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November 27, 1992     The Message
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November 27, 1992
 

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27, 1992 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 3 ._ Assembly of Families Conference puts ecological crisis within moral realm record-breaking crowd of rupts the already powerless tions, only four months after is a symbol of our relation- that can maintain the conti- and poor of the world, yet the good God is supposed to take care of everything as always while we go about our daily family lives," said Roque and Teresita Magno, a Philippine sociologist-scientist team who addressed the fifth World Assembly of Families held in Merida, Mexico from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2. The assembly was spon- sored by the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements, a non- governmental organization recognized by the United Na- OVer 400 parent and clergy representatives from family organizations on six conti- nents sat in shocked silence they heard fact after fact out environmental degrada- ti0n all over the world -- even in its remotest corners. "Cancer from mishandled nu- clear power plants is now the Cond leading cause of death mo.eria, Mount Everest is decrmng the highest garbage Unap in the world, and we are losing 17 million hectares frainforest every year. "White collar greed cor- i Marijo a " d .... ntl Darka Zivkovic, of Zagreb, Croatia, are intro- ;;a. to the World. Assembly by Jacinto Gonzalez of Madrid, n The Zlvkovlcs are active in famd" y mmlstr" " y m' Croaha" and said they intend to introduce the Christian Family Move- rnent in their own war-torn country and in neighboring coun- tries Which had been under communist control. the UN's Earth summit. Wayne and Sue Hamilton, ICCFM Presidents from Ann Arbor, Mich., explained why twice the number of expected parent and clergy representa- tives traveled from 20 coun- tries, including Croatia, Malawi, Honduras and the U.S. to participate in the five- day working conference. "People came here -- many at great personal sacrifice and even risk -- to get the often- repressed facts about the state of the environment in our re- spective countries, learn what the criteria are for making a moral judgment, and finding ways to act on a grassroots level back home." Tom and Vernie Dale, from Mount Clemens, Mich., helped plan the assembly. In a recent statement issued by their organization, they de- scribed the early reaction to the conference focus on the environment. "At first some of our mem- ber countries didn't under- stand what ecology had to do with Christian families," they said. "But we felt we had to get the message of the Earth Summit down into the lives of ordinary parents raising the next generation," they continued. "Our members are now be- ginning to understand that (talnaging the enviromnent is a moral issue, a real sin deeply ingrained in our atti- tudes and in our institu- tions," the Dales said. "Even though John Paul II in the 1990 World Day of Peace message put the ecological crisis directly within the moral realm, our churches are silent. We felt the interna- tional CFM had to speak out." Their thoughts were rein- forced at the conference. "Christian family groups must begin to awaken to the fact that ecological issues are justice issues, that our symbi- otic relationship with nature ship to each other and to God," said Roque and Tere- sita Magno, among the main speakers selected to reflect the perspectives of Asia and Latin America, as well as North America. All three fol- lowed the "observe, judge, and act" methodology popu- larized by CFM all over the world. The Magnos helped the assembly "observe" by providing scientific ecologi- cal facts, and Dr. Kenneth Weare, a moral theologian from the University of Day- ton, provided criteria to help families "judge" the issues. "How can we, as members of Christian families, make moral judgements about eco- logical issues?" Weare asked. "This is directly related to what I call the ecology of the family. In the United States today, young people believe that being a good parent means providing lots of good- ies. Flush with cash but pressed for time, parents opt for disposable everything. We as families of the world must make moral judgements with an ecological consciousness, as if the fate of the world de- pended on us  because it does." Rafael Robles de Benito, a biologist and Secretary of Ecology for the State of Yu- catan in Mexico, received a standing ovation for his talk on what actions could be taken. One thing, he said. was to get our definitions right. "Ignorance and half-baked knowledge signal real dan- gers," said Rohles. "For exam- ple, we talk about 'harming the ecology' or 'destroying the ecology.' Ecology is a sci- ence which studies the rela- tionships between living be- ings and their environment, not a synonym for 'environ- merit."' The participation of what the United Nations calls "Non-Governmental Organi- zations" is "the only thing nutty of governmental pro- grams that protect the envi- ronment," Robles said. "Governments come and go, but ecological timespans are longer than political ones." Families are crucial in edu- cating children to love na- ture, in demanding more and better urban waste manage- ment, in making sure envi- ronmental programs aren't "budget Cinderellas," and in recovering a "clean and vital use of our senses to appreci- ate our world." The assembly also featured three different "'exposure tours" in which delegates vis- ited sites of environmental significance. One was a salt marsh near the Gulf of Mex- ico that was being polluted by progress, Another was Dzilbilchaltun, a Mayan archeological zone located near a state forest, and the third was the farming cooper- ative of Xcanatun that created some of the best soil in the area through recycling. The conference concluded with continental and national CFM leaders meeting to de- cide on local actions and a mass signing of an earth covenant. Founded in 1967 by cou- ples from Spain, Latin Amer- ica and the United States, the ICCFM is an ecumenical orga- nization that represents about 120,000 couples, chaplains, and single parents in 40 countries. It is recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and as a Non-Govern- mertal Organization by the UN. The Christian Family Movement was formerly ac- tive throughout the Diocese of Evansville. Currently, CFM groups are meeting at four parishes  St. Benedict, Evansville; St. Joseph, Van- derburgh County; Resurrec- tion, Evansville, and Sts. Peter and Paul, Haubstadt. Poatino and Teresa Moyo of Malawi, delegates representing the continent of Africa, carry in a basket containing written Promises to work for environmental and family issues. They were Joined during the Nov. 2 liturgy by representatives of NOrth America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Oceania -- all Carrying to the altar similar promises made by the family representatives of countries on their continents. Leaderaifid plahnei of the World Assembly of Families, In Merida, Mexico. bow their heads in prayer. The World Assembly, Oct. 29 through Nov. 2. was attended by representatives of 20 countries where the Christian Family Movement is active. Among persons at the head table were, at right, Father Samuel Palmer, of Des Moines, Iowa, who is the international chaplainl, and Wayne and Sue llamilton, standing next to Father Palmer. The Ilamiitnns, of Ann Arbor, Mich., were re-elected to a second three-year term as presidents of the International Conference of Christian Family Movements. -- Message photos , Paul R. tetngang -