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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
July 25, 1997     The Message
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4 The Message -- for Csthollcs of Southwestern Indiana --Taking the time to make a difference--- Where are you going? By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR There was some commotion in the commuter plane as we searched for our seats. A passenger with his wits about him helped prevent a ter- rible experience for two travelers. As my wife and I put a carry-on bag beneath a seat and began to fit our seat belts into place, the commo- tion was in the aisle of the small air- craft, a few feet behind us. At first, we could not figure out what was happening. I had not seen anyone else in the plane, because the ceiling was low about shoulder high for me -- and I had to walk with my face toward the floor. When I sat down, I could look around, and that's when I saw the questioning conversation taking place. The plane was not well lit, but I could tell that the two passengers standing in the aisle were ask- ing a question of a man who was seated. The man did not seem to understand the question, which was spoken with the pronunciation of someone for whom English is a foreign language. While I couldn't tell what was going on at the time it happened, I was able to put it all together a little later. The two passengers were asking the seated man where to find the seats to which they were assigned. They showed him their boarding passes. That's when the man spotted the problem. We were all getting ready for our flight from Atlanta to Evansville, but the two questioning passengers had tickets to go to Val- dosta, Ca. That's where the confusion escalated, as the two foreign travel- ers kept repeating their question about their seats, and the obser- vant passenger kept telling them over and over that they were on the wrong plane. A flight attendant helped straighten things out, finally, escorting the two travelers back to the airport terminal. We all wondered how they had gotten past the ticket-taker and the flight attendant m and we wondered even more, if they had been able to get to the correct plane in time to continue their trip. All we knew for sure was that they would not be stepping out of a plane late on a Sunday night, thinking that the place they landed was Georgia and not Indiana. Think about the journeys you have taken, in the air or in your personal growth. Who has traveled with you? Talk with others in your household, or among your friends, about your experiences. When did you discover that some of the people on the j you had different destinations? '  : High school classmates, career colleagues ried partners -- many people have many changes along the path to today. Talkwith : your family or friends about such adjustments along the way. At times, perhaps, the people closest not understand us. Take the time carefully to another person traveling with yoU. of us at times speaks a personal and unique Inn. guage learned from circumstances age and experience. Perhaps today is the day to discuss plans for school, or for you to share the story of your own travels toward your destination. Perhaps today is the day to helt a decision about its future. Take the time to : involved in the plans. Perhaps today is the day to look borhood, and to ask yourself if you things are going. Your neighborhood might the city or the state where you live, or world we all share. Take the time to help another on Comments about this column are prleing@cfm.org or the Christian Family i P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. :: Washington Letter Constitutional amending: Sometimes slow, often By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The cry "Amend the Constitution" is enjoying a wave of popularity in Washington in response to frus- trations over prayer in schools, zoning codes, lack of patriotism and other issues. In the 210 years since the Con- stitution was ratified, the amend- ment call has only succeeded 27 times, though it has been sound- ed tens of thousands of times for hundreds of causes. Many of those causes rever- berate for generations without advancing very far through the process. Take amendments pro- hibiting tax support for parochial schools and declaring Christian- ity to be the basis of the nation. Their basic language differs little from contemporary rhetoric on the subjects, though they date back to the 1860s and 1870s, respectively. Still, the pursuit of constitu- tional amendments has become I II The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711  Weekty no, wspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Putsher ............. Bishop GeraJd A. Gettelfinger Edt' ...................................... Paul R. Lngang Pr Technician ............... Joseph DietriCh Advertising ................................... Paul New,and Staff Whist ........................... 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 periodi matter at Ihe post offCe in Evs,"z,/, IN 47701. Publication number 843800. er: Relt'n POD forms 3579 to Off 1997  Press of E I I a popular tool for making state- ments about fundamental parts of life in the United States. For example, the Equal Rights Amendment and a child labor prohibition, both dating from the 1920s, failed as amendments, but nevertheless prompted leg- islation and social changes to remedy the root problems tar- geted by reformers. One current amendment effort may have been given an unin- tended boost by the Supreme Court this summer. With the court's June 25 rul- ing that Congress lacked author- ity to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, known as RFRA, supporters of a religious rights amendment to the Consti- tution are hoping to invigorate their campaign. As much as they want to secure those religious rights, some prominent First Amend- ment attorneys say a constitu- tional amendment is neither nec- essary nor desirable. In a July 14 congressional hearing, the attorney who led a coalition to pass RFRA warned that a constitutional amend- ment "would risk creating larg- er problems than the one we seek to solve." The Rev. Oliver Thomas, a Baptist minister and special counsel on religious and civil lib- erties for the National Council of Churches, also reminded the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution that often "decades pass before the true meaning of an amendment can be deciphered by the courts." Another First Amendment expert, Notre Da/ne University law professor Douglas W. Kmiec, told Catholic News Service that an amendment is unnecessary because the court is gradually fixing a judicial bias against reli- gion through rulings like this term's Agostini vs. Felton. In that case, the court reversed a previous decision and said feder- al remedial reading funds may be used for teachers to work on- site at religious schools. According to Kmiec, trying to fix the religious rights problem with a constitutional amend- ment campaign also might send exactly the wrong message to the American people. "Much of the modern debate about constitutional amendments What did Cain say? To the editor: An answer to John Michael O'Leary's letter. He states "that the Lord even went so far as to say that if a human being were to put Cain to death that Cain would be blessed seven-fold?" The bible does not say that Cain is blessed. The bible says Cain will be under a curse, and Cain will be a restless wanderer on the earth. Then, the Lord put a mark on Cain so no one would kill him -- and if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over. Does Cain say, "My blessings are more than I can bear?" Or does the bible say that Cain said, "My punishment is more than I can bear?" Cain is under protection and nowhere does the bible say Cain will be blessed seven-fold. But it does say vengeance will be seven times over. Alvin Robards Evansville has turned out to be political pos- turing," Kmiec said, citing the fre- quent pushes for a federal bal- anced budget amendment, which always fall just a few votes short in Congress of the two-thirds vote needed to send the measure to the states for ratification. Most citizens know amend- ment drives have very little chance of succeeding, he contin- ued. Therefore, politicians who say a constitutional amendment is needed to restore religious rights may be perceived as being more interested in politics than the problem. "It may well suggest that nobody's serious about it, that all the talk is idle, designed to not do anything," Kmiec said. Historically, amending the Constitution has proven to be difficult, sometimes remarkably slow and, ultimately, rarely suc- cessful. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, took three years to pass from their being intro- duced in 1789 to taking effect in 1791. However, even when there were only 13 states, it wasn't simple to pass the amendments despite their broad popular and political support. Yet thre: states dropped the ratification effort soon after the required three-fourths of the states approved the amendments because their legislatures got hung up over details. The three, Massachusetts, Georgia and Con- necticut, didn't get around to rat- ifying the amendments until 1939 in a symbolic celebration of the 150th anniversary Constitution. Few from junior recall 12 have been in the sentation failed. The second, that any pay rm bers of effect until afte finally completeq tion process on becoming the 27t 203 years after  duced in Congress That makes the constitutional one of the Ratifying tional ly so drawn-out. has introduction in fication. The lowering the completed weeks after it was Congress in 1971, Nor has the tutional clear. The 1 abe than five opposite amen( brief sucCeSS. The ieally states and was of the President two states War Vacation until July 31, 1997 j" : e