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September 26, 1997     The Message
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September 26, 1997

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September 26, 1997 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Nothing sacred? Anyone scared? By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER Last week I wrote on a very sacred topic. I wrote about priesthood as a sacrament of service. This week tele- vision provides me with a follow up. Do you watch television? Did you see "Nothing Sacred?" Were you scared that someone was trivializing priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church? Notice that by switching two letters in the word "sacred" we can arrive at "scared." The sacred nature of priesthood cannot be blem- ished; its sacredness does not allow for it. Priesthood remains sacred no matter what anyone chooses to do with it or how some choose to portray it. Is Jesus less sacred because he was mutilated and killed on the executioners tool of the cross, "Roman" style? Is Jesus less sacred because someone recently depicted him in "art" as a cannibal? Of course not! Being scared, on the other hand, is a passive response to a real or perceived attack. The active pas- sion is anger. Anger is a very good response when it evokes the energy necessary to protect oneself from real danger, l't is less helpful when it calls for action when the danger is only a perception built on insecu- rity. Priesthood is sacred! No one can destroy its sacredness. No, not even priests themselves. Priests, even apostles, have failed. Judas and Peter are classic examples of priestly failure, yet the sacred nature of priesthood is not diminished. For those of you who were upset by the latest pilot program on commercial television about the priesthood, I urge you to relax. When the occasion arises, take advantage of this opportunity to teach others the truth about the priesthood. There are enough errors in the television production to give you many such opportunities for a long time. Use them. There is a very old adage: "When life deals you lemons, make lemonade!" The pilot program is far from a lemon, however. In my opinion, we have an unprecedented oppor- tunity to make much more of "Nothing Sacred" than the authors and producers ever thought possible. Of course, it was never intended by them to be a teach- ing tool anyway. We can use it to correct the errors in it and discuss manv false perceptions about priest- hood and acknowledge the accurate ones. We can cel- ebrate the sacredness of the priesthood -- and, in a very, compassionate way, walk with the verv human young pastor, Father Ray. In the portrayal of Roman Catholic priesthood as seen in the pilot program of "Nothing Sacred" there is a haunting depiction of reality. I have been a priest for 36 years, eight of them as a bishop. The fictitious priest, Father Ray, does not present to me an inau- thentic view of the struggles of Roman Catholic priests to'day. Our priests are wonderful, but they are human. They can, at times, become quite frustrated with their own circumstances, and weaknesses of their own human nature as well as those in others. The priesthood is no less sacred because of their fail- ures or foibles. Sacredness of priesthood must be taught to chil- dren. Priests and parents do that. : .: Sacredness of priesthood and sacredness of mar- riage cannot be diminished by human failure. We can be less by allowing ourselves to be scared and not keeping our focus on the sacred. Don't be scared to watch this show about the sacred. Campus Ministry develops leaders for the future I was following a car last week with a bumper sticker that read, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way!" As hard as that may sound to the ears, it does carry some truth and some good advice. In this last article in our seven-part series, we will look at the truth within that state- ment as we take up the sixth aspect of campus ministry: forming leaders for the future. COMMENTARY By JOE COOK Campus Minister, University of Evansville There are a large number of Catholics attending college these days. Many of today's students involved in higher education will become tomor- row's leaders in both society and the Church. As we head into the third Christian millen- nium the Church finds herself, perhaps more than ever, in need of good lay, ordained, and reli- gious leaders. Campus minis- ters attempt to assist the college student develop his gifts of leadership and discern his Vocation in the Church. The Scriptures present a dis- tinctive understanding of lead- ership. From Matthew 5:14-19, we see that all disciples of Jesus carry the responsibility of offering personal witness in order to make a difference in the World and to use their Continued from page 4 : :he and Father Kemp run they make clear that "a sermon is only the beginning. It does not solve the complex issues." The next step, he said, is to  Lr tg PeP together to di'uss issues m their own parish- es need-to be addressed from the perspective of social justice as Jesus taught it, examining "what resources do we have? What, in concrete, are we going to do?" influence to bring others to God. This type of leadership must be carried out according to each individual's talents. In the Christian community, gen- uine leadership is based not on coercive power or high status, but on loving service that leads to the empowerment of others (Mark 10:42-45). Gifts and tal- ents are not given for personal advantage, but for the good of society and the Church. Effective leadership in the contemporary world is con- nected both with a sense of !ov- ing service and with a more mature development in self- knowledge. The Church and society both hunger for leader- ship that is founded on these two principles. Most young adults are still forming their self-identity during the college years. Here we can understand the wisdom of "follow" as a means to developing leader- ship. As the young adult works toward a mature self-identity, he learns who he is by listening to and following the direction of others. Society's many voic- es clamor for attention, desiring the discipleship that a Christian owes only to Christ. Through the many voices, campus min- istry works to continually pro- claim our need to follow the only real "way, truth, and life" which is Jesus. By following the Good Shepherd, we learn the ways of gentleness, compassion and loving service that befit Christian leadership. We also must learn to "get out of the way." Too often leaders try to lead without prayer and dis- cernment. Or leaders take them- selves too seriously and forget that Christ is" the real leader. Or leaders stifle the creativity of their followers by demanding their own way, or their own solu- tions to problems. Campus min- istry attempts to teach the young adult that good leadership some- times requires that we get out of the way. Through various retreats, prayer, study of scrip- ture and good example, campus ministers help students to leave behind all the voices of society and get out of the way for a while. There, they can listen to the voice of Jesus as he speaks to them in word and sacrament. There, they can refocus their work, study, and recreation as to how it all builds up the Body of Christ. 13oth following and getting out of the way are meant to develop mature Christian lead- ers. The college student is still called to employ her gifts in areas that call for her leadership. That might come as the pres- ident of a student organization, or team leader of a class project. Leadership could be required by being a representative to stu- dent government, or by work- ing for a faculty member or a particular department within the universitv. Within any form where it appears in the college arena, leadership is facilitated and developed through campus ministry. At both the Universitv of Southern Indiana and the Uni- versity of Evansville, students take leadership roles within the liturgy. Students serve as ministers of hospitality, as lec- tors and Eucharistic ministers, as servers and ushers. Students also fill the role of peer minis- ters in giving their time and counsel to other students. Students are put in charge of the various asts.of'alpus ministry including planning and organizing service pro- : jects, retreats, and social gath- erings. Those same students take what they learn and develop in their leadership within campus ministry into the rest of the campus. With a sense of a more mature self- knowledge and loving service, they are better prepared to be leaders in all areas of their lives. Perhaps the better bumper sticker for the adult Christian should read, "Lead, follow, and get out of the way!" 'Nothing Sacred' drama draws few positive remarks, more attacks WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Positive reaction by Catholic leaders to the debut episode of ABC's "Nothing Sacred" was muted at best, while attacks continued against the network for airing the drama as well as for the network's ownership by the Walt Disney Co. Ratings for the Sept. 18 debut of "Nothing Sacred," which on the young pastor of an urban parish, were up six percent over "High Incident," ABC's offering in the 8-9 p.m. EDT Thursday time slot last season. And, despite threats of a boy- cott of advertisers by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, ABC said all ad time for the debut-- and for the season-- had been sold. Ads for "Nothing Sacred" sold at $75,000 for a 30-second spot, the lowest price of any show on ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox this season. Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., the incoming chairman of the U.S. bishops' Communications Committee, asked Catholics in his diocese to approach "Nothing Sacred" with "a certain openness but also some skepticism." Bishop Lynch said he found "a lot" in the first episode to be "troublesome," including the "very incorrect, albeit quick, advice on abortion" the lead character, Father Ray, gives a penitent, and a ."tete-a-tete" he has with a priest representing his bishop. "But I found the character of the priest to be sensitively if incorrectly approached, and I found the program to be sup- portive of the power which priests can indeed have in the lives of our Catholic people," Bishop Lynch said. And the episode "does attempt, again dramatically; powerfully but sacramentally inaccurately, to capture the power of the sacraments in the lives of Catholics," he said. Father Ray encounters in the opening episode "what for most of us might be a lifetime of expe- riences," Bishop Lynch said. "Priestly ministry, is hard to cap- ture in 52 minutes. Much of what we do is routine and therefore not conducive to high drama." Moreover, "Hollywood did the priesthood no favors with Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzger- ald" of the "Going My Way" movies, the bishop said. 'q'hey were no more an accurate refleo tion of priestly ministry in that time than 'Nothing Sacred" is at this time in the life of the church." Cardinal James A. Hickey of Washington said he was bored viewing the first episode. Father Ray "didn't seem like a real priest," Cardinal Hickev wrote in the Sept. 18 issue of the Catholic Standard, Washing- ton's archdiocesan newspaper. Bishop James T. McHugh of Camden, N.J., writing in the Sept. 19 issue of the Catholic Star Herald, Camden's diocesan newspaper, said he {ound the show offensive. Catholics United for the Faith president Curtis Martin, in a statement Sept. 18 from the group's Steubenville, Ohio, headquarters, said the "Nothing Sacred" drama "lives up to its hi.Tie,  Meanwhile, The New York Times in a review said the show is "distinguished by a rare depth of character and mind," while The Washington Post called it "probably the best drama of the new season... supreme W,"