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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 25, 1987     The Message
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December 25, 1987

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4 Editorial The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana December 25, 1987 x,i. By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor Reflections at Christmas time: revelation is a gift of God I am a 1974 Mercury. You may think such a statement is odd, but it is really not. Especially not at Christmas time. I am a 1974 Mercury, at least that's what the man at the service station said, when I walked in the other night to ask for professional help. I had brought my car to the same garage previously, for other services, so I was familiar to the people who worked there. Or rather, my car was. "I can't get my car started," I had said. "You're the 1974 Mercury, aren't you?" he replied. "What's wrong?" Our conversation soon led to a solution, but it took a tow truck to rescue me, and get me going again. Being a car is not a Very pleasant experience. Philosophers with fundamental questions about existence should ask for answers at the ser- vice station. It would be wonderful if all of us knew so clearly who we are. I have had a lot of help, lately, in finding out who I am. I met two people at my son's wrestling competition; I told them who I was -- I am Matt's dad. I met another father at my younger son's basketball practice; I told him I was Ben's dad. Each year seems to bring an increased awareness that other people experience my family through others in it -- not through me. A lot of people know something about my family because they know a son of mine. My children have become the medium through which I get to meet other people, and the way they get to know me. My children have some good friends. I like them, too. Being someone's father is much better than be- ing identified by the kind of car I own. If it were a Jaguar or a Porsche, maybe I wouldn't mind being linked to it -- but no matter how expensive the car might be, it is still a possession. No possession -- no material thing -- is capable of representing me to other people, especially to people I love. These thoughts of mine are not original. God had them first. The material world reveals his creative force, but it is not enough. The elements reveal his power, as fierce as lightning, as warm as sunshine, but it is not enough. A chosen people rescued from slavery shows his care and concern, but it is not enough. God is described as a mother hen watching over her brood, but such an image of a caring God is not enough. God is described as walking in the Garden with Adam and Eve, but such companion- ship with the people he loves was not enough. Moses spoke with God face to face, but such in- timacy was not enough. Jesus was born, a baby in a broken world. It is enough. God continues to be revealed in creation and power, in rescue from slavery, in the natural love of a mother, in companionship and in face to face conversation. But even beyond all of this is the revelation accomplished in God's son, in Jesus -- in his birth, death and resurrection. Christmas reminds us that we are revealed, too, by the things we have. By the power we have or do not have. By the care we show others, or do not show. By our choice of companions and friends. By those with whom we allow the in- timacy of a face to face conversation. By our children, the lives they live with us and apart from us, and the people they touch. Christmas reminds us that the work of revela- tion continues in us, in our world -- through us, to the world. Revelation is a gift, of God among US. Vatican Letter Bantering with the press: a cardinal's infrequent pastime By AGOSTINO BONO NC News Service ROME (NC} -- Cardinal Agostino Casaroli's face broke into a smile and he nodded in recognition as he passed the group of religious news writers lined up alongside the front pew to attend his Mass. For the Vatican secretary of state,.this meant he would soon engage in one of his favorite, but infrequent, pastimes: bantering with the press. For journalists it would be a rare opportunity to question the Vatican official second in power only to Pope John Paul II. The event also provides a chance for Cardinal Casaroli to combine his diplomat's caution with his natural instinct to be talkative. This combination in- cludes being chatty without saying much, hinting at church policy without spelling it out in easily quotable catch phrases, and avoiding questions by laughingly complaining that 00Lessaoe 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. Publisher ........ Bishop Francis R. She-, Associate Publisher .... Ray. JoNph Ziliak Editor .................. Paul Lelngang Circulation Mgr.... Mrs. Rose Morttrutelle Production Mgr ............... Phil Boger Advertising Mgr ............... Dan Horty Addreu all communications to P.O Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47711. Phone (812) 424-5536. Subscription rate: $15 par year Entered as 2nd class matter at the post of- flce in Evansville, IN 47701. Publication number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to the Office of Publication. journalists are trying to put words in his mouth. Bantering with the press is a skill the cardinal developed during his 47 years as a Vatican diplomat, much of it as the ar- chitect of Vatican relations with Soviet-bloc countries, when he built up confidential relation- ships with many Italian jour- nalists to whom he would pro- vide background information as long as they did not use his name. Both sides used the Italian approach of handling touchy subjects by talking be- tween the lines and continually surrounding the conversation with jokes and quips. It would be left up to the journalist to draw conclusions. This situation continues at the press conferences, with Italian journalists taking the lead in asking questions. These informal press con- ferences occur once a year, after the cardinal celebrates Mass for the Union of Italian Catholic Businessmen, of which he is the spiritual adviser. The an- nual Mass is held at Rome's Holy Apostles Basilica, and the date varies depending on the cardinal's busy schedule. This year the Mass was held Dec. 13, and the press con- ference began in the sacristy when about 10 journalists crowded around the cardinal as soon as he finished taking off his Mass vestments. The cardinal was in good form. When asked if the pope would visit the Soviet Union soon, he snapped: "But you are saying this." THE CARDINAL then paused and added: "I'm curious to hear what newspapers think because sometimes they have intuitions for news that escape those who are in the control rooms." This was interpreted to mean that the pope would probably visit the Soviet Union, but the trip was still several years away. In reference to Vatican efforts to improve relations with China, Cardinal Casaroli was asked if he was studying Chinese. "It's difficult to learn the language. It's hard to unders- tand in this language if you are saying 'to put' or 'to lose,'" he said. "I'll wait until the govern- ment Latinizes the alphabet. After, we'll see," he continued. This was interpreted to mean that some headway is being made but significant im- provements are a long way off. The 73-year-old cardinal also hinted that these press con- ferences may soon be coming to an end because his retirement date is approaching. In July 1989, his second five-year term as secretary of state expires, several months before he reaches the age of 75, when Vatican officials are required to submit their resignations to the pope. "There are deadlines which objectively exist," he said when asked if he would be leav- ing office soon. "Sometimes answers come when you are least thinking of it, as my fall in New York," he added. The cardinal was referring to his fall down the stairs in Oc- tober 1985 while staying at the Holy See mission to the United Nations. He injured his spleen and had to be taken to a hospital to have it removed. His answer was interpreted as meaning the cardinal would leave when he reaches retire- ment age because of his health. Such press conferences have been a fixture since the cardinal became secretary of state in 1979 and reporters discovered the Mass as a public event where they could lie in wait for the policy maker. Informality has also been a fixture. Some years the press conference has extended beyond the sacristy as reporters kept stride with the cardinal down a long hallway to a side room, where the businessmen have prepared a reception for the Vatican official. Why do journalists do this? Because the cardinal and the pope are the only two officia, responsible for supervising they whole range of church ac- tivities. Cardinal Casaroli is coordinator of Vatican agencies and is responsible for the Vatican's relations with na- tional hierarchies and govern- ments. I To the editor, The State of Indiana is offer- ing public school children enrichment opportunities through the Governor's A, plan. This educaton program pro- vides a school system with 1) a statewide testing system, ISTEP, 2) a summer remedia- tion program, 3) help for at-risk students, 4)greater use of technology and computers. These enrichment oppor- tunities are not being offered to parochial school and other private school children. An ex- ample is the ISTEP test, which is mandatory for non-public schools wating to be state ac- credited. Catholic and other private schools need to pur- chase these tests, pay for a scor- ing service and are not permit- ted to attend the summer school sessions. Should non-public school children be penalized and denied state-funded programs because of their parents' choice of a school? It is our conviction that all of Indiana's children should be treated equally in the quest for academic excellence. Parochial school parents make financial sacrifices to pay school tuitions. They are also citizens and taxpayers who as a group contribute a sizeable sum to the education of public school children. f Letter to the editor It is expedient at this time that Catholic parents and educators rally together to voice an opinion on this issue. The 1988 State legislative session begins in early January at which time final details of the A, plan will be worked out. We urge you to write to Stephen Gabet, representative, who is the ranking majority member of the Education Com- mittee. Ask him to sponsor the A, plan for "all" of Indiana's, children in the upcoming legislative sessions. His address is: 401-3 State House, In- dianapolis, In 46204. You may call his toll-free number 1-800-382-9841 to voice your opinion. Also please contact Gee. Robert D. err, State House, Room 206, Indianapolis, In 46204 about our concerns. His phone number is 317-232-4567. Hopefully, through the publication of this letter, the Catholic community will res- pond in sufficient number to ef- fect a change in the A, plan so that it will offer educational ex- cellence and equality to "all" of Indiana's children. Sincerely, Home and School Association St. Vincent de Paul School Fort Wayne, In.