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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
August 28, 1992     The Message
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August 28, 1992

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Perspective August 28, 1992 By PAUL R. LEINGANG The rain poured down on us as we drove south toward Evansville. A car in front of us pulled over to the shoulder. Another turned into a fast food store parking lot, where its occupants might perhaps wait out the storm. We continued. The truck ahead of us was hard to see. We ap- proached it, slowed, and adjusted our speed to match the truck. It gave us some sense of stability in the middle of the storm. Wind and rain kept us from seeing much of what was along side the highway. What we could see was ahead of us, and as the truck continued to move through the heavy rain, so did we. We felt a certain sense of safety, following that truck. I wonder if the truck driver could see ahead into the darkening sky filled with heavy rain. Per- haps the driver was following another vehicle at a reasonable distance -- close enough to see the lights on the rear of the car or truck, far enough Following the light: Witnessing our faith back to be able to stop i n time, if stopping be- came a necessity. I wonder if the drivers in front of the truck driver were following another vehicle, and an- other and another -- each of them staying back just far enough to feel safe, but staying close enough to be guided by the moving lights into the rain. Behind us were the lights of another vehicle -- not too close, not too far. Perhaps there was another car behind the car behind us. How far did our procession of faith con- tinue? How far did it stretch into the future? Into the past? Somewhere, a driver was out of the rain, moving forward with confidence into the clear light of day on the other side of the clouds. Rain storms do not last forever. Somewhere behind us, a driver was entering a time of darkness, guided by the lights on the rear of the car ahead. We were all going the same way, but each of us was somehow alone. We were in our car. Others were in theirs. Each of us was free to fol- low the witness of the one who had gone ahead -- or to pull off the road to the security of the side. Was it confidence -- or foolishness -- to continue? My parents have gone into the darkness of uncertainty. I follow the light that still shines -- the witness of their journey of faith. They followed others -- others I have never seen, but I know they must have been there to lead and guide. How long is our procession? Will those who come after us be guided by our confident journey? Or will they chose to pull to the side, hoping the darkness wil.1 diminish? Washington Letter Politics of relief: I00ose disaster rates a response, first? By PATRICIA ZAPOR The United Nations and the ical juncture, he said. suit Father Drew Chris- of strategic interests," said Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the last month the eyes of the world have widened in hor- ..... for at "new" atrocities com- ing to light in places barely on the map a few years before While graphic pictures of mass starvation in Somalia and of abused prisoners at concentration camps in what used to be Yugoslavia are jerking the rest of the world into action this summer, both situations might have been avoided if alarm bells ringing more than a year ago had been heeded. Timing, military strategy and worldwide exhaustion with disasters are blamed in part for inaction by the United States and other na- tions. But politics, plain and simple, is the principal cul- prit behind delay, according to several observers. Since spring of 1991, fac- tions within the former Yu- goslavia have been systemati- cally clearing entire regions of people whose only crime is that they are in the wrong ethnic group. The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Publishsr .............. Bishop Gerald A, Gstlol|ingor Associate Publisher ............... Rev. Joseph Ziliak Editor ............................................ Paul Leingang Production Manager ........................... Phil Boger Circulation .................................... Susan Winiger Advertising .................................... Paul Newland Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $12.