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Evansville, Indiana
November 11, 1994     The Message
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November 11, 1994
 

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 The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Taking the time to make a difference-- I saw my breath the other day. That's what we used to say, anyway, when I was a child. It was an exciting time, that first day of fall cool enough to let you see the warm moisture from your breath condense in the air in front of you. Perhaps you remember such a time too. Back then, on the first cold and sunny morning in October or November, with the memory of hot summer days still fresh in mind, it was fun to see your breath. The first long sleeved shirt of fall cov- ered the tee shirt tan'of summer. A walk in the sun felt wonderful then. In the middle of summer, the sun would drive you to seek shelter in shade -- but at this time of the year, when you first could see your breath, it was the sun that gave you shelter from the chill of the shade. Then the walk to school was fun -- blowing out the warm air that you must have somehow stored at home overnight, and watching your breath turn into a cloud. You had to be careful, be- cause if you tried too hard or blew too fast or too often, it wouldn;t work. But if you did it right, the walk to school was quick and easy and over too soon. The same walk a week earlier would have been slow and uneventful. The bag of school books A sign of fall, a gift of God By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR would grow heavier at each step. The same walk a week later would be uncomfortable. It's no fun to see your breath when your face feels cold, when you try to keep in- side of you the little warmth that you have. You don't waste it, breathing it out just to see it. Seeing your breath for the first time in the fall is exciting. It is a moment of nature's playfulness be- fore the seriousness of winter ar- rives. Seeing your breath is a re- minder that it was God who breathed order into a formless wasteland and life into a lump of clay. "The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) * * * * * The natural world is full of the signs of God's pres- ence. Some of us find God in the brightness of the sunlight. Some find God in the cool comfort of the shade. God is in the mighty wind that sweeps across the waters. God is in the gentle breath of a baby's life. If you live in an area where seasons change, you experience the annual cycle of death and re- birth, where winter's darkness is followed by new light, where the gentle low the harsh winds of wintry day. If you live in an area where the moderate the year around, the signs subtle -- but just as strong: the tides, or the and waning moon, or the growth cycle of a plant. Observe the signs of God's creation live -- and take the time to give thanks. more that you can do. Talk with some friends or the family about the air that you breathe. clear? A gift of God or filled with 1 and chemicals? What can you do about it? Would God -- who made the heavens earth, and all living creatures R be pleased how we have treated it? Would Jesus the children to come to him -- be ple today's grown-ups have prepared the world next generation? Take the time to do one thing with of your household each week to cut back tion. Plant a tree. Don't drive if you don't Walk to church together. Contribute to battling lung disease. You can make a (Questions and comments ar( the Christian Family Movement, P.O. Ames, Iowa 5001, .) -..--- Washington Letter Children and families first? Statistics say r00o. and everyone pays By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Wealthy businessman Dick Doe might not be worried that 4-year-old Johnny Jones doesn't have enough to eat. But he should, according to a new book by a senior official for the Children's Defense Fund. Poor nutrition can make Johnny iron deficient. A child with an iron deficiency absorbs lead into his bloodstream more easily, and lead paint is preva- lent in the low-income housing that Johnny's family can af- ford. Lead poisoning can cause learning difficulties for Johnny and prompt behavior problems at school, leaving him unedu- cated and unemployable. The next step for Johnny might be a lifetime in jail or on welfare, with Doe and other taxpayers paying the tab. "You can't intervene along 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 Pubshe .............. Bishop GerSd A. Getlelfingef Etor ............................................ Paul Leingang Producti0n Manager ........................... Phil Boger Circulat ................................... Amy Hot.man Advening .................................... Paul Newland Safff writer ............................ Mary Arm Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-O169 (812) 424-5536 Fax: (812) 421-1334 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- t number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication Cop 1994  F:'I oi' Evansvilb 1 i i the way and expect to solve all the problems," said Arloc Sher- man, a senior policy analyst at the Children's Defense Fund. "You've got to go to the root of the problem. To solve poverty, you really have to solve poverty." Sherman is the author of "Wasting America's Future: A Report from the Children's De- fense Fund on the Costs of Child Poverty," to be published Nov. 15 by Beacon Press. "The. human costs of child poverty are soberingly high," he said at a Nov. 1 seminar on his book at the Washington of- rices of the Institute for Policy Studies. Catholic leaders long have been concerned about the is- sues raised in Sherman's book, especially since the U.S. bish- ops launched the Catholic Campaign for Children and Families following the issuance of their 1991 pastoral letter, "Putting Children and Fami- lies First." "We urge a reordering of pri- orities -- personal, ecclesial and societal -- to focus more on the needs and potential of our children," the bishops said. "This message is a call for con- version and action -- a spiri- tual and social reawakening to the moral and human costs of neglecting our children and families." But-in the years since that letter came out, things have gotten worse instead of better for the nation's poor children and families. According to the annual poverty and income data re- leased by the Census Bureau in October, the number of poor people rose from 38 million in 1992 to 39.3 million in 1993. The poverty line for a family of three was $11,522 in 1993; for a family of four, it was $14,763. Those numbers place the national poverty rate at 15.1 percent of all Americans. But children are much worse off than the average. The child poverty rate showed only a small increase -- from 22.3 percent to 22.7 percent -- between 1992 and 1993, but has jumped from 16.2 percent in 1977. Hardest hit are black children, with a 46.1 percent poverty rate, and Hispanic children, who at a 40.9 percent poverty rate are almost as likely to be poor as black children. Even when noncash bene- fits such as food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing and fringe benefits at work are counted as in- come, the poverty rate for 1993 remains at 12.1 percent. A report from the Wash- ington-based Center on Bud- get and Policy Priorities at- tributes the rising poverty levels to several factors -- wage erosion among low- and middle-income working par- ents, the rise in single-parent families and "a weaker safety net, for children. "In 1993, fewer than one in every seven children who were poor before receipt of government benefits were lifted from poverty by these benefits," the report said. "In 1979, nearly one in five chil- dren who were poor before re- ceipt of benefits were lifted from poverty by them." The center also noted that the poor are poorer than ever before. In 1993, more than four of every 10 poor people had income below half the poverty line, or $7,382 for a family of four. In 1977, three of every 10 poor people had incomes that low. Around the country, Catholics are working with state and local leaders to im- prove the plight of children and families. In Maryland this October, the state's Catholic bishops put their hopes for the future -- and 38 specific policy recommendations -- in a 50- page statement called "Putting Families and Children First." "Let us insist that the needs of families and children, espe- cially the poorest and most vul- nerable among them, be as- signed first priority in the political debate," they said. Sherman of the Children's Defense Fund sayshe and other 'children's advocates must present not only the grim statistics about children and families but also the "the cru- cial and optimistic message that the United States can re- duce family poverty." "There are solutions that aren't just expanding the cur- rent welfare system, which everyone on and off the welfare rolls hates," he said. Among those are child ance, a famil wage, expansion Income Credit and range of things work," including u! health care and cost, high-( "We ative things we say is broken with can be done and done," Sherman said. Bishop's sched The following activities and events are schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger. ,, i