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October 14, 1994     The Message
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October 14, 1994

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana October -- Taking the time to make a difference-- " Family life revealed by a loving child I hope this story does not embar- rass anybody. Especially the family at the center of it. Names are being omitted and circumstances obscured, to protect their identity and to preserve their anonymity. The story is true. We will call the man, "Dad." The little girl is his daughter. The scene is a Red Cross blood donation drive in a midwestern city. Dad is on the table. I guess you call it a cot, but it looks like a table. Little Girl is watching as the nurse prepares Dad for giving blood. Little Girl is inquisitive, and asks how much Dad weighs. She says she knows you have to be a certain weight, or you can't give blood. Her little girl voice carries throughout the blood donation center of a four table-type cots and several infor- mation stations. You have to weigh a hundred pounds, don't you, she asks, although it is obvious she already knows the answer. Dad can give blood but Mom can't. Mom doesn't weigh enough, she says, and then goes on with her story. Morn weighs 99 pounds, she tells the nurse and anyone else in earshot. And at that point, of course, everyone in the large room is in earshot. Mom used to weigh only 98 pounds, Little Girl announces. Until last night. That's when they had the party. By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR Nobody asks questions, but that doesn't stop the flow of an- swers. We had the party for Dad's fiftieth birthday, she tells everyone in earshot. Laughter follows. Congratula- tions are given. "Happy Birthday" is spoken to Dad, who is still lying on the table with needle in his arm, connected to a tube running to a plastic bag. Dad can't stop his daughter from her story. She tells about the belly dancer who came to Dad's party. And about the sign out by the street inviting people to honk their horns as they drove past -- the sign the neighbors asked them to take down, so their chil- dren could get some sleep. Finally, the details are exhausted. Dad and daughter leave. Quiet returns to the blood dona- tion area. * * * So, it appears to be true: kids do say the darn- dest things. But there is something to be observed in this story that goes well beyond that obvious point. Kids reveal their parents. Not all of us have kids, but all of us are some- body's kids, and we all reveal our parents in some way or another. The little girl in this story is a lot like Jesus, who filled his listeners with stories about the family of God. We know what we know about God Jesus revealed God to us. * * * How are you like your parents? How are ferent? :i If you have children, try to find out what are revealing about you. Are you pleased or pleased with what they tell the world about your family life? As Christians, each of us is called to reveal! love of God to our brothers and sisters, of God. Do others know that we are Christians? they tell by our actions? By what our about us? Or by what our neighbors have enced? Are we able to become as innocent ful -- as a child who fills a room with the family she loves? The God who loves us will never rassed. Take the time to reveal God's love to person, someone in your home or in your hood. Share your faith with another. Take the time to tell a story about -- your own family. Questions and comments are welcome at the ian Family Movement, P.O. Box 272, Ames, 50010. ---- Washington How much does character count in politics? By MARK PATrISON Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In American politics, the charac- ter issue has dogged countless office-seekers, from Richard Nixon to Gary Hart to the Rev. Pat Robertson to Wilbur Mills. In the 19th century, Presi- dent Grover Cleveland's char- acter was raked over the coals about an illegitimate child he fathered with the rhyme, "Ma! Ma! Where's my pa!" "Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!" Character issues hound President Clinton. In Vir- ginia's U.S. Senate race, they're bound to make a loser out of either Oliver North, whose conviction in the Iran- contra scandal was overturned on appeal, or incumbent Demo- crat Charles Robb, who's faced accusations of personal impro- priety. And it still nips at the heels of Washington's once -- and maybe future -- mayor, 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. Geffelfinger Editor ............................................ Paul Leingang Production Manager ........................... Phil Boger Circulation ................................... Amy Housrnan hdvesing ................................... Paul New!and Stafff writer ............................ Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. 13ox 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2rid class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tson number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication 1994 Ca,o Press of Evansville Marion Barry. The National Catholic Edu- cational Association was one of 50- plusnational organiza- tions, along with 16 members of Congress and actor Tom Sel- leck, in a new Character Counts Coalition seeking to "fix the hole in the moral ozone." But how much does charac- ter count in politics? A lot, to hear ethicists and political scientists. It always has and always will. "You don't know what issues are going to come up in four years or six years," said Glen Thurow, graduate dean and di- rector of the diocesan-run Uni- versity of Dallas' Institute of Philosophic Studies. "It makes perfect sense for voters to give weight" to char- acter, he said. Kay Wolsborn, associate pro- fessor of political science at the Benedictine-run College of St. Benedict in Collegeville, Minn., said voters have historically made character a prime con- sideration. When it comes to character, "perception is what sways votes, not reality," she said. "Sometimes they match, some- times they don't." "America doesn't want its leaders to be namby-pamby. They want their leaders in a way to be tough, to be red- blooded," said Robert Royal, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington. But, Royal noted, Americans also want their elected officials to have moral standards "even higher than themselves." Politicians aren't necessarily Elmer Gantry-style hypocrites because they have failings, Thanks for support, Bishop To the editor: The pro-life coordinators of our diocese wish to thank Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger for taking the time to bless and dedicate the new Project Rachel memorial stone for aborted babies at St. Joseph Cemetery in Evansville. On a misty Sunday afternoon on September 25, our bishop took time our from his pressing schedule to don his station's full regalia and honor us with his presence. His homily on hope and forgiveness was most uplifting and reassuring. Thank you, Bishop Gerald, for all your support in securing a monument for our diocese and for being there for the dedica- tion. We deeply appreciate your efforts. The diocesan coordinators Mona Redman, secretary Golden Jubilee Celebration To the editor: We would like to thank Bishop Gettelfinger andCatholic Charities for the lovely celebra- tion on October 2 in honor of the Golden Jubilarians. We enjoyed it very much. Royal said. Barry's comeback in Washington from a drug ar- rest came about because he was able to "portray himself as having been regenerated." Strong racial, ethnic or reli- gious identification with a politi- cian may keep the politician in office even amid a wave Of throw-the-rascals-out sentiment. "In Boston, they elected Michael Curley (mayor) even though he was in jail. But he was Irish and Catholic, and not a 'Boston Brahmin,"' said Edward Renwick, political sci- ence professor at Jesuit-run Loyola University in New Or- leans. Minorities in politics try to evade trouble, he added, when they blame their woes on harassment by an elite group to which they do not belong. The downside to the high- profile attention given to char- acter is that "we are so dis- turbed by reports of misdeeds, we don't want to see ... even the appearance of misdeeds," Royal said. This leads to a lack of trust in government because people imagine all of govern- ment is corrupt, he said. The media bear some re- sponsib!lity for the new atti- tude. Negative campaign ads and sensationalized headlines have changed the rules of the game. "If you're going to have all those pop-news you've got to fill something," Renwick In attack ads, have the candidate have a voice-over. It be an objective Thurow said. "If you platform saying about another that candidate, reflect on you." "Negative carol works, especially minute," Ms. works best among aren't familiar with Renwick Supreme Court is virtually impossible public official "gung- ho j lowed in Watergate' the two turning character is ers. Ms. Wolsborn's the effect of talk seems to be no line entertainment porting. A lot of with think that it must be news. been subjected to the newsroom." It may be a big "(Abraham) Line He did See Bishop's sched The following activities and events are schedule of Bi shop Gerald A. Gettelfinger. Retreat, Monday, Oct,, 10 throu Oct. 19. USCC ( creditation, Green Bay, Wise., Friday, Oct. 21 Sunday, Oct. 23. Mr. and Mrs Paul Davis St. Francis Xavier, Vincennes