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September 13, 1996     The Message
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September 13, 1996

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13,1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 m Bishop's Forum -- Fasting and abstinence for Life The pious practice of fasting is not only to avoid the sin of killing, arise from a deep commitment of faith. We believe in an ancient one that is common to the three major religions. Our plea as Catholic bishops to the faithful to consider fasting and abstinence has a two-fold purpose. First, our community acts of fasting and abstinence are to be offered as atonement for the sin of murder both of unborn-born chil- dren and those children in the very process of being born. Second, our personal fast and abstinence can both renew and reinforce within each one of us a deep respect for human life from its very beginning to its natural end. The members ofa community can agree to fast and abstain. Hence bishops as leaders of the Catholic community are asking for participation in a common effort for a particular reason. In this case, we asked Catholics adults to fast today, Friday, Sep- tember 13, 1996. We asked all Catholics, young and old, to abstain from meat on this same Friday. In a common way, we offer to the Almighty and Merciful God our fasting and abstinence to atone for the sins of our own members and those not of our faith. In doing so, we strengthen our own personal resolve By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER but more positively to respect life in all ways. Fasting is a practice for healthy adults. It is an act that the rich and poor alike can practice in common. It has never been intended for those whose health requires otherwise. I encourage children and maturing young adults to eat only healthy foods and avoid eating between meals in atonement for the sins of others and to show respect for life. Abstinence from meat on Fri- day is something everyone in the community can do. Rich and poor, boys and girls, young men and young women, adult men and women can participate. Most of all, it is a practic e that families can adopt and exercise in their own homes every Friday. There is power in prayer. There is enormous power in pious practices when done in the family. How much more when communities of families join in!! Not only are such acts pleasing to God, they are a witness to others. Although our plea as bishops calls for this effort on a specific day for a specific purpose, we must never fast and abstain for show. What we do must the God of life. We believe that God alone is the author of all life and God alone has authority over it. Human beings, you and I, have no right to take, lessen or show disrespect for human life in any way whatever. The conscious acts of self-control as exem- plified in fast and abstinence can indeed strengthen our resolve as individuals and as families. It is my hope, as bishop of the Diocese of Evans- ville, that each of you and as families gathered around the common table, consider continuing the practice of abstaining from meat on Friday not only as a reminder that Jesus died for us all, but also as an act of atonement for our personal sins and those of others. I encourage Catholic adults to consider fasting on the First Friday of each month. The practice does not have to be complicated. Simple meals, as need- ed, with no eating between meals is true fasting. For those who cannot fast, fidelity to doctors' orders both for exercise and medicines can serve as your act of fasting. Children who cannot abstain from meat on Fri- days can certainly abstain from television for one day. Let's make our pious practices of fasting an abstinence a family affair for life. ection drive kicks off with proposals for kids, families CHICAGO (CNS) -- Presi- .nt Clinton kicked off his re- dampaign with propos- for education, middle-income d employer tax credits and for community responsibil- Election '96 Campaign Report By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service In an hour-long speech to :cept his party's nomination d close the Democratic Nation- Convention Aug. 29, Clinton osed elementary school tax credits for businesses mt hire welfare recipients and ugher laws to battle drugs, guns. The president took credit for a economy, new jobs, an minimum wage, a :iminished crime rate and a government during his years in office. Without devoting much atten- tion to Bob Dole, his opponent in the November election, Clinton suggested a Dole presidency would be a return to the past, while his own would be "a bridge to the future." Among his ideas directed at that future, Clinton proposed a nationwide effort to ensure that every eight-year-old can read, by mobilizing a volunteer army of one million tutors to help the 40 percent of illiterate third-graders catch up. "I want America to build a bridge to the 21st century in which we expand opportunity through education; where com- puters are as much a part of the classroom as blackboards, where highly trained teachers demand peak performance from our chil- dren, where every eight- year-old can point to a book and say: 'I read it myself," he said. In addition to tutors, he asked parents to lead the way toward literacy. "Every tired night you spend reading a book to your child is worth it," Clinton said. "Literacy is freedom m we must set our children free." Clinton also proposed expan- sion of individual retirement accounts and a break on capital gains taxes for middle-income home sellers. Other tax cuts or credits would be directed at help- ing pay for the first two years of college tuition and at encourag- ing businesses to hire welfare recipients. "I challenge every business per- son who has ever complained about the failure of