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Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
January 17, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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January 17, 1998

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Page 10 Janumy 17, 1998 LI "" ARKANSASt' CATH Page lO lanumy 17, 1998 ..... OLUMNS O" A 7"ebster's Dictionary defines "anniver- VV samT" as I) the date on which some event occurred in an earlier year; 2) the celebration of such an event on that date in following years. Jan. 22, 1998, will be the 25th anniver- sary of the U. S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision making abortion legal through all nine months of a pregnancy. How do you "celebrate" the "anniversary" of the death of more than 37 million babies? The Viemam War lasted 10 years and we lost more than 58,000 dedicated Ameficam -- a deep and lasting tragedy. Today 61,000 babies die fi'om abortion every 14 days in the war against the un- born and our nation does not mourn or even acknowledge them. So, how do we "celebrate" this "anniversary?" With deep sorrow, sadness, shame for our nation and a strong resolve to do what it takes to stop the taking 'of innocent human life --our most precious gift from God. Twenty-five years ago we were told this "right" would give "freedom" to women, fewer unwanted or abused children, less poverty among women and children, and less teen pregnancy. Let's examine more closely those promises. O Freedom for women: As director of Project Rachel, I can tell firsthand of the pain and sad- ness I hear from someone who has experienced the "freedom" of abor- tion. Their lives are in shambles --- troubled marriages and relationships, destructive behav- ior, and the most troubling is bro- ken relationships with their Lord Anne Dierks and Church. They have been sold a lie that abortion is the "quick, easy fix," and since it is legal, everyone is doing and con- doning it, it's an easy option. Fewer unwanted and abused chil- dren: Child abuse has increased almost 500 percent since 1973. Less poverty among women and children? The num- ber of both has steadily increased since 1973. And, do we even need to mention teen pregnancy --- 49.2 per 1,000 in 1973, almost doubling to 99.2 per 1000 in 1990! The promises of Roe are indeed empty. Should the above numbers be reason for despair or to give up hope of chang- ing laws and attitudes which prevail to- day? Before we answer that question let's look at some other "happenings" in the past 25 years. In that quarter century, millions of men and women have worked, without compensation, m make the nation aware of the horrors of abortion. They have peacefully marched in extreme cold or heat, spoken to countless millions, lob- bied rude and abrasive legislators, suf- fered physical abuse at the hands of law enforcement, and suffered constant, un- told verbal abuse from "friends," neigh- bors, relatives, and, pardcularly, from the national media. Did they give up? No. And with what results? Laws have been passed such as in- formed consent, parental notification, parental consent, funding and, most re. cenfly, the partial-birth abortion ban. Because of the persistence in getting the truth out about partial-birth abortions, Americans have been forced to actually look at what takes place during an abor- tion. It has been a teaching moment, let- ting the nation, who thought abortion was only legal during the first trimester when that being expelled was only the "prod- uct of conception" or a "mass of tissue," learn that now babies are stabbed in the head with scissors and their brains sucked out in the final two't 'imesters. Beca4 F this, Americanslwho believe "abo~ should belegal under any circumst has dropped by 10 percent. IA In 1997 the 3,200 to 3,400 plac XJ help women in a crisis pregnancy mov numbered the 2,380 places u clia clon doctors offices and hospitals that rum vide abortions. The best news is gan the fifth straight year the number hun dons lias dropped. How can we give: Wilr with such success? whