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November 21, 1997     The Message
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November 21, 1997

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4 The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Novembe Expectations great and small By PAUL R. LEINGANG Editor What she said was surpris- ing. Her parents had lived in a log cabin, she said. This recent conversation included individuals and couples of various ages. I would not have thought that she was old enough, this woman who was telling the story, to have parents in a log cabin. Her parents needed only a few things that had to be purchased -- flour was one item she mentioned but everything else they needed, they produced for themselves. The log cabin story popped into my mind a few days later, when I heard a radio talk show host talk about his lack of practical ability. He said he had been raised in an apartment in New York -- and that he had learned from his parents what to do when some- thing was broken. "You push a button to call the apartment superintendent," he said. People preparing for marriage often take some kind of pre-marital inventory, to help them discover the roots of their attitudes and habits and expecta- tions. People who experience a Marriage Encounter often spend time, first alone and then together, dis- cussing the experiences which shaped their lives. One of the most thought- and talk-producing meetings prepared by the Christian Family move- ment challenges couples to examine the way they celebrate holidays in their families of origin. Sim- ple questions provoke long discussion: When did you celebrate Christmas -- on Christmas Eve or on the morning of Christmas Day? Attitudes and expectations certainly must grow within each of us, without much conscious planning m and the differences show up not only at holiday time. A few years ago, my wife and I reluctantly realized that the roof of our home needed some attention. My wife is the daughter of a college teacher-artist-chemist and a high school teacher and lover of English and literature, who lived in the city. My wife assumed we would hire a roofing con- tractor. I assumed I would do it myself. Her assumption made more sense, ultimately, but her sound reasoning and my un-examined expectations conflicted within me. When the pro- fessionals had a tough time completing our roof- ing job, though, my inner conflict quickly van- ished. Take the time today to reflect on the experi- ences you bring -- and the attitudes you may take for granted  to your family. What do you expect to happen during this Thanks- giving-Advent-Christmas season? Who, in your expec- tation, is responsible for getting things What happens to the broken things in home? What do you teach your children or replacement? Examine the needs of people shelters and at soup kitchens, at this time Try to get to know someone in such a enough to gain greater understanding of ual's personal history. Take the time to get to know the your household better. Learn holiday experience, but don't neglect differences in everyday realities. Ge spouse better. If you have children, make tell them the stories (but not too often) of hood. Teach someone a household skill. skill. Help a younger couple learn from' experience. If your strengths ment, get involved Habitat for Humanity  and help a owner to develop the skills required. Make ' ence! Comments about this column art or the Christian Family Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Old idea, new promoter: United religions group By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Episcopal Bishop William E. Swing has a vision that has taken over his life. In it, all the religions of the world participate in an interna- tional organization, which works to exert a combined moral voice to address suffering in the world. Bishop Swing's goal is to have United Religions  a forum where member religions change not their own tenets and beliefs, but their attitudes toward other faiths, enabling them to tackle together issues like violence committed in the name of reli- gion and sponsoring forums for discussion of common interests like prayer. The idea came to Bishop t 4200 N. Ave, Kentucky Evansville, IN 47711 .I,'. Weekly newspaper of 00ocese of Pv=zcw ............ eaop Ge  C.,==ng= Eazor .......... 2 ................ Pa FL Lmpng Pfoduc T= .......... _Jor Och SW.W ......................... UanP Addrnz aW ommurdcation= to P.O. Box 4169, Evarwvige, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Cow Pr.e: $.5o E.qZred =s pedod mattw at m po= offCe  , Il 4T/01. Plical nlanl 843800.+ PolmasW: Raium PO0 ias 3579 to Olf of  19E/Cac Pros el Evaas , , ,, ,,, : .i, , Swing in 1993 when, as the head of the Episcopal Diocese of Cal- ifornia, he was asked to orga- nize an ecumenical observance of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. The process of bringing together people to recognize the work of the United Nations made him consider what a group of religions in a U.N.-like organization could accomplish. The idea is not new. Efforts originating from various coun- tries and dating back at least to 1893 have been attempted with varying degrees of temporary Success. Some, such as the World Alliance of Religions in the 1950s, lasted long enough to hold some conferences, accord- ing to information compiled by United Religions. Others are still functioning in one form or another, but have failed to attract a worldwide following. Bishop Swing hopes to launch United Religions with a world- wide, 24-hour observance of nonviolence and peacemaking on Dec. 31, 1999, followed by the signing of a United Reli- gions charter on June 26, 2000, the 55th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Though upper-level religious leaders have been slower to join in, grass-roots support for Unit- ed Religions is growing, he said at an October presentation for the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. "We are seeing it happen at a spiritual grass-roots level around the world," he said. "I have traveled the world approaching the religious lead- ers, and it is clear to me that they will not be the ones to do it." Father E Gerard O'Rourke, director of the office of Ecu- menism and Interreligious Dia- logue for the Catholic Archdio- cese of San Francisco, has followed the United Religions effort since its beginning and is a member of the board of direc- tors. He noted that Bishop Swing has met at least twice with Car- dinal Francis Arinze, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. "The first time was a disas- ter," Father O'Rourke said, but since then, Cardinal Arinze has become more open to the dis- cussion. Though Bishop Swing ulti- mately wants the cooperation of church leaders, he doesn't nec- essarily assume lack of their participation is an obstacle. The point of the organization is not to have a place for the pope and the Dalai Lama to talk, he explained, but to pro- vide a place for people of faith throughout the world to turn their beliefs into actions. The organization's charter, for example, might refer to condemnation of violence, pro- tecting the earth's resources and providing hospitality to strangers -- common teachings of most religions. Bishop Swing said he recog- nizes that upper-level leaders of the world's religions approach interacting with other faiths from a background of complex theological distinctions and his- torical differences. For instance, he said discus- sions between Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders about celebrating Easter on a common date beginning at the millenni- um get hung up over the fear that such an action would offend followers of each faith. "They don't want to give a sig- nal of unity if they don't have intercommunion," Bishop Swing said. Others look at participation in such a group as signaling that they are watering down their own doctrines. "They don't want to appear as if we put all the religions into a great blender and watered them down to one," he said. "So what we do is work with the second or third layer down in the hierarchy." Father O'Rourke says that approach is succeeding. "We have the ear of a lot of religious leaders -- bishops, etc. but not their participation yet," he said. "I think it's miraculous the way it's come together already," he said. 'There's a lot of grass- roots work taking place." Bishop Swing envisions Unit- ed Religions as a structure that would "build around all the entrenched, established dis- putes." Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., co- chairman of the Human Rights his support to gions effort the issues the originate from name of religion. "Stud( the idea of United be an oxymoron," "Throughout history , have been secuting and Although none stream beliefs of major religions fence, incidents massacre of hundreds ian women and group claiming to name of God" are met by silence from world's religious op said. Bisho[ ing Swiss Catholic Father Hans Kung: be no peace until there is peace gions and there peace among there's dialogue Youth Forum, Kansas City, Thursday, Friday day, Nov. 20, 21 and 22. Liturgy at Memorial Hospital, Jasper, anniversary of the birth of their foundress, in Center of the Medical Arts Building, Saturday, Nov. EST. Closing Liturgy/Transition to Chapel, St. Barr Township, Sunday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m. EST. Dedication of Religious Education Center, Idol) Bloomfield, Sunday, noon EST. Priests Retirement Board Meeting, day, Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. CST.