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July 19, 1996     The Message
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July 19, 1996

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Ju Taking the time to make a difference-- A family approach to world-wide hospitality What a great idea! I saw the story while [ was read- ing through the available items from the Catholic News Service: News services gather and assemble stories from all over the world and make them available to newspapers and broadcasters and other news outlets. The story I spotted the "great idea" came from Atlanta. Dozens of churches of various Christian de- nominations, along with Jewish con- gregations and several civic organi- zations, had begun a cooperative : effort to provide hospitality for the" families of Olympic athletes coming to Atlanta. According to the story, the host family arrange- ment has never before been done before in connec- tion with the Olympics." The result of that idea'is an action that will.have an impact on the host families, and on the hosted families, for the rest of their lives. And on their neigh- bors, too, and their parishes and organizations. Families in and around Atlanta will have an op- portunity to get to know another family from another country real people with hopes and dreams and fears, successes and failures, pride and prejudice. Hosting the family of an Olympic athlete will allow a local family to become acquainted with someone's By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR mother and father, sister or brother. This is family ministry. My own family has been immea- surably enriched by hosting students from another country. We recently visited the family of a German stu- dent who had stayed with us for some weeks several years ago. We had en- joyed his presence in our house, and his mother and father welcomed us to their house. We also feel very close to a family in Mexico. We spent a week at their house, and their teenage daughter spent a month in our home. The richness of such an exchange is simple, but impossibly complex -- "foreigners" have become friends, "they" are just like "us," and we are all part of the same family of God. Reflecting on the families in Atlanta, and on my own family experience, a recent statement of the U.S. Catholic bishops seems to be more possible than it might first appear. You carry out the mission of the "church of the home," the bishops wrote, when you welcome the stranger, the lonely one, the grieving person into your home. You act justly in your community when you treat others with respect. It is all too easy for any of us to succumb to the temptation, to give up, to accept the notion that we: can't make a difference in the world. lanta will bear witness to the opposite, the one family can make have an impact on the one family at a time. Hundreds of families, perhaps thousands of fatal::! lies, will make the connection from "them" to "us" this = summer. O,r Take the time today to look for one opportumty t : host an individual or a family from another city or nation. Investigate the needs of students at a local college, or visiting families at a local hospital. Are there regional or natfonal sporting your home town? Are there opportunities events for you to get to meet another family from an-. other part of the country? Does your church or congregation have some sion relationship with another part of the "sister" parish in Haiti, or a sil a ministry in another country? Take the more than a financial contribution; make a connection through that ministry, e- Take the time to make a world of difference  on : family at a time. Comments about this column, are welcome at. or the Christian Family Movemen ,u, P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. -- Washington Letter Years of death penalty brings little change in crime, opi By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Twenty years ago this summer. the U.S. Supreme Court upheld new capital punishment statutes passed by Georgia, Florida and Texas, reinstating state-spon- sored executions four)iears after previous laws were found to be arbitrary and cruel. I the intervening decades, 331 people have been executed by 25 states, while 3,112 more sit on death row in 34 states and in federal prisons. Ithas become a standard tactic for politicians to portray themselves as tough on crme by backing capital pie n- ishment along with about 80 percent of the country. Despite evidence of capital punishment,s firm placein American society, abolitiofiists remain committed to endingthe death 15enalty: U.S. Catholic bishops regularly declare their opposition, recently relying o n a in the modern world. But the feeling remains that American society is too attached to the idea of capital punishment to accept what its opponents have long contehded -- it's no deterrent to crime and it still is applied inequitably. "Nothing has really changed," acknowledged Steven Hawkins, executive director of the Na- tional Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "All the problems that the Supreme Court thought it remedied 20 years ago have just evolved and are just as vir- ulent." Just as when the court in 1972 tossed out the nation's death