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July 19, 1996     The Message
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July 19, 1996

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!9, 1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 "ncial leader responds to Archabbot,s statement Statement from the publisher July 19, 1996 published on May 31, 1996, a letter addressed to the people of the Diocese of t Lambert Reilly of St. Meinrad Archabbey. letter was headlined "Archabbot expresse view On faculty firing:" It dealt with the April the St. Meinrad School of Theology of Dr. Carmel McEnroy, a member of the of the Sisters of Mercy of Ireland and South Africa (R.S.M.). is a letter from Sister Teresa O'Conneil, U.S. Provincial 'Leader of Dr.McEnroy's con- Sister O'Connell expresses her view on the matter. I have chosen to provide these two viewpoints without additional comment or .r accepted for publication, nor will letters to the edi- topic be published. is currently pending before a U.S. District Court, Following conclusion of the legal of the resolution, without comment. . . -- -- Most Rev. Ge  Gettelflnger " ]Publislibr, the Message o . pthe editor: of the U.S. Province of Ireland ca, I am respond- May 31 letter of Arch- Reilly, O.S.B., to the people of the Diocese. When the says, "Dr. McEnroy not to address the matter appropriate Church he is wrong. I submit of the congregation's ts to initiate dialog Meinrad School of The- to Sister Carmel's dismissal in May 1995. On April 12, 1995, the Central leadership in Dublin faxed the following to President Rector Eugene Hensell, O.S.B., who signed Carmel's tenured con- tract in 1992: "We are concerned for one of the sisters of our congregation, Carmel McEnroy, who, it ap- pears is in danger of losing her post in St. Meinrad's because of signing the open letter request- ing the continuation of the dia- logue on the ordination of women. We fail to understand how signing this letter as a pri- vate individual would warrant such a far:reaching response. Carmel is a valued member of our congregation, and our hope is that this matter can be re- solved with charity and justice." Rev. Hensell never acknowl- edged the letter. On April 30, 1995, nine sisters of the Ballymahon community wrote to Archabbot Sweeney and the Rev. Hensell, saying: "Sister Carmel is a past pupil of our Secondary School... and a member of our Mercy Congrega- tion . . . for about 40 years. A woman of the highest integrity, she has dedicated her life to Christ and to the teaching of his Gospel. She has always searched for the truth and has consistently displayed great courage in speak- ing it. Therefore, it is with deep shock and regret that we read of her job at St. Meinrad's being called into question. As we un- derstand the situation, she is a tenured professor, and her con- tract includes clear specifications of academic freedom and private rights .... We consider the issue to be one ofjustiee and feel confi- dent that in this instance, you will take the necessary procedures to ensure that justice is done. Sister Carmel has our full support .... We feel saddened and hurt that she shouldbe in any way the vic- tim of injustice, and we urge you to reinstate her without delay." The sisters received no re- sponse to their letter. Had this been a male professor, would the Archabbot have communicated with his Provincial, as he did in other instances? When Archabbot Reilly says, "Her removal was a Church mat- ter and was handled according to Church Law," he is wrong. Sis- ter Carmel received her contract from St. Meinrad. not from "the What's the answer? everything faster and faster, and easier and easier. As a society, we simply don't tolerate compli- cations or delays very well. Just listen to our language: when faced with a problem or a ques- tion, we look for a "quick fix" or the "short answer", we move to the "bottom line," "get to the heart of the matter" and "cut to the chase." Yet we know from personal ex- perience that the quick and easy answer is oRen not the best an- swer. In the extreme, our grow- ing national obsession with quick mic truth. So she roused her near-comatose friend to ask the ultimate ontological question: "Gertrude, before you leave us, please tell me: What's the an- swer? What's the answer?" Gertrude stirred, opened her eyes slightly, labored to take a breath, and said in a voice just above a whisper: "What was the ques- tion?" How often do we rush to find an answer before we even know the question! Our Catholic faith is not im- mune 'to our society's great "hurry-up drive." We often want ! and easy answers fosters vie- quick and easy answers to faith :! lence and the tragedies and morals questions. Unfortu- STlNmmentary produces :: 13irector, CLEMENTSoffice of of murder, suicide and abortion, nately, for many of us, if the an-  So how do we cope with this swers we find don t coincide with burgeoning need for speed and our personal biases, we keep lei i'7 "---I------ instant solutions? How do we looking until we find answers we i " move toward former President like! WUai!i!sht:AdTi:!!i GeorgeBush's"kinder, gentler .Dung his homily at our nation?" Perhaps we can find a parish s recent First Communion tsOy:iyEVen if you are consei- clue in this story about a dying liturgy, our pastor asked the first _s Ing to live your life woman's last words, communicants one of the great ! r, moxed pace, Gertrude Stein was an early faith questions: "What do you 5'_bombarded with rues- . twentieth century writer whose have to do to get to heaven?  :ressure you to hurry search for meaning confounded After a long pause, one of the P*'Uest way. W' and influenced an entire genera- youngsters confidently raised his /e in a wo.rldofex- tion of famous authors. Her life- s, fast food restau- Iongfriend was a woman named gto s,'in;:; Alice B. Toklas. Alice kept vigil Washin n same- as Gertrude lay on her deathbed, i then' " She revered Gertrude'sgreat wis- Continued from page 4 S frame- speed dial, onslaught on our li:'mail and fax ms- seem to want dom and, as she sat next to her dying friend, she was suddenly overwhelmed with fear that Gertrude would die before she could express one final great cos- p by the Book who are just must be kind," Sunday's first reading. If our and deeds are kindand self- 'we will be like the good seed Gospel parable and gathered in the Lord's harvest. Academy Award-winning movie, *4 F# Dead Man Walking, about Sis- ter of St. Joseph Helen Prejean's experiences as a death-row coun- selor has been hugely successful in stimulating discussion about capital punishment, Bedou said. "But that will fade,  he added. "In five years much more promi- nent in the minds Gf the public will be the latest case of a paroled kidnapper Who goes out and murders someone." Bedoti attributes continuing public support ofcapital punish- ment to a lack of education ef- forts, which he doesn't expect to change any time soon. In the absence of a strong po- litical figure to lead such efforts, hand and blurted out the defini- tive answer: "DIE!" Although ab- solutely correct, it was not the answer Father had anticipated! How would you answer that same question: "What do I have to do to get to heaven?" Volume upon volume of theological trea- tises for 2,000 years would sug- gest there is no quick and easy answer. But 1 would like to pro- pose one word that not only an- swers the question, but also pro- rides a solution for many -- if not all -- of the major issues which confront our Church and our so- ciety today. That word is STEW- ARDSHIP. The U.S. bishops, in their re- cent pastoral letter on Steward- ship, defined the Christian stew- ard as "one who receives God's gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them injustice and love with oth- ers, and returns them with in- crease to the LordY If all Chris- tians truly lived this beautifully written definition, what problem, issue or concern facing our Church." Church Law provides due process and Sister Carmel was denied that process. Her lawyer waited a year before fil- ing the suit in federal court, giv- ing St. Meinrad ample time to re- dress its wrongdoing. It is regrettable that the new Archabb0t endorsed his prede- cessor's action instead of reach- ing out to Sister Carmel and her community in a just and healing manner. Now she is asking the civil court for the justice denied her by St. Meinrad under the guise of "Church Law." She had no other recourse. At the first United States Provincial Chapter in June 1995, the sisters gave Sister Carmel a standing ovation and stated: "We . . . stand in solidarity with our sister.., out of concern and sympathy for the lack of due process in her recent dismissal. ... We pledge ourselves to con- tinue to explore ways of elimi- nating unjust structures in church and society." Sister Carmel McEnroy con- tinues to have solid community support. Sister Teresa O'Connell U.S. Provincial Leader Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of Ireland and South Africa Church and our society would not be eliminated? Of course, this would put certain people out of work such as Oprah, Sally Jessy Raphael, Montel Williams, Ricki Lake, Geraldo Rivera, etc., etc., since our churches, schools and social service agencies would have more than enough financial and eople" resources to combat society's ills. If our religion and our faith sometimes seem complicated, it's probably because we humans have created the complexity. Jesus' basic message was clear and simple: ifyou want to be my . disciple, you must be a good steward. Stewardship is a re- quirement, not an option! Jesus' "great commandment" was not: "pass judgment on others, look for people to blame, and shake your finger at as many people as you can in your lifetime*; it was: love God and love your neighbor as yourself." So ifyou need a fast and easy answer to: hat must I do to get to heaven?', Jesus has provided it: =Be a good steward." I I 11 I III IIIl[I Ill I II I III Ill I iiii II ilrl [11 II ii I I I ] religious leaders have had the issue all to themselves. The Catholic conferences of more than 15 states have in the last few years issued public statements or pastoral letters against capital punishment. Sev- eral such statements have been updated since the 1994 publica- tion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church," which says capital punishment is inappro- priate in a society where alter- nate means are available to keep the public safe and punish the offender. And based on Pope John Paul Ira 1995 encyclical "Evangelium Vitae,  ('The Gospel of Life'), even stronger reservations about the death penalty will be incor- porated into a catechism revi- sion, according to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In the encyclical, the pope said punishment "ought not to go to the extreme of executing the of- fender except in cases of abso- lute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible to otherwise defend society." Although the Catholic hierar- chy has moved significantly in the last 25 years to oppose the death penalty, Bedou doesn't ex. pect the bishops' leadership to have much effect on Catholics, who suppert capital punishment at about the same rate as the rest of the nation.