yesterday's welfare system to try to hire someone off the welfare rolls," Clinton said. "There is no more vho's to blame' with welfare. Now it's all a question of 'what to do,' and we all have a responsibility. "Let us all pledge to build a bridge to the 21st century by end- ing the permanent underclass, and ending their isolation, their exile. They're not forgotten any- more." Clinton called for expansion of the Brady Bill to prohibit weapon sales to anyone with a record of domestic violence and to ban so- called "cop-killer" ammunition. He also urged a victims' rights constitutional amendment. Although he said crime rates nationwide have declined, Clin- ton acknowledged that drug use by young people has increased. In addition to stepped-up efforts to teach that drugs can be dead- ly, he called on Congress to approve requested funding for pursuing drug dealers. "We will say to gangs: We will break you with the same anti- racketeering law we use to put mob bosses in jail," he said. "You are not going to kill our kids anymore or turn them into mur- derers." Clinton framed the importance of community responsibility as a response to Dole's speech to the Republican National Convention two weeks earlier, in which he took a swipe at Hillary Rodham Clinton's book, "It Takes a Vil- lage." The president said he learned from his mother, a single parent for much of his childhood, that no parent can do it alone. She had the kind of help every par- ent deserves -- from neighbors, teachers, pastors, doctors and others." "Long before she ever met Hillary, she was grateful for the support that came from our vil- lage; he said. Noting that foreign policy is not a popular topic in the barber shops and cafes of America, Clin- ton said the United States nev- ertheless must continue to help the rest ofthe world be safe. ill oolmate takes candidate to task on abortion stance from page 4 To the editor:. l am responding to Jonathan letter published in 16 edition. As a congressional candidate to reconcile the Catholic Weinzapfel states that he accept(s) the Church's on abortion." The of course teaches: Human life must be respected , from the From the of his existence, a must be rcognized the rights of a person is the inviolable right of to life.  (Cat- sm of the Catholic Church) abortion equals tour- So far, so good. Weinzapfel then the Church "... does not one specific political . " He proceeds, beautiful convolutions of and reasoning, to say to keep abortion So, he's somehow both pro- life and pro-choice (anti-right to life). Actually, Weinzapfel is wrong the Church does advocate a political approach. As a candidate for office, he needs to go back and review the Church's teaching on abortion, especially the section of the Catechism discussing legisla- tive responsibility. An excerpt: "The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation: he inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.... The moment a pos- itive law deprives a category of human.beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined .... " (Emphasis added by Catechism, not me.) This says very plainly to me that the Church expects a nation and its political authority to reflect each human's right to life in its most basic, "constitutive" levels of law. Sounds like a con- stitutional amendment, a right to life, is exactly what the Church would prescribe. , Weinzapfel, however, thor- oughly rejects this solution. His weak reasons include difficult enforcement resulting only in dis- respect for the law and ongoing abortions. "It simply wouldn't work". He even insinuates that an amendment would cause peo- ple to ignore the problem of unwanted pregnancies, a totally groundless connection. To see how misguided this rea- soning is, let's substitute the social ills of murder, theR, drugs, drunk driving, prostitution, you name it. All of these are prohibit- ed by law, yet they continue and are hard to control. Using Wein- zapfel logic, we should legalize them all because our laws are being disrespecteei and haven't efficiently erased the problems. Maybe it's all worse because we have the laws to soothe our con- sciences. But we can, can we? As a nation we cannot sanction evil simply because it is hard to erad- icate. Our laws represent us, making us morally culpable for what we allow and disallow. Mr. Weinzapfel, being a leader is tough and most decisions carry undesirable side-effects. But lead- ers must first and foremost stand for what is right, despite the con- sequences. Consider Abraham Lincoln. What if he had said, "Gosh, we can't outlaw slavery. The southern states won't go for it. There will probably be blood- shed, maybe even a civil war. Peo- ple might ignore how badly the black people would still be treat- ed. It simply won't work. Let's just create some awareness pro- grams, provide some funding and legislate better treatment of slaves." Today we see the truth about slavery and thank Lincoln for giving his life for what was righ I applaud Weinzapfers sugges- tions for reducing abortions: they are all very good and important. But .why protect the abortion industry in the meantime? Why can't we work at the problem from both sides? If you truly believe it is murder, you would feel the urgency. What I say to Mr. Weinzapfel, and to all Catholics, is that you cannot support legal abortions and be a true and faithful Catholic. Period. You can be raised Catholic, ou can have a Catholic last name, you can admire the pope and Mother Theresa, but you cannot say you openly accept the Church's teach. ings. And Jonathan, although I am a fellow graduate who knows you from Memorial, I couldn't vote for you ifEvansville was still my home town. Because I think all Catholics are morally obligat- ed not to vote for anyone who sup ports abortion in any way. Michelle Porter Polk City, Iowa