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September 13, 1996     The Message
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September 13, 1996

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestero Indiana September --Taking the time to make a difference-- You want, me to think about that now? The hardware and home sup- ply store was a little more clut- tered and crowded than usual, when [ went there a few days before Labor Day. The crowds were there to pick up various items for use around the home on the long weekend. The clutter came from the i : introduction of some new seasonal merchandise -- Christmas items. I was thinking the usual kind of derogatory thoughts about the rush to capitalize on the "Holiday" season as it is known -- until I took a careful look at an item I had received in the mail some time ago. That item included a suggestion -- startling at first -- to celebrate "Let's Talk About Christmas/Day" on Oct. 1. Having already seen some lights and deco- rations, I was ready to read about the suggestion. "Christmas time is a time when so many peo- ples' brains seem to get disconnected," said Gerald Iversen, natiQnal coordinator of an organization known as Alternatives for Simple Living. "For whatever reason -- habit, family pres- sure, guilt about being a bad dad, whatever -- peo- ple put themselves through incredible stress and end up in big debt," !versen said. So his suggestion is to pick a date, Oct. 1 is his By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR choice, to observe Let's Talk About Christmas! Day. "Instead of assuming that everything will be just the same this year and that everybody will be happy about it, talk to those who will be involved. Instead of gritting your teeth when you seen Christ- mas decorations going up before Halloween, sit down with your fam- ily, contact your relatives and friends -- those you normally cele- brate with -- and talk." Iversen believes you will dis- cover that maybe Morn or whoever it is who usually does most of the work is not really thrilled about what she is expect- ed to do. Maybe she wants help, he suggests  or if nobody wants to help, maybe your family ought to consider doing something different. You may also find, he believes, that some mem- bers of the family or the group may want to do something different this year, but they have just been afraid to rock the boat by breaking with your established tradition. Alternatives for Simple Living is an ecumeni- cal, non-profit organization that "equips PeOple of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly, and'cel- ebrate responsibly," according to Iversen. Publica- tions distributed by the organization include the popular booklet, Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? That booklet advocates doing something different this year: instead of "scurrying, shopping, worry- ing," try "waiting, preparing, anticipating, receiving, living, sharing." Take the time today to answer these for yourself, and encourage others in your family circle of friends to' answer them, too. How are we going to celebrate Christmas year? * What is really most meaningful? Who's going to do what? Are we willing to spend less oil ourselves an( help the truly needy'? Iversen suggests that you write down the answers to such questions, and then post them for the benefit of the others who will be celebrating with you. Schedule a day to talk, and then make plans outside the usual pressures and stresses in the weeks before Christmas. If you need some help, contact Alternatives for Simple Living, P.O. Box 2857, Sioux City, Iowa 51106. E-mail: or telephone (712} 274-8875. Comments about this column are' welcome at or the Christian Family P.O. Box272, Ames, Iowa 50010. ,, Washington Letter Congress, not courts, seen as venue to stop assisted suici By MARK PATTISON Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- If Congress rather than the courts is the proper place to deal with assisted suicide, as speakers asserted at a Sept. 4 fortim in Washington on the topic, then what Sen. John A.shcroft, R-Mo., has planned would dovetail nicely. Ashcroff was lining up co-spon- sors to a bill he plans to introduce that would ban Medicare or Med- icaid payments for assisted sui- cides. It is patterned after the Hyde Amendment, which forbids using federal funds for most abor- tions. The bill would rebut the con- tention in a recent federal court decision that it is unjust to deny Medicare or Medicaid payments for assisted suicide. Based on the experiences in U.S. and Dutch courts, lawmak- ers are more likely to come closer to the needs of the American peo- ple than the courts on the issue, according to Robert Destro, a law professor at The Catholic Uni- versity of America, Washington. In rulings that have thrown The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Posher ............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Edit ...................................... Paul R. Leingang P T ........... :...Joseph Dietrich Staff Writer ............................ Mary Ann Hughes Address aft communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as periodical matter at the post office in Evansville, tN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800, Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office ot public,tion H out statewide bans on assisted suicide, the courts have focused on compassion, Destro said. "Compassion is important," he added, but not the only ingre- dientto be considered in mak- ing law. Others, he said, would include justice, mercy, honesty and solidarity. Courts "gave us 'all deliberate speed,' 'separate but equal' and Dred Scott," all of which limited the civil rights of American blacks. Still, it is the court system that has given guidance on the issue. The Supreme Court in June let Washington state's ban on assisted suicide stand when it said it would consider the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in March throwing out the ban. Destro said-Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy would be the most like- ly swing votes on such a decision, and that John Paul Stevens would be the only justice likely to be firmly in agreement with the circuit court. Justices Ruth Bader Gins- burg and Stephen Breyer are "wild cards" on the court, as is David Souter, whom Destro said would "base his conclusion on what the AMA says." Dr. Thomas Reardon, chair- man of the American Medical Association's task force on qual- ity care at the end of life, said after the 9th Circuit decision that if physicians and patients were better, educated on pain management, hospice, counsel- ing and advanced care planning, "there would be virtually no need to resort to physician- assisted suicide." When the Netherlands insti- tuted the practice of physician- assisted suicide, it was believed by some that the United States could look to the Dutch as model, at least implicitly, because of its liberal society and a shared national affinity for self- deter- mination. But 23 years of experie should cause many doubt, according to Dr. Gomez, an assistant medicine at the Univers Virginia School of Mediq "The Dutch don't formi have a law legalizing euth sia." The practices that h developed have done so court decisions. The first D assisted'suicide in 1973 found to have been a Dutch prosecutors, hut declined to prosecute, "purity of motive' of a dau heeding her terminally mother's pleas to kill her. Letters to the editor Why does Weinzapfel support something he disagrees To the Editor: .... there is a widespread, honest ]is campaign coordinator for tributed to the situation. In a recent letter to the Mes- sage, congressional candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel criticized a constitutional amendment to protect the unborn and stated "the Catholic Church does not advocate a specific political approach to the abortion crisis." Does Mr. Weinzapfel realize the Catholic Church's strong support of the very amendment he reject- ed.? In fact The Committee forA Human Life Amendment is funded by the US Catholic Bish- ops to educate and promote this amendment. Weinzapfel states his concern that the legal prohi- bition of all abortions wouldn'ti solve the problem, as abortions would still occur. I doubt he would dare extend this mentali- ty to other issues such as mur- der, rape or child abuse. Legal prohibition of these acts have not stopped them yet no one dares to challenge the validity of those laws. If something is morally wrong we as a nation must stand up i1 defense of.the victims.. : Ina letter to Vanderburgh CO, Etight to:Life;,Wei z ap fei sta.ted, disagreement among the Amer- ican population as to the point at which an embryo, zygote or fetus actually becomes a human being." Honest disagreement? It is a medically proven fact that life begins at conception. Even abortionists publicly acknowl- edge this truth. In the same let- ter he further states "Although [ may disagree with their choice and find it regrettable, I also accept their right to make that decision." But I must ask Wein- zapfel to remember the human rights of the defenseless child, And, WHY is he supporting something he disagrees with. I am also quite concerned about the following situations. #1 The U.S. Congress's most outspoken abortion supporter, Congresswoman Pat Schroeder was the guest speaker in June at a Bloomington fund raiser in Weinzapfel's honor. #2 He has appointed Charlotte Zietlow, for- mer paid executive director of Monroe ounty Planned Par- enthood, operator of the state's most. ctive abortion, clinic, as that area. Planned Parenthood is by far the nation's leading abortionist, profiting off women in crisis situations. (As a Catholic, Weinzapfel should be aware that the Church recog- nizes women are also victims of the abortion process and offers healing through programs such as our diocese's own Project Rachel Post-Abortion Program.) If Jonathan Weinzaplbl won- ders about what he calls "the erroneous in|brmation about my views and beliefs" a closer look may indicate that he has con- may then understand the tration on the part of pro-Ill who have closely followed  past statements and believe Mr. Weinzapfel lack of ability to solid position and this issue. One must also der if he has the understanding to evaluate other im that will affect the citizens of! Eighth District. Deanna See LETTERS Bishop's schedu The following activities and events are listed on the ule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: West Deanery Youth Mass, Resurrection Church Evansville, Sunday, Sept. 15, 6 p.m .... Priests' Retreat, Sarto Retreat House, Evansville Sept, 16.I9. Finance Council Meeting, Wednesday, Sept. 18,