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December 20, 1996     The Message
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December 20, 1996
 

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- By BRIGID CURTIS Indiana Catholic Conference . .. ho ICC Board sets policy priorities to take to stateh00 in education by supporting the void in Indiana. "Legalizing As the wheels of the Indiana General Assembly begin to turn, the Indiana Catholic Conference Board of Directors targeted five legislative priorities during its Dec. 7 meeting for the Confer- ence to take to the Statehouse. The Board stressed the fol- lowing five priorities: fairness in education, not- ing tile current inequalities between accredited non-public schools and public schools; block grant implementation from a Catholic Charities per- spective; opposition to legalizing sur- rogate parenting contracts; banning partial-birth abor- tions, and, extending funding for farm counseling. The ICC will join the Indiana Non-Public Education Associa- tion to address issues of fairness introduction of legislation on mentor teachers and advanced placement testing. The ICC will also support the free textbook program for students attending accredited, non-public schools. The Church has a long histo- ry of supporting welfare reform, according to M. Desmond Ryan, ICC executive director. He said the ICC will propose a welfare reform plan to the new head of Indiana's Family and Social Ser- vices Administration and to the legislature. That plan calls for innovative programs of assis- tance to the poor which guaran- tee protection for vulnerable children and others in need. Ryan said that the directors of Catholic Charities in Indiana hope to work with the state as partners to help provide for the needs of the poor. The ICC will also oppose legalizing surrogate parenting contracts, which are currently these contracts undermines the sacrament of marriage, encour- ages baby selling and may cause an increase in abortion," said Ryan. Additionally, the ICC will work in coalition to support passing a ban on partial-birth abortion -- a procedure which kills a fully developed baby before its is completely deliv- ered. The ICC will also encour- age the extension of funding for financial counseling for farmers when a foreclosure is eminent. Making up the ICC board are the six active bishops of the state, including Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger, and five lay board members, including Diane Bender of Evansville. In addition to the five priority areas, the board also approved the selection of several issue areas for the ICC to monitor. These issues include property tax assessment, parental rights and responsibilities, capital i iiiii!ii M. Desmond Ryan, ICC executive director, the issue of fairness in education with State tive Dennis Heeke (D-Dubois) during ceedings at the Indiana Statehouse. punishment, required kinder- garten and Medicaid hospice benefits. If immediate action on one or more of these monitored items is necessary, the ICC exec- "utive director will get approval from the Archbishop before The ICC is voice of the Church in Kentucky's bishops reaffirm their opposition to death FRANKFORT, Ky. (CNS)- Kentucky's Catholic bishops have re-issued their 1984 pastoral let- ter opposing the death penalty, saying that "much has changed and yet much has remained the same" on the issue in Kentucky. The bishops, in a letter accom- panying the re-issued pastoral, said three of the 29 men on death row in Kentucky are in their final round of court appeals. Gov. Paul Patton has said he will not use his power to stop executions. "Kentucky's death chamber has been readied for its: first execution since 1962," he said. The bishop's letter said: "We are thus compelled to again spread the church's continued teaching of opposition to the death penalty. We remain hope- ful that through our teachings and re-issuing this pastoral let- ter, that all Kentuckians will reflect on this issue and join with us in our call to end the vio- lence and stop the killing." They said they have been inspired by the example and teachings of Pope John Paul II, who has spoken out against the death penalty and has called for the rejection of "our growing cul- ture of death" in his 1995 encyclical, "The Gospel of Life." The pastoral, entitled "Choose Life: Reflections of the Death Penalty," is being re-issued to mark the 20 years since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated state- sponsored executions, the bish- ops noted. They said more than 350 people have been executed in the United States since 1976. It was first issued in June 1984 by bishops of Louisville, Coving- ton, Lexington and Owensboro. With the re-issuance, the name of Bishop Robert W. Muench, who earlier this year became bishop of Covington, was added to the document. Other current bishops who signed it were Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly of Louisville; retired Auxiliary Bishop Charles G. Maloney of Louisville; Bishop J. Kendrick Williams of Lexing- ton; and Bishop John J. McRaith of Owensboro. "We are opposed to capital punishment simply because it deliberately ends human life and thus threatens the sanctity and dignity of all human life," the pastoral says. While acknowledging "sincere differences of opinion" among people on the issue, the bishops write: "We see out rejection of capi- tal punishment as part of the church's opposition to every attack upon human life. It is in line with the struggle against abortion, against euthanasia, against the destruction of a nuclear war. We proclaim the