln Manager ........................... Phil Boger Clat ...................................  t-kxn Amecr .................................... P New St wrm ................... : ........ Mary Ann Hughes Address a, communcatons tO P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 SubsCription rate: $12,00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2rid class matter at the post off-e in Evansville, IN 47701. Publlca- tr number 843800. Postrnastec Return POD forms 3579 Off of Putatn  1993  Pmo Evame r ] ] i .... letter had two immediate ef- fects: It demonstrated that dis- tress over sexual abuse once considered a quasi- taboo subject at the Vatican was not limited to the local church but is shared at the highest levels of the hier- archy. It broke up a bureau- cratic logjam one U.S. re- quest for more efficient legal procedures against pedophile priests. By the time the letter be- came public, the curial wheels were already in mo- tion. The six-man commis- sion named by the pope met in what may be record time: After a four-day (and evening) marathon session in June, the commission placed a preliminary set of recom- mendations in the pope's hands. "The thinking was that a pastoral question of this im- portance shouldn't wait," said one Vatican official. That thinking clearly came from above. For months, U.S. bishops had been arriving at the Vati- can in small groups during their "ad limina" visits, telling curia] officials about their deep concern over cases of sexual abuse and the inad- equacy of church law to deal quickly and decisively with proven offenders. They pointed out that in addition to the scandal and the pas- toral suffering, these cases were opening up dioceses to massive lawsuits. Since last veal Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua of Philadelphia had been lead- ing quiet negotiations with 12:50 p.m. (2:50 p.m.), Courtesy visit with President Carlos Salines de Gortari at the Executive Palace in Merida. 5:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m.), Mass for Merida population and indigenous peoples at es- planade of Xoclan-Mulsay in Merida. Sermon by pope. Thursday, Aug. 12 (Mexico- Denver) --. 8:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m.), Departure ceremony at Merida airport. Talk by pope. 9:15 a.m. (11:15 a.m.), Departure from Merida for Denver. 2:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m.), Welcoming ceremony at Sta- pleton International Airport in Denver, Talk by pope. 3:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m.), Courtesy visit with President Clinton at Regis University in Denver. 5:35 p.m. (7:35 p.m.), Welcoming ceremony by youths in Mile High Staclium. Talk by pope. Friday, Aug. 13 (Denver) 7:30 a.m. (9:30 a.m.), Concelebration of Mass with U.S. bishops at Denver cathe- dral. Greeting by pope. Satur- day, Aug. 14 (Denver) 9 a.m. (11 a.m.), Mass for delegates of International Youth Forum at Denver cathedral. Sermon by pope. 3:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m.), Liturgy of the Word for dele- gation of faithful from Denver Archdiocese at McNichols Arena in Denver. Talk by pope. 7:15 p.m. (9:15 p.m.), Meeting with young people attending World Youth Day at Cherry Creek State Park in Denver. Talk by pope. Sun- day, Aug. 15 (Denver-Rome) 9:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m.), Mass for youths and faithful of the region at Cherry Creek State Park. Sermon by pope. Angelus prayer, with brief talk by pope. 4:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m.), Meeting with representatives of U.S. Vietnamese Catholics in McNichols Arena. Talk by pope. 6:05 p.m. (8:05 p.m.), Visit with children at Mount St. Vincent Home in Denver. Greeting by pope, 7:15 p,m. (9:15 p.m.), Departure ceremony at Sta- pleton International Airport. Talk by pope. 7:45 p.m. (9:45 p.m.), Departure from Denver. Vatican officials over simpli- fying the laicization proce- dure for known offenders among the clergy, The bishops kept saying they received a good hearing at the Vatican, but there did not appear to be much fol- low-up. Some Vatican offi- cials reacted without nmch enthusiasm to what they con- sidered "short-cut" methods of laicizing priests. They pointed out that priests have rights, too, and the church has a responsibility to then]. One group of bishops was told that if they wanted ac- tion, they'd better go directly to the pope. That's what they did. The bishops raised the issue with the pope in their individual sessions and during group luncheons. Officials of the U.S. bishops' conference also spoke to him about it during their spring visit to the Vati- can. "The bishops came here and asked for an expression of papal concern. For many of them it was a very painful matter, and the pope under- stood this," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarre- Vails. Until this spring, the pope had not spoken publicly about sex abuse by priests. Several Vatican officials in- terviewed in March did not expect the pontiff to deal with the issue directly the U.S. "ad limina ..... ther. The curial officials ferred to speak about sex abuse, they expressed deep but were appr any Vatican statement only end up focusing attention on the The pope's letter that the question of abuse must not be with "sensatianali public opinion or media. But in pope was not sive, Navarre "The mentality is fensive one. There face the problem it, without hiding the spokesman When the fifth U.S. bishops in late June, the repeated th forts. The po "cleared the air ful way" and the wanted to shoW th tude, said William H. Keeler, of the National . Catholic Bishop.' The episode that in an organi the Vatican, ca bess's ear can make a ference. Bishop's sche The following activities and events are listed o i schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger. -Cotmcil of Priests, Catholic Center; 1,:30 p.m. Celellne july 11, Mass at St. Peter C.elvste ( lowed by parade and festiviti. Diocesan Finance Council, Wednesday, Jul 3:30 Bishop's staff,, y