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2rid class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication Copyright 1992 Catholic Press of Evansville governments of Europe and the United States watched warily for most of that time, occasionally voicing concern and issuing mild warnings to the warring Serbs, Croats and Bosnians. But ultimately they sat back, waiting for the com- batants to wear themselves down. At almost exactly the same time the Serbs and Croats began extensive fighting, a coalition of relief agencies warned of a war-induced famine-in-the-making in So- malia that put the entire East African country at risk. "There's not mass starva- tion yet, but unless some- thing is done now to get food, not just to the most vulnera- ble but to everyone, everyone may die," said Hiram Ruiz, policy analyst for the U.S. Committee for Refugees at a May 1991 press conference called by Bread for the World and other relief agencies. Yet 15 months later, pic- tures of emaciated children in Somalia and tortured prison- ers in Bosnia-Herzegovina are just beginning to shock the world into launching major efforts at relief and intervention. As of mid-August, between 8,000 and 35,000 people had been killed in Bosnia, while as many as 2.5 million were refugees, evicted from their homes and villages in a Ser- bian drive to create an ethni- cally pure nation. In Somalia, tens of thousands, if not hun- dreds of thousands have died and the United Nations con- siders another 1.5 million people at risk of imminent starvation. Late last year the Interna- ,tional Red Cross tried to warn fhaLSomalia was on the brink of disaster, explained Peter Shiras, senior director for the African region for Catholic Relief Services. But because of security problems, even the United Nations relief or- ganization pullec out of So- malia last November at a crit- "Back at the beginning of this year, the Red Cross was crying out in the wilderness to get attention to Somalia," Shiras said. For a variety of reasons including the diffi- culty of working in the battle conditions, even CRS had not been active in Somalia for about 10 years until early in 1992. After the Ethiopian famine of the early 1980s, relief agen- cies developed an early warn- ing system to forecast poten- tial repeats of the disaster. The syste3n has helped avoid wide-scale starvation in Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya, countries that neighbor So- malia and are affected by the same current drought, accord- ing to Shiras. The difference in Somalia is that combatants in a civil war have used food as a weapon, cutting off routes and holding back supplies. The fact that "Somalis have not endeared themselves to their neighbors" because of a history of grabbing at other countries' territory didn't help, Shiras said. Nor did the world's changing political climate. While in the past the United States attached strate- gic importance to all of Africa, the fading of commu- nism had reduced U.S. inter- est in keeping a foothold there, Shiras said. Not until U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros- Ghali caught up with the worsening famine and all but accused the world's leaders of racism in their differing at- titudes ,toward 'helping Africans and Europeans did attention focus on Somalia. Meanwhi:le, in the re- publics that once made up Yugoslavia, village after vil- lage was flattened, civilians killed or evicted and thou- sands rounded up in bleak concentration camps. "People felt it was an eth- nic rivalry thing that out- siders couldn't help," said Je- tiansen, director of the Inter- national Justice and Peace of- fice of the U.S. Catholic Conference. Particularly when Croats and Serbs were the main protagonists, every report of a flattened Croatian village could be followed with news of a Serb neighbOr- hood being cleared out. European leaders struggling to unify for economic pur- poses were reluctant to be dragged into what looked like a battle with no clear villain and no clear victim. "The press was immobi- lized" by claims and counter- claims that they presented side by side in an effort to balance news reports, said Father Christiansen. "The public had difficulty sorting it out." So did the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. govern- ment. Only when the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees began reporting on the hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Bosnia-Herzegovina did Ser- bia's role as principal aggres- sor become clear, he explained. "People who run govern- ments tend to think in terms Father Christiansen, who vis- ited Croatia and Slovenia in mid-July. After the Persian Gulf War, there was a preoC" cupation with staying out of any dispute that did not as- sure a quick victory. With the huge stockpiles of weapons accumulated by Yugoslavia during the Cold War, Serbia is equipped for a long-term guerrilla war. The belief that "the Ameri" cans and other democratic peoples are not going to ac- cept a long, costly war," dom- inated discussions of step" ping in with a military force to push back the Serbs, Fa- ther Christiansen believeS. But both Father chriS" tiansen and Shiras acknoVJ edge that part of the reaSOn for delays in helping in So" malta or Bosnia may be no more diabolical than world" wide exhaustion with disaS" ters. Earthquakes, volcani. I eruptions, hurricanes, ciVJ wars, famines and other dis" asters have followed one after another, demanding large i scale responses from relie agencies and accompanying financial support from the public. Bishop's schedule The following activities and events are listed on the schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger