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August 9, 1996     The Message
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August 9, 1996

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U The MESSAGE 25 years of serving Catholics of southwestern Indiana i VOLUME 26 NUMBER 49 August 9, 1996 I I Cardinal Bernardin plans initiative to end Catholic divisions CHICAGO (CNS) -- A group of U.S. Catholic leaders headed by Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago is planning a major new initiative to overcome the di- visions among Catholics. In an advisory to news media, the Chicago archdioce- san communications office said the cardinal would announce the initiative by him and 25 other church leaders at a press conference in Chicago Aug. 12. "We must act today to pre- pare our church for the new millennium," the advisory quoted Cardinal Bernardin as saying. The statement itself and the names of the other partici- pants -- described in the advi- sory as "eight other Catholic range of the perspectives in today's church" -- were not to be made public before the press conference. The communications office said the group was acting "be- cause suspicion, acrimony and 'ideological litmus tests of ei- ther the so-called left or the so- called right' have infected the whole spectrum of viewpoints within the Catholic Church in the United States . . . paralyz- ing efforts to address looming issues." The advisory quoted from the not-yet-released statement: "Unless we examine our situa- tion with fresh eyes, open minds and changed hearts, within a few decades a vital Catholic legacy may be squan- bishops and 17 Catholic lead, ..... dered, tothe laofboth ,the ers representing a significant church and thenatioh."  ' ishops decry Clinton decision on 'deeply flawed' welfare bill WASHINGTON (CNS) -- der urging President Clinton veto the latest welfare re- form measure because it "un- fairly targets hungry children ad legal immigrants," the .S. CathOlic bishops decried lis decision to sign a bill they Said is "deeply flawed." "This legislation may meet needs of politicians, but too many poor children," Bishop William S. Skyl- tad of Spokane, Wash., chair- man of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Policy, in a state- ment issued July 31 in Wash- ington after Clinton announced his decision. The legislation, which the House approved 328-101 the same day, passed in the Senate Aug. 1 by a vote of 78-21. On behalf of the prelates, Bishop Skylstad expressed "deep disappointment at the president's decision .... Our conference has been a strong Is the Assumption a. matter of faith? The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was celebrated by Christians as early as the seventh century, was proclaimed a doctrine of the Faith by Pope Pius XII on Nov. 1, 1950. The dogma of the Assumption states that Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven, after the completion of her earthly life, since by reason of her Immaculate Con- ception, she should not suffer the consequences of original sin. The Assumption is celebrated as a holy day of obliga- tion in the United States, on Aug. 15. Purdue Research item I consider myself .... Diocese Statewide Democrat 30% 28% Independent, leaning toward Democrat 19% 17% 24% 19% Independent. leaning toward Republican 15% 16% Republican 11% 18% Other 01% 01% advocate of genuine welfare re- form and an active opponent of this legislation because it fell far short of our criteria for re- form." In mid-July, as welfare bills were being debated in both houses of Congress, the bish- ops sent letters to senators, representatives and the White House, urging major changes in the bills to remove the fam- ily cap, reduce cuts in food and nutrition programs, avoid tar- geting legal immigrants, and keep intact a safety net for the poor. But when both houses ap- proved measures containing provisions the bishops opposed, they urged a presidential veto in a letter hand-delivered to the White House July 26. Clin- ton had vetoed two earlier wel- fare overhaul bills. In announcing his decision, the president said the current bill had "serious flaws," but still provided "a historic oppor- tunity to make welfare what it was meant to be: a second chance, not a way of life." Under this measure, lifetime welfare benefits are limited to five years and able-bodied adult recipients must work air two years; block grants to states replace the federal pro- gram Aid to Families with De- pendent Children; states may give additional benefits to cover children born to women already receiving welfare; and future legal immigrants are not eligible for most federal States. Republicans said the bill would save between $50 billion and $60 billion over six years. In the July 31 statement, Bishop Skylstad thanked "the many bishops and other Catholic leaders who worked so hard for genuine reform and raised their voices against pro- posals which undermine the nation's struggle to overcome poverty." "Our efforts contributed some modest but important changes," he said. "We worked successfully to defeat the mandatory family cap, to re- tain health coverage for poor children, to require states to maintain their own efforts, and to oppose the dismantling of the federal food stamp pro- gram." Bishop Skylstad said the bishops would continue =to work at local, state and federal levels for real reform and vDn- tinue to oppose those measures which undermine the safety net, hurt families or harm chil- dren." In a statement issued Aug. 1, Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York said the current legislation, although it con- tains "much that is positive," fails the test of =creative gen- erosity" articulated by Pope John Paul .II during his U.S. visit last year. The cardinal said he still questions "the availability of jobs for all people seeking em- ployment in our economy," we.lfare benefits during their' adding that thehur jn:New : city and state officials "to do all that we can to help people move to independence and work without endangering their safety.  Cardinal O'Connor said he found it particularly distress- ing that some public office holders on both sides of the welfare reform debate approve partial-birth abortions. "Have we reached a point," he asked, where "some children are to be condemned either before or after delivery from their moth- ers' wombs?  Bishop John J. Nevins of See BISHOPS page 2