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September 6, 1996     The Message
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September 6, 1996

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MESSAGE 6 years of serving Catholics of southwestern Indaana VOLUME 27 NUMBER 1 September 6, 1996 WEST DEANERY EAST DEANERY II I Bishops call for Sept. 13 day of pro-life prayer, fasting By Message staff, Catholic News Service Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger is inviting "Catholic families throughout the Diocese of Evansville to observe Friday, Sept. 13, as a day of affirming the gift of human life." Bishop Gettelfinger's invitation is part of a nation-wide effort en- couraging such an observance from the U.S. bishops' Commit- tee for Pro-Life Activities. Cardinal Bernard F. Law, committee chairman, urged dio- ceses to mark the day "as a day of prayer, fast, abstinence and other penance" for the intention of overcoming "the culture of death, particularly with regard to partial-birth abortion and physician-assisted suicide." Bishop Gettelfinger said that one of his first acts as bishop was to call for Catholics in the Diocese of Evansville to return to the traditional practice of ab- staining from meat on Friday. He said the long-standing prac- tice of abstinence was intended to be helpful, "as a reminder of the reverence Catholics have for Friday as the day Christ died, and also as a time of atonement for our own sins and the sins of others." He said that the traditional Friday abstinence on Sept: 13 will taken on new significance, as Catholics throughout the United States work and pray to put an end to partial birth abor- tion. The U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities will lead an ecumenical prayer vigil at the U:S. Capitol Sept. 12 as part of a relentless "struggle for life," according to Cardianl Law, "It is imperative that we do all within our power to ensure a congressional override of the presidential veto of the Partial- Birth Abortion Ban Act," said Boston Cardinal Bernard F. Law, chairman of the pro-life committee, in an Aug. 23 letter to bishops nationwide. President Clinton vetoed the bill April 10. Override votes in the House and Senate are ex- pected to occur after Sept. 15. The committee enclosed with the letter recent comments by former Surgeon General C. Ev- erett Keep "that partial-birth abortions are not medically necessary," along with the re- sults of two polls indicating that support is growing among Americans for a ban on the pro- cedure. "The struggle for life, in which we are engaged, is relentless," Cardinal Law said. The com- mittee will report more fully to the bishops at their November meeting, he added, but for now, "we beg your wholehearted co- operation as we seek to bring focus to our pro-life efforts." The Sept. 12 prayer service, which is open to everyone, is the latest in a series of actions by the bishops to fight partial-birth abortions. In April, the eight ac- tive U.S. cardinals, all members cardinal Bernardin answers critics on dialogue plan Contributing to this story were tion to dissent or compromise expected criticisms "from some -- "Second, tha it places dis- Bill Britt in Chicago and Jerry with the truth, groups on the right or left" who sent on the same level as truth Filteau in Washington. judge everything in terms of their own agenda. "More troubling," he said, "is the criticism that mixes ar- guable points with what I be- lieve are grave misunderstand- ings." He expressed concern that "even a carefully framed appeal for dialogue coming from an archbishop and seconded by a broad range of distinguished ad- visers was met with immediate suspicion." To some extent the criticisms themselves "confirm the need for this initiative," he said. He singled out =three major criticisms" that.he regarded as seriously misinterpreting 2alled to be Catholic': -- "First, that it does not ad- equately acknowledge Scripture and tradition as the actual com- mon ground of the Catholic Church and reduces the magis- terium to just one more voice in and seems ready to accept com- protnise of the truth. -- "Third, that it insuffi- ciently acknowledges the cen- trality of Jesus." He did not name the sources of those criticisms. Among those who had raised questions about the initiative were Cardinals James A. Hickey of Washington and Bernard F. Law of Boston. "My response to the first criti- cism is that Scripture and tradi- tion are the foundational sources of church teaching and, there- fore, the basis for the 'common ground," Cardinal Bernardin said. The primacy of Scripture and tradition is fully recognized in the statement. The statement also clearly calls for accountabil- ity to the Catholic tradition and rejects any approach that would ignore the'living magisterium of the church exercised by the bish- ops and the chair of Peter." With regard to dissent, he . a.ehor!m.  of. debate ................  .Se.A/}/a 2 In a 10-page written state- ment on the wide reactions to his Catholic Common Ground Project and its framework, state- ment, "Called to Be Catholic," the cardinal said that when he unveiled the project Aug. 12 he CHICAGO (CNS) -- Answer- ing his critics, Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago said Aug. 29 that his call for dialogue in the church was not an invita- Deacons give sermons. Will a PLC be allowed to give ser- mons? -- from a letter to the Message. Only an ordained cleric may preach a homily at Mass, ac- to Father William Deering, diocesan director ofwor- }. A Pastoral Life Coordinator who is not ordained, or an- other non-ordained person, may be invited to give a "re- flection" on the Sunday scriptures. A deacon is an ordained cleric who can proclaim the preach the homily, assist the.priest at Mass, ad- Baptism, preside over certain services and act as i the Official witness at weddings. of the pro-life committee, and Cleveland Bishop Anthony M. Pills, president of the bishops' twin conferences, took the un- precedented action of sending Clinton a letter protesting the veto. During June, Catholics began to flood Congress and the White He.use with postcards as part of a nationwide campaign to over- ride the veto. In the Diocese of Evansville, parish pr0-1ife representatives coordinated parish efforts to send post cards to Indiana senators and congressional representa- tives. Kristel Riffert, parish and community services coordinator at the diocesan Catholic Chari- ties office, said she plans to re- port on the success of the "Pro- ject Life" postcard campaign, at a meeting of parish pro-life repre- sentatives. That meeting is scheuduled at the St. Benedict Parish Center, Evansville, on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. "When we did the postcard campaign, I was truly impressed with the pro-life representatives at the parishes,  Riffert said. She described the representa- tives as =positive, warm, caring, concerned people who want to spread the importance of the meaning of respecting life." Riffert said certificates of .gratitude will be presented to the representatives at the meet- ing. Benedictine Father Gregory Chamberlin, St. Benedict pas- tor, will give them a special blessing. Riffert said she wants parish representatives to know that their ministry of encouraging life-affirming activiities in the parishes is appreciated.