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November 19, 1993     The Message
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November 19, 1993
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana --- Perspective-- Connecting our public lives to our religious p "They broke the cross into pieces and put them back into the box," said the woman. My wife and ! I had just met the woman and her husband, and we were exchanging stories about where we had lived and some of the experiences we had had. She was describing what hap- pened when she and her husband and children moved to a country in the Middle East. The incident she reported took place as their luggage was in- spected at the border. The cross had been a present from the par- ents to their son, to mark a special occasion. The luggage inspector deliberately took the cross from its protective package and broke it into two pieces, and then returned it to its packaging, she said, "so that we would know what had been done." A sign of Christianity was not permitted in that country. The inspector wanted to make sure that the new arrivals became aware of that fact. It would not By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR have been enough to confiscate the cross -- it had to be broken. Once in the country, they lived an unusual Catholic life -- at least, unusual by our standards and expe- rience. Their priest had a full time job and celebrated with them, when he could, in secret. When he could not join the small community of Catholics, one of the lay persons led the group in a Scripture service. The children were instructed to call the priest by his first name. If they were to meet in a store or on the street, the priest's activity could not be accidentally revealed by someone calling him "Father." The family's story has been in my thoughts and reflections, and it leads me to wonder and to suppose, and to think such thoughts as "What if..." and "How would I have reacted?" First, I have to feel thankful for the free ex- pression of religion in our own country. At times, however, it seems that some people are seeking to protect us from religion instead of protecting freedom to practice it. Second, I have to wonder how our own would fare under a repressive system. faith be stronger if it were more difficult to it? Is it too easy for us to say, "I'm a Third, I wonder who among us is Washington Letter tel forward in a leadership position. If the gathers to pray, to work, or to have fun -- will one step forward to preside? When we work, seems to be no lack of leadership. When we .... for fun, there seems to be no shyness. But pray, leaders seem more reluctant to step -- as if embarrassed or uncertain. It is easy for me to say that there should distinction between our public lives a practices. It is easy for me to say that beliefs must govern our business practices. penalty for making such statements. Having heard the story of the the Middle East, I look forward to a new ing when I read the Acts of the Apostles. In ways, we are all "early.Christians." New tactics take pro-life report to the courts, into By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Nearly 21 years after the U.S. Supreme Court removed most state restrictions on abortion, the pro-life community is try- ing some new tactics to keep down the number of abortions here and abroad. For Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., the strategy is a lawsuit against the U.S. Agency for International De- velopment, accusing the agency of violating federal law by giving funds to the United Nations Population Fund de- spite its support for forced abortions and sterilizations in China. For a new project called Real Choices, the tactic is dialogue with women who have had abortions, with those who help women through crisis pregnan- cies and even with those who help them have abortions. And for the National Council of Catholic Women, the latest idea is a woman-to-woman pro- gram that matches experi- enced mothers with pregnant women to help ease the stresses of pregnancy and as- sure the baby a healthy start in life. Smith, co-chairman of the Hotse Pro-Life Caucus, joined with Chinese nationals Tong Wai Zhang and Zhen Hue Guo Nov. 9 in suing AID in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Smith said the agency vio- lated the Kemp-Inouye law which bans U.S. funding of =any organization or program which, as determined by the president of the United States, supports or participates in the mangement of a program of coercive abortion or involun- tary sterilization." The agency, which had not given money to the U.N. popu- lation group since 1985, gave it $14.5 million in fiscal 1993 after President Clinton said none of the money should go to China. Another $50 million is budgeted for fiscal 1994. "The Clinton administra- tion's action in this instance trivializes the nightmare of forced abortion and involun- tary sterilization in China," Smith said. "It whitewashes the U.N. Population Fund's complicity in these heinous crimes." Nancy O'Brien, vice presi- dent for public relations of Feminists for Life, joined Smith at the press conference announcing the lawsuit, and said she was there "to defend the lives of women who live half a world away." "My so-called feminist sis- ters ... talk about defending the reproductive rights of women," she added. "And yet, when a government uses force to take away the right of a woman to have a child, my so- called feminist sisters fade into the woodwork." Another official of Feminists for Life, vice president Freder- ica Mathewes-Green, was tak- ing a different tack toward women who support legal abor- tion, as director of the Real Choices project. Kaitlyn's version of original sin To the editor: The timing of Bishop Get- telfinger's comments on disci- pline was certainly coinciden- tal and seemed to overwhelm me. Just two days before I read it, my four-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Kaitlyn Woehler, gave her account of Original Sin, in an early evening phone conversation with me. At the start of the Bishop's article in the Message on Sept. 24, I thought, "Oh, oh, someone should refresh his memoryab6tit:Adam and Eve and Original Sin." Then I read on and was somewhat relieved to find that he hadn't forgot- ten, after all. Just the same, I would like to share Kaitlyn's version. Her vocabulary was amazing. "Adams and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. They had no discipline. The devil visited them disguised as a snake. He promised them if they would eat the fruit they would be as good as God. So they ate the fruit." I said, "That is when they ate the apple, right Kaitlyn?" She said, "No, Granny, it was a peach. This was a peach tree. They had to leave the gar- den." See what happens when you have no discipline. To me, this was pleasant en- tertainment.and sent me to bed with a smile on my face and a whole lot of gratefulness in my heart for Kaitlyn and for all of our grand and great- grandchildren. We do not have to rely upon the late night movies for entertainment. Cleo Zirkelbach Evansville 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. Getteffinger Emr ............................................ Paul Leingang Pmctn Manager ........................... Phil er Cirlaon ................................... Amy Housn'l Advesing .................................... Paul Newland Stafff wnler ............................ Maly Ann Hughes Address all ,ommunications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $12.00 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 C 1993  Press o Evansvi "As a pro-life advocate who was once pro-choice, I am heartened by a shift in recent years in both movements," she wrote in a Nov. 3 letter to Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion.Rights Ac- tion League. "As both sides turn away from intractable legal battles, we discover that pregnancies are not political tokens, but in- timate realities borne in the bodies of women for whom abortion is usually a last, and reluctant, choice." In an effort to reduce the de- mand for abortion, the Real Choices project is making an "outreach to the pro-choice community" in order to "help make a little bit of peace and a little bit of progress on the thorny issue of abortion," Ms. Mathewes-Green said at a Nov. 10 press conference in Washington. The aim of the di- alogue is to find out what types of assistance women need to keep them from having abor- tions. As of Nov. 12, there had been no response to her letter to Ms. Michelman, nor to her Nov. 8 letter asking support of the project from President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Real Choice includes a of those who run sist women in cies and face-to-face women who tions. Those dial( small groups of already taken geles, Cleveland, Washington and in Phoenix, Orla and Boston. Among backers is the National Catholic Women, ing its own to Mothers, or in the Northern The program is of the Resource National vent Infant "Experience programs seems t that a c gram of re a parenting fewer low fewer reports of more childhood and an overall child ticle on the written for the Junior Leagues ] Child Health Bishop's sc The following activities and events are schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger.