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Evansville, Indiana
August 12, 1988     The Message
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August 12, 1988
 

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4 Editorial I The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana August 12, 1988 By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor It is early evening, in the office. The room is empty. Outside the office, the hallway is quiet and calm. The blinds on the window have been raised, halfway to the ceiling. Outside the window, the parking lot is a pat- tern of white painted lines on empty blackness. The grassy fields beyond the blacktop are oc- cupied only by bushes and trees casting longer shadows. Darkness is approaching. On a desk near mine, in front of the window, is a small stack of paper. It is, in fact, a collection of recent bulletins from parishes in the diocese, sent in to help us stay in touch with people in the parish, their activities and events. The bulletin on top of the stack does not lie flat. The folds which were made to fit it into an envelope have not been forgiven. Creases remain. The bulletin is moving. I look away from the stack of paper on the desk near my desk. I'look toward the door, the hallway, the rest of the office; then I look back. The bulletin is moving. The still of the evening shows God's presence Half of the bulletin is slowly rising and fall- ing. Balanced on the center crease, the paper flut- ters gently. From somewhere, an invisible and unfelt cur- rent of air is moving the paper, gently, quietly. The prophet who went up the mountain, and found God not in the thunder or the wind or the lightning, but in the gentle breeze -- such a pro- phet would have appreciated the beauty of the situation. No doubt about it, God is found in the pouring rain. No doubt about it, power and strength are his attributes. But so is gentleness. So often we associate power with loudness -- the car next to yours at the stop light with an engine worthy of running in Thunder on the Ohio. Power is the enhanced and processed radio voice that urges you to crank up the volume and rip the knobs off. Power is the four inch tabloid headline screaming news about Elvis, UFOs, Hollywood stars and two headed beasts. Power is the hard sell commercial for nitro powered funny car drag races and travelers' checks. Power is measured in megatons. No doubt about it, power means the ability to destroy, and God has such power. Destruction is loud. Creation is quiet. Where is the measure of creative power? The regular breathing of a baby asleep is greater witness to God's power than the mushroom blast of death. Soft words of affection speak with greater force than the shout of a centerfold. The distant voice of the turtledoves brings greater security than the thunder of marching boots,, in the street. The word of God shared at liturgy com- municates a greater meaning than all the words transmitted via satellite or fiber-optics. Power is the presence of God in each other. It is evening, in the office. Outside the office, the hallway is quiet and calm. Darkness has closed off the window view of parking lot and grassy field. A piece of paper flutters on a desk. It is a sign of gentleness, a symbol of a quiet presence. The room is not empty. Washington Letter Housing, plant closings w'cton'es: effort pays off By LIZ SCH VTCHUK NC News Service WASHINGTON (NC} -- August got off to a great start for social justice advocates at the U.S. Catholic Conference and Catholic Charities USA when victories with plant closing and fair housing legislation capped years of hard work. "It was a good day," said lohn L. Cart, USCC secretary for social development and world peace, savoring the success. The Senate 94-3 vote approv- ing the Fair Housing Anend- ments followed a/une House of Representatives vote of 376-23 on a nearly identical measure. The same day as the housing victory, President Reagan an- nounced he would not veto plant closing legislation, which took effect at midnight Aug. 3. When fully phased in, it will re- quire corporate bosses to notify workers before closing plants or laying off employees -- a "basic" economic right long advocated by the church. The housing bill is expected T00oMESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly exoept last week In December by the Catholic Preu of Evanavi#e. Publisher ........ Bishop Francis R. Shea AINlOelltto Publisher .... Rev. Joleph Zllklk Editor .................. Paul Lelflgang CIrullttlon Mgr.... Mm. Roee MontrMteae Pmductlo Mgr ................ Phil Beget Advertkdng Mgr ............... Dan Hetty Addru= all oommunlcatlona to P.O. Box 41(W, EvanSville, IN 47711. Phone (812) 424-6530. 