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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
September 27, 1991     The Message
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September 27, 1991

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4 Editorial By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor Our son walked ahead of us toward the next event in the college registration process. We -- his mother and his father -- walked a few feet behind him. We were at the University of Chicago where our son, Matt, is a freshman. He is our first-born. The first to leave home. The process was well-organized. We arrived at the dorm shortly after 9 a.m. amidst a steady stream of families arriving at the same time for the same purpose. With quick help from older stu- dents and after only a relative short wait in line, we stuffed our son's stuff into his room and were on our way to Mass at the Newman chapel shortly before 10 a.m. By noon we had been in several more lines, sometimes saving a place for Matt in the next line as he finished earlier paperwork. It was shortly after lunch when the gap began to widen in our walking pattern. Matt seemed to step away more and more from us, as the time of Washington Letter The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana September 27, 1991 I On entering college: Taking a step ahead, our separation approached. It was an outward sign. His first day at college was something we had planned and prepared for. We always knew it would be an exciting time, and that there would be mixed emotions. We were happy and excited about the beginning of a brand new set of intellectual, emotional and social circum- stances. We were sad at the separation, neces- sary as it was. After that day, we would no longer be able to hold a place for him in line. He would be on his own. After that day, the physical distance be- tween us would seem to be permanent, even as it began to be obvious by the way we started to separate as we walked from line to line. We would remain behind him, giving him the support in the way that all parents are called to give. But he would not be the small son be- tween us as we walked hand-in-hand the way we once did. He would be ahead of us, turning to tell us that we were walking too slow. And it was true. True in a more complete way than it seemed at the time. The pace of our lives is different. Youth is quick. Parents are slow. It is supposed to be that way. Youth is supposed to push ahead -- fully aware and confidant that the parents are some- where back there, slow and steady. On a rainy Sunday afternoon in Chicago I be- came one with my father and his father and his father before him. I lived the departure from the family farm to the rented property of a new be- ginning. I lived the ocean voyage from the Father- land to the new world. All of my feelings are still inside and unsort- ed, but the image remains true: we are walking to a new and unknown place and Matt is walking ahead of us, eager and excited, occasionally look- ing back to see if we are still there, and wonder- ing -- even as he walks faster -- why his parents seem to be so slow. Confirmation hearings: There's humor in those dry proceedings By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The view of the confirmation hearings of Judge Clarence Thomas from beyond the range of television cameras was quite different from that seen by audiences at home. While there's no arguing about the potential impact of the hearings -- if confirmed Thomas could easily serve as a Supreme Court justice through the first third of the next century -- much of the activity and drama had little to do with the process. There were hulnorotls or Jesuit Father John Brooks, tes- tify in his behalf. But with that exception, nearly all references to reli- gion in the hearings were generated by committee chairman Sen. Joseph Biden, D-DeI., about his own Catholic background. In a prolonged discussion with Thomas about natural law, Biden referred to his Catholic education and the roots of natural law in tile teachings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Later, he joked about feeling a nun's finger poking him in the back while she monitored his behavior. He ('autioned is totally irrelevant," Biden said in a mild rebuke to Simon. Catholic senators Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Patrick Leahy of Ver- mont, both Democrats, also support abortion rights. The fourth Catholic, Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., opposes abortion. The hearings also were no- table for the spectacular Sen- ate Caucus room itself and what went on beyond camera range. The caucus room has been the scene of some of the. na- tion's more memorable cret Service agents silently rotated positions at tim doors. More than 100 reporters from radio, television, news- papers, magazines and wire services packed the press ta- bles for the first two days when Thomas was on the stand. As Senate confirma- tion hearings began else- where for Robert Gates as nominee to head the CIA, the number of reporters was re- duced by half. Toward the end of the two-week session, often only a handful of jour- nalists remained. As hearing sessions stretched to 10 and 12 hours Biden upon the chmrman s return that in his absence. the committee has passed several constitutional amend" ments." In the hallway outside; abortion rights activists pace ,.o the marl)led floor, anxious to provide comments about whY they oppose Thomas to anY interested reporter. Thomas supporters came and went, some wearing buttons or T" shirts urging coufirmatiotl' Both sides waged a daily bat" tle for space on the table re: l served for press releases ariel I testimony. Tourists and governmerJt simply interesting aspects of the rnarathon sessions that kept the regulars awake trot rarely were reported. Religion was one topic that came up several times. Prior to the hearings, Thomas' Catholic background was widely publicized. He even had one of his Catholic elementary school teachers, Franciscan Sister Mary Vir- gilius Reidy, and the presi- dent of Holy Cross College, 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 Publisher .............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Associate PuNisher ............... Rev. Joseph Ziliak Editor ............................................ Paul Leingang Production Manager ........................... Phil Beget Circulation .................................... Susan Winiger Advertising .................................... Paul Newland Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication Copy 1991 Catholic Press of Evansville Sister Reidy that he might slip into a childhood habit of saying "Yes, Str (Sister).". Finally, in a more serious vein, he chided Sen. Paul Simon, D- Ill., for a comumnt about Thomas' current church-going practices. "The Episcopalian church has generally taken a pro- choice stand," Simon had said in a criticism of Thomas' refusal to voice his feelings about abortion. "Yet he at- tends an Episcopal church that takes the opposite stand." Biden noted that he was one of four Catholics on the committee, three of whom tend to support abortion rights despite the church's opposition. "Where he goes to church Congratulation To the editor: In response to the letter from Jim Kane, Sept. 13 issue of the Message - CONGRAT- ULATIONS! Very well written! Mary Kirsch Evansville events: then-Sen. John F. Kennedy's announcement that he would run for presi- dent; the drafting of the de.t:- laration of war in World War I. Twelve Corinthian columns line the 80-foot mar- ble walls, leading to a stun- ning ceiling newly renovated with new gold leaf on its French-inspired floral design. Four towering crystal chande- liers usually light the room, but for the hearing banks of television lights were strung between the fixtures and an- chored near the plush scarlet velvet curtains. The room itself may be old -- the Russell building dates to 1909  but its air condi- tioning is quite modern. Those working out camera range shivered under jackets in air chilled to 60-something degrees to help the politi- cians appear cool under hot TV lights. Behind the scenes, people passed through the splendor steadily and quietly. Staffers brought fresh glasses of water to witnesses and the senators; messengers picked up film and the stenographer's tape cassettes. Senators moved in and out between other hear- ings and appointments. Every .half hour like clockwork, Se- some days, the few senators who remained found various ways to pass the time. One thumbed through magazines. The 88-year-old Sen. Strom Thurmond, R- S.C., kept vigil ow.r the proceedings with a sunglass-shaded eagle eye on each colleague's time limits for questioning. At one point in the second week, so many senators had left the room that only Sen. Hank Brown, R-Colo. was left to chair the hearing. The most junior member of the 14- member panel, Brown told workers on lunch breaks queued up two floors belo for their turn to sit in for a while, occasionally to be let in just in time to watch t he procee(lings hreak up. If they waite(t through he slow parts, the, y were in for one of the more iuterestiN dramas Washington has to offer -- complete with petty bickering, good-natured rib" bing, grandstanding for t be cameras, glimpses of famO s politicians, reporters and wit" nesses, and maybe even aleS" son in government. Bishops schedule The following activities and events are listed on the schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger -'.on Retreat:, Sarto :Retreat House through Sunday; Personn s house, Tuesday, l Oct, !, 3