penalty laws, the vast majority of people convicted of capital crimes under the "improved" post-1972 statutes are African- American or Hispanic and poor. Lack of adequate legal repre- sentation is a significant factor in capital convictions and cuts in federal legal aid funds over the last two years are expected to only worsen the situation. The July 3 release of four men whose convictions for a Chicago- Letter to the editor + Abortion and politics " TO the Editor: I have just finished reading an article from Human Life Inter- national "[t's clearly a sin to vote fop pro-abortion politicians" by 1995 papa! encyclical and the Fathel: Matthew Habiger, April "Catechism of the Catholic L996, HLI Reports. This reprint Church" to Support their belief 'WS * ihciuded in Ou r parish Sun- that exec.utions are unnecessary da)" bul}etin. " The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville PubNshed weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansviffe Publisher ............. Ishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Etor ...................................... Paul R. Leingang Productn Technician .............. Joseph Dietrich Advertising ................................... Paul Newlafld Staff Wrffer ............................ 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, Publica- ,t!on number 843800 Postmasler: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Pubiicatoi CcIC,,':. I Ca,ffxt.iic Pre of Evartsv.(! I agree with Father Habiger's analysis of the Catholic obliga- tion to vote pro-life. I try to vote pro-life and have been teased for being a single-issue voter. Nevertheless... I have a practical problem with attaching sin to voting ac- tivity. Currently, American Catholics have ample opportu- nity to vote pro-life. Most candi- dates are very open about their beliefs. It hasn't always been this way, though. Until the Re- publican Party put the pro-life plank in it's platform, and it be- came a campaign issue, no one really knew who was or wasn't pro-life. The Democratic Party has de- fined itself as pro-choice. I un- derstand that now the Republi- can Party will decide whether to kee I) the pro-life plank or drop it. If they drop the plank, what will Catholic voters do? Vote for members of a party that has a short attention span when it comes to pro-life issues? Do we sin if we do that? Or do we just drop out? I'm sure that Father Habiger would say that he was referring to Catholics who consistently vote for pro-choice candidates. But what about voting for a can- didate who would permit abor- tion under certain circum- stances? The Catholic Church believes that fetal death may ONLY be an unintended out- come of efforts to save the mother's life. Try to find one cur- rent candidate who would deny an abortion to the victim of rape or incest. Do we sin if we vote for these candidates? I would like to encourage dis- cussion from other readers of the Message and from any clergy who care to comment. This is an important issue for all of us. Personally, I'm going to con- tinue to vote my conscience, picking the best candidate avail- able, and continue to support local pro-lilb elibrts. Diana Melton Evansville . area murder were overturned when someone else confessed after 18 years showed that "there are still all the problems with the number of innocent peo- ple there," Hawkins said. Even ardent supporters of the death penalty admit it seems to have no deterrent effect with crimi- nals, he added. Yet public support for capital punishment has increased since the mid-1970s, Hawkins said. "The public's fear and percep- tions about violence have caused them to react out of fear," he said. "People are more and more frustrated about crime. And their support for the death penalty is a symbol of their frus- tration and feelings of power- lessness." Since January 1977, when Gary Gilmore became the first person executed in the United States in a decade when Utah had a firing squad, all but 12 states and the District of Columbia have revived the death penalty. Of those with cap- ital punishment, 13 states have not executed anyone; four New York, Wyoming, Kansas and New Hampshire have no one on death row. "Support for is a mile wide and an 1 said Hugo A. Bedou, a versity philosophy is working on the of his book, 'rh in America." When asked the simp le tion, "Do you punishment?" about of Americans say given a choice and life imprisonment parole, support ishment drops by | said. Politicians have linking fears of "quick fix" of the to the point that wisdom holds it to suicide to oppose ment, Bedou said. "There is not tant national ing capital he noted Gov. Mario 1995, no of a national conspicuous abolit The release See WASHING Bishop's schedU The following activities and events are listed on the ule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: Vacation, July 16-31. Council of Wednesday, Aug. 7, 1:30 p.m. i Catholic Foundation of Inc, Catholic Center, St. Meinrad Alumni C Aug, 7, and Thursday, Aug. 8. American Benedictine Academy Monastery Immaculate Conception, Aug. 9, 11 a.m. Ground-breaking and Mass, Jasper, Sunday, Aug. 11, 8 a.m. Youth Day Mass, Marian Heights nand, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2:30 p.m.