8ubecrlptlon rate: $15 per year Entered u 2nd blmm rnatter  the post of- rice In Evlmm/liis, IN 47701. Publlejdi(n number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to the Offloe of Publication. Copyright Im C=thol PrUl 0fEvermvllis to receive its finishing touches soon from a House-Senate con- ference committee (which must reconcile minor differences) before Reagan, who supports the legislation, officially signs it into law. The measure allows tough enfomement of federal laws prohibiting discrimination and shores up the 1968 Fair Hous- ing Act, which outlawed discrimination but failed to pro- vide any substantive federal clout for redressing wrongs. Along with prohibiting racial or other more traditional forms of discrimination, the legisla- tion also forbids acts of bias against the handicapped, families with children and pregnant women seeking hous- ing opportunities. As it turned out, the same day that the housing anti- discrimination bill passed, a federal judge fined the city of Yonkers, N.Y., which is 24 per- cent black or Hispanic, for refusing to obey a 1985 order to integrate its housing and pro- vide low-cost houses in white neighborhoods. The court, in 1985, had found the city discouraged non-whites from living in white neighborhoods and promoted segregation in education as well. The fight over fair housing goes back decades. "We promised equal housing opportunity for all in 1968, and two decades of delay are long enough," Sen, Edward M. Ken- nedy, D-Mass., said in urging support fair housing by the cur- rent Congress. "Housing is probably the most critical area in race rela- tions today," said Sulpician Father John F. Cronin, in 1966, when he was assistant director of the social action department at the National Catholic Welfare Conference, predecessor of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and its public policy twin, the USCC. Members of a community "generally support voting rights ... and also equal job and educational opportunity," Father Cronin said. "But there are many foot-draggers in the area of housing and quite a few adamantly opposed to fair housing." Middle-class blacks often were denied decent housing in white neighborhoods and whites who usually favored public housing for the disad- vantaged "resist any such pro- grams which would be located outside of the so-called urban ghetto," Father Cronin said. In 1979, Bishop Thomas C. Kelly, then USCC general secretary and now archbishop of Louisville, Ky., told Presi- dent Jimmy Carter's administra- tion that "we condemn discrimination in the housing market against minorities, women and the handicapped and we agree that the federal government should have effec- tive authority to deal with it." Since then, the housing issue has never gone away. In a state- ment issued this past spring, the USCC administrative board, composed of bishops, again pleaded for "stronger efforts to combat discrimination in hous- ing against racial and ethnic minorities, women, those with handicapping conditions, and families with children." But the success of the fair housing bill furthers that goal, Carr noted. Getting a plant closing law took years as well. As finally enacted, the measure demands -- among other stipulations -- that cor- porate employers notify each employee as well as local governments in writing before closing factories or other facilities that employ 100 or more full-time workers. "We were delighted that finally the president saw the light" and decided to let the bill become law, a step which the White House earlier had op- posed, said Mathew H. Ahmann, associate director for governmental relations at Catholic Charities USA. "It's long overdue," he said of the new law. "What it establishes in principle is the basic right of American workel's I to be notified of economic deci- sions that affect their lives. That's a fundamental economic right." The bishops' 1986 pastoral letter on economic justice con- curs. "As a minimum," the bishops Wrote, "workers have a right to be informed in advance ... a right to negotiate with management about possible alternatives and a right to fair compensation and assistance with retraining and relocation expenses should these be necessary. ' ' Ahmann added that the vic- tories of early August don't mean the social justice agenda in the 100th Congress is finish- ed. "There's a lot on, the schedule to come yet," he said Aug. 3. "It's been a very busy year." If you're a subscriber who's moving, print your new address below (include your new parish, if applicable). Attach" the label with your old address from your most recent issue of the Message in the space provided and mail us this coupon. NAME ADDRESS CITY STATE ZIP (affix old label here) The Message P.O. Box 4169 IN 47711