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Evansville, Indiana
November 22, 1996     The Message
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November 22, 1996
 

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The Message-- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Taking the time to make a difference -- A singular approach to the overwhel I have to admit the headline caught my eye. Some details stuck, too. The words that popped off the page into my mind were "nation's cynicism" and "anger." And the details in the Scripps Howard News Service story by Ann McFeatters were also very strik- ing. A new commission is using a $1 million grant to learn more about what people perceive to be the moral decline of the United States, and to make some recom- mendations about how to combat this situation. The commission cited a Los Angeles Times finding in April 1996 that 78 percent of Americans said they are "dissatisfied with moral values these days." And further, 59 percent of Americans said the country's major problems are caused by a lack of morality, according to a Chilton Research Ser- vices study done for ABC News. Whether you agree with his politics or not, you may be struck by the understatement made by the former education secretary William Bennett. Not- ing that the United States is a world leader in abor- tions, murder, violent and juvenile crime, consump- tion of pornography and cocaine use, Bennett is quoted as saying, "Something is wrong." By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR The statistics,the studies, the conclusions -- they are frightening. Yet I believe there is hope. I know that I what I am about to write may easily be viewed as simplistic, but then I am in good company. When faced with a society which generally perceived that the values of Christianity were irrele- vant, Canon Joseph Cardijn in Bel- gium responded with a process that championed Gospel values. It was simple to say, not so simple to adopt: Observe, Judge and Act. This clergyman, Canon Cardi- jn, wanted priests to be present in the factories and in the marketplace. He wanted believers to bear witness to their faith not only at the church, but more powerfully in the secular soci- ety. His simple three-part method stands the test of time, and provides concerned Christians with some comfort in the light of adversity, and discomfort in the light of complacency. Observe the world around you. Judge what you see in the light of Christ's teaching. Act to make it better. driver, you slow down. If you are you help the child to safety. What brings so much hope very simplicity of what you can way safety statistics may overwhelm --just the one person that you tively to protect one child in one tion. You may not be able to bear witnesS! own values and convictions to the 78 Americans who are dissatisfied And you may not be able to de cent of the population that your faith can make a difference in a world seems to have no faith or hope But you can make a difference -- t about to take a step into the You and people in your church or can make a difference to the one take a step into your path. You acknowledge his or her the opportunity. You and your neighbors can among you who is in danger, who hand, who could benefit by your If you take the time, you can make The process is so simple we do it without think- ing in everyday life. You observe a child standing near the edge of a busy street, you immediately assess the danger, and you take action: if you are a ence. Comments about this column are prleing@cfm.org or the Christian P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Washington Letter No strawberry fields forever for beleaguered By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Cathotic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- At age 26, Celso Munoz might soon be all washed up in the straw- berry industry. Because they spend 10 to 12 hours a day stooped over the low strawberry plants, few of his co- workers stay in the fields past age 30. Exposure to dangerous pesticides and a lack of clean bathrooms and safe drinking water in the fields also can con- tribute te workers' health prob- lems. Munoz, who has worked for seven years at Berry Chill Cool- er in Watsonville, Calif., and makes about $8,000 a year, hopes a new nationwide cam- paign by the United Farm Work- ers and the AFL-CIO will help to raise his wages and improve conditions in the strawberry fields. "We are asking for the sup- port of everyone in changing the conditions in the field," he said The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Pdisher ............. Bishoo Gerald h. Gettelfinger Edi ...................................... Paul R. Leingang Production Technician ............... Joseph Dietrich Adverfng ................................... Paul Nand Staff Writer ............................ Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: !t $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as periodical matter at the post offce in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication t 1996 Catholic Pros of Evansville at a Washington press confer- ence Nov. 13. "We don't have a voice to change these conditions. If we speak out, we are fired." Munoz's words in Spanish were translated by Arturo S. Rodriguez, UFW president, who compared the current strawber- ry campaign to the epic battles led by his predecessor and father-in- law, the late Cesar Chavez, to unionize farmwork- ers in the 1960s. Chavez, who died in 1993, "created a grand coalition that united behind farmworkers in the 1960s. Today we kick off a new coalition for the 1990s," Rodriguez said. "Cesar's spirit is alive inside thousands of Cali- fornia strawberry workers bat- tling nonviolently against the culture of oppression that has plagued them for generations." The National Strawberry Com- mission for Workers' Rights, announced at the press confer- ence, includes a wide range of individuals and organizations representing women, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, cler- gy and religious, and environ- mentalists. Catholic members include the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, National Association of Hispanic Priests and Deacons, Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and indi- viduals such as Bishop John E. McCarthy of Austin, Texas, Arch- bishop Patrick F. Flores of San Antonio and well-known labor priest Msgr. George Higgins. Presentation Sister Margaret Cafferty, LCWR executive direc- tor, said it was only natural to ind Catholic nuns supporting I Letters to the editor are [ welcome at the Message, P.O. '] Box 4169, Evansville, IN I 47724-0169. All letters must I be signed and include a day time phone number the rights of strawberry work- ers. "Wherever you find workers facing these kinds of problems, you are going to find Catholic sisters there," she said. They educate the children of migrant workers, help them with food or clothing when their meager wages cannot provide enough for their families, and stand by them in their fight for justice, she added. "We see the results of what it means to be old at 30," Sister Cafferty said. "We see what it means for a child to have to work the fields instead of going to school. And we think these things are wrong." John J. Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, said the effort dubbed "Five Cents for Fair- ness" is one of his organization's "biggest union drives." It is fit- ting for the UFW to be central to the campaign, he said. "For years the Farm Workers have represented the moral cen- ter of the movement," Sweeney said. "They have struggled on behalf of workers who are the lowest paid, the least respected and the most abused." "Five Cents for Fairness" refers to the unions' belief based on a report by the Cali- fornia Institute for Rural Stud- ies in Davis t that raising the average strawberry worker's pay rate by 50 percent would increase the cost of a pint of berries by only 5 cents. "The 20,000 California straw- berry workers receive about 10 cents per pint at the current piece rate, according to the insti- tute. Increasing that to 15 cents or by 50 percent -- would only cost 5 cents, the study says. Sister Cafferty, Bishop McCarthy and dozens of oth- ers at the Washington press conference signaled their sup- port for the campaign by sign- ing a large sheet ,listing the campaign's goals: -- A living wage. Health insurance. -- An end to sexual harass- ment. --An end to arbitrary firings. -- Clean drinking water and bathrooms. "Our Catholic faith strongly affirms the dignity of the indi- vidual person and the dignity of work," the bishop told Catholic News Service after signing up. "And any time we are confront- ed with a situation that denies those natural rights to dignity and economic justice ' the church will be supportive of any and all efforts (to achieve justice)," he added. Rodriguez said supporters of efforts to achieve union con- tracts for the strawberry work- era will not be straw aged to talk to their local the "Five CentS'! campaign. The effort ly on ifornia law to tions, he said. "After UFW at three companies, the plowed under ers and shut rather than unior pressure the industry so t in good win union vote for Bishop's sc The following activities and events are ule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: i State of th .J u Evansville, Saturday, Nov. 23, of the Diocese Address at 3 p. Bishop Chatard Medal ; ] Bishop Chatard High School Monaay, 2i x:s0 : Priests' Prayer Day, Sarto Dec, 4, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, CST. : Council of Priests Agenda ter, conference room, Wednesday, Dec.. Provincial Gathering, 4:30 p.m. EST.