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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 11, 1987     The Message
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December 11, 1987

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Editorial The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana December 11, 1987 4: By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor Touching people in a very simple way Christmas was celebrated in a fast food store parking lot in Evansville last week. And a kind of communion took place, not with bread and wine, but with a pair of used work boots. A parking lot may seem to be an unlikely place to celebrate the coming of the Son of God. It only seems unlikely. And the pair of boots brought about much more than just a symbolic unity. One part of the story begins in Evansville at the Catholic Center, where the Message and other diocesan offices are located. The other part of the story begins in the home of a family of four. At the Catholic Center, the telephone switchboard is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday. Before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. a feature on the Center telephone system allows anyone in the Center to answer an incoming phone call, at any available phone. After-hours callers are sometimes polite, sometimes irate. Some are puzzled; some, con- fused. One recent caller asked about obtaining "a bible my daughter can understand." She was refer- red to a religious book and supply store. Another caller, fearing the worst, asked for someone to check on the well-being of a certain priest of the diocese; the caller reported that the priest was home, but would not or could not answer his phone. A quick investigation found the priest to be alive and not in need of emergency care. No reason was found for the unanswered phone calls. A few calla are unusual; many are routine, seeking a Mass schedule or an address, or trying to contact a diocesan staff member. The call which is important to this Christmas story, however, was not routine. It came from a woman whose family needed help, and it was answered by a. woman who provided it. The caller said her husband had been out of work and the family had just a few dollars left. Her husband had been called to report for work the next morning at 6 o'clock, she said, but he wouldn't be allowed on the job site without work boots. A person who answered such a telephone call might be forgiven for asking, "Why didn't you think about it sooner, when charitable offices are open?" That is not the response, however, in our Christmas story. The woman who responded to the caller is an employee of the diocese; her home is about a half- hour drive from the Catholic Center. She didn't question the caller's honesty, she did not doubt her motives nor did she chide the caller for such a lack of planning in asking for help after office hours. Her first question was the bluntest expres- sion of human concern, "What size boots does he need?" She had already made up her mind what to do, without doubt or hesitation or fear of being conned by someone who could easily have had more worldly goods than she and her family possessed. She trusted the caller, and told her that she knew what it was like to experience unemploy- ment and need. The reason she wanted to know the size was that she thought one of her sons might have a pair of boots that would do, and she wasn't about to drive all the way home and back -- wasting gasoline money and time -- to get a pair of boots that didn't fit the man who needed them. It was such an unlikely possibility. The boots available in a home a half hour away were size seven-and-one-half -- and hardly worn at all because they were too small for the son. It was such an unlikely possibility that such small boots would fit the husband of the woman who called. But they did. Arrangements were made on the phone, to meet in person at a parking lot that night. The boots were brought by the woman and her husband, to be received by the family of the man who needed them. It was such an unlikely scene for Christmas. Two cars in a parking lot. A couple in one car the classified ads would describe as "runs good." A family in an "older model" subcompact with card- board for one of the windows. Two small children were there, to watch thei dad receive a gift. Perhaps the bond that was created in this mo- ment of Christmas only looked like a pair of boots. It was much, much more, this gift -- more than material goods, more than time. It.was a gift of self. Was it an unlikely scene for Christmas? No more unlikely than a stable. Washington Letter Supreme Court nominee and issue of abortion By pJLIE ASHER NC News Service WASHINGTON (NC) -- Just how U.S. Supreme Court nominee Anthony M. Kennedy would resolve the key issue of abortion as a justice of the high court is not easy to predict. Kennedy, a Catholic, has not ruled in any abortion-related cases during his 12-year tenure on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of ' Appeals. Any remarks he may have made in speeches or articles on the subject also have not surfac- ed. Also not known are his views of school prayer and church- state relations, other issues of concern to Catholics. Kennedy, described as con- servative but balanced and cautious, has written more than 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except lut week In December by the Catholic Preu of Evansville. Publisher ........ Bi=hop Francis R. Shell Auoctate Publisher .... Roy. Jcaeph Zlllak Editor .................. Paul Lelngang Circulation Mgr....Mrs. Role Montmetetle Productlo Mgt ............... Phil Boger Advertising Mgr .............. . D,,h H0rty Address ell communications to P.O. Box 416R, Evanlvllle, IN 47711. Phone (812) 424-6536. Subscription rate: $1 5 per year Entered as 2rid clus matter at the poet of- rice in Evansville, IN 47701. Publication number 843800. Po=tma=ter: Return POD form= 3579 to the Office of Publlostlon. 400 legal opinions dealing with issues such as civil rights, the death penalty, prisoners' rights, free speech and free press and equal pay. ,Considered his most impor- tant ruling is a 1980 decision striking down the "legislative veto" used by the U.S. House and Senate. He ruled that one- house vetoes of administrative decisions were unconstitu- tional. The Supreme Court upheld his position in 1983. His opinions -- 335 of them were majority opinions -- as well as about 20 speech texts provided by the Reagan ad- ministration to the Senate Judiciary Committee, will pro- vide the basis for questioning at confirmation hearings schedul- ed to begin Dec. 14. Much speculation has arisen about his judicial view of the right to privacy -- the under- inning of Roe vs. Wade, the ndmark 1973 Supreme Court decision which struck down state abortion laws. The speculation has focused on his 1980 decision in Beller vs. Middendorf, in which he upheld the Navy's policy of honorably discharging three Sailors discovered to be homosexuals. In the ruling Kennedy refus- ed to extend the right to privacy to protect those sailors discharged from the Navy. At the time he also said he was on- ly ruling on the legality, not the wisdom of the policy. Reagan's first nominee for the Supreme Court post, Judge Robert E. Bork, was alternately Letter to the editor I Fr. Dilger commentary welcomed To the editor, years of study! For some weeks, I've in- tended to write you of my ap- preciation for the additions you've brought to The Message. Specifically, I find the histories and pictures of the parishes around the diocese most in- teresting. Secondly and more importantly, I welcome the Gospel Commentary from Father Don Dilger which is presented in such a way as to enlighten our understanding of scripture, challenge us to learn more, and smile during the pro- cess. How fortunate we are to share in the fruits of his many I also want to express support for some of the thoughts ex- pressed in last week's letter to the editor from Connie Sbafer of Washington, In., who so ably put into words her experience of the developing awareness and sense of responsibility of the laity. It seemed to me that she was encouraging the clergy to recognize and welcome these as signs of moving toward com- munities of more mature Chris- tians. I couldn't agree more! blasted and backed -- before his rejection by the Senate -- for his view that there is no con- stitutional basis for the right to privacy and therefore no sup- portable "constitutional reasoning" underlying Roe vs. Wade. IN HIS 1980 ruling in the homosexuality case Kennedy recognized the "need for discipline and order" in the military and said the regulation on homosexuality "represents a reasonable effort to accom- modate the needs of the govern- ment with the interests of the individual." He stated that upholding the constitutionality of the regula- tions was based on unique military needs and differed from "what might be constitu- tionally protected activity in some other contexts." Kennedy also referred to Roe vs. Wade and decisions that upheld the privacy of marital relations (Griswold vs. Connec- ticut, 1965} and the right of pro- creation (Skinner vs. Oklahoma, 1942}. "We recognize, as we must, that there is substantial academic comment which argues that the choice to engage in homosexual action is a per- sonal decision," he added, but said there was "substantial authority to the contrary." In a 1986 speech on "unenumerated rights," in- cluding the right to sexual privacy, Kennedy warned against "undue judicial ac- tivism" in this area, which he said could undermine represen- tative government and the Mary Ann Schultheis Evansville, Ind. court's claim of neutrality. Pro-life reaction to Kennedy's nomination has been mixed. The president of the American Life League, Judie Brown, expressed apprehen- sion and said Kennedy's pass- ing reference to Roe vs. Wade in the 1980 Navy case was "not qualified and leads us to be suspicious." However, another pro-life group, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, gave Kennedy support. League associate general counsel Walter Weber said Dec. 3 he felt "hopeful" Kennedy would be confirmed, and said "the only way Roe vs. Wade would stand is if we have ac- tivist liberal judges. So, unless Kennedy is of that school, he ought to be opposed to Roe vs. Wade." Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, also backed Kennedy and said the 1980 rul- ing "reveals little one way or the other" about Kennedy's abortion views. Civil rights groups have criticized some Kennedy rul- ings and wondered about his sensitivity to discrimination cases, although he has ruled both for and against civil rights plaintiffs in such cases. In 1985 he wrote the first ma- jor appellate decision rejecting equal pay for women in historically low-paid jobs that are of "comparable worth" to higher paid jobs held by men.