sacredness not only of innocent life but even of the life of the guilty." The pastoral examines the reasons for punishment and con- cludes that "under the circum- stances prevailing in society today, the death penalty as pun- ishment for reasons of deter- rence, retribution, or the pro- tection of society cannot be justified." Concerning retribution, the pastoral notes that "many use the Bible to justify the use of vengeance" but adds that there is stronger scriptural support for mercy and forgiveness. Other problems with capital punishment mentioned in the pastoral include of mistake; punishment" due "random a "discr cation." in the electric tucky State Eddyville in Chiles, executive  Catholic tucky, said in the final appeals, there cution in 1997. Chiles said make an an execution is The lished in a broC a study education tucky is distributing it Father lets go of hatred toward daughter's ki By ROY J. HORNER Catholic News Service LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS) -- It took faith, fortitude and nine years of spiritual wandering. But Paul Stevens finally man- aged to pull himself out of the emotional morass of hatred in which he found himself after his daughter's murder in 1969. The turning point, he said, was the "walk with the Lord" he made at a Cursillo retreat in 1978. Finally letting go of the feel- ings of bitterness, anger and hatred he had toward his daughter's killer was a spiritual experience, recalled Stevens, 75, in an interview with The Record, newspaper of the Louisville Archdiocese. His change of heart has made him an outspoken opponent of not only chpital punishment but of any other attack against all forms of human life, from the unborn to the elderly. "I'm against anything that takes human life, whether it be abortion, euthanasia or the death penalty," he said. "I'm just against anyone taking another person's life." Stevens, a member of Resur- rection Catholic Church in Daw- son Springs, was one of the Catholics who spoke at the statewide anti-death penalty rally held Dec. 11 in Frankfort, Kentucky's state capital. For the past 11 years, Stevens has been a chaplain in prison ministry at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville. Stevens reaches out to the inmates on death row by seeing Priest lends voice in opposing capital punishment By JOHN It. KARMAN HI Catholic News Service LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS)- While the vast majority of Ken- tuckians may see .the 29 men who live on Kentucky's death row as nameless, faceless killers, that's not the case for Father Richard Sullivan. The Louisville archdiocesan priest, who is serng in the Lex- ington Diocese, is the boyhood friend of one of those men, Frank Tamme, who has been on death row since 1984, convicted of a double murder in Washing- ton County. Father Sullivan grew up with Tamme in Danville, where the priest is currently assigned to Sts. Peter and Paul Church. Both attended school at that parish and both continued on to Danville High School. After his ordination, Father Sullivan would sometimes see Tamme when he visited his hometown. In prison Tamme maintains his innocence in the double mur- ders, Father Sullivan said. But whether he is guilty or not, the priest believes, Tamme does not deserve to die -- nor does any- one living on death row. "Even if he committed the murders, I'm just totally opposed to the death penalty no matter what the circumstances are," Father Sullivan said in an interview with The Record, Louisville's Catholic newspaper. "I just think it's the wrong mes- sage for us as a society. We're stooping to the level of what those people have done." Father Sullivan also knows Tamme's family and occasional- ly sees them in Danville. He said the death sentence is particu- larly hard on Tamme's mother. 'It think that really has impact- ed me so strongly lately," the priest said. "It is such a horrible sentence against (the family)." If Tamme were to die in another way, life would proba- bly continue normally for his mother after a period of griev- ing. Christ in each of them. He does not coddle them or condone their crimes but sees each one as a child of God. "I tell them each time I go to services with them that I love them," Stevens said. "And I do love them because they are chil- dren of God. I know it's hard for people to understand that but I've seen them change too." Stevens said he knows pre- cisely the bitter odyssey of par- ents who experience the murder of a child. However, as much as he might have wanted in the past, he now has no desire to be party to a death wish. For years Stevens douldn't bear to be in Evansville, where his daughter was murdered 27 years ago. He said he still occa- sionally has problems with the images of the tragedy flashing through his mind. He dispels those thoughts by reciting a short prayer he learned at the Cursillo. "To get things off my mind I say, 'Jesus I love you,'" Stevens said. "I say it over and over." The healing process begins "when you start doing what you're supposed to be doing -- really what the Lord wants you to do,  he said. "Once you're able to do that . . . the healing is going to be there." He added, "The Lord wants us to visit the naked, feed the the poor, When you these people Christ. He's Stevens against part of his state does not kill. "The right U ception to how long, right to life of who they right to take Stevens bel take a how that conversion into heaven. "You don't anyone's life change or have to change," at St. Paul .... had come and revenge what he wouldn't be he? "I'm not Stevens said, to do the the Lord better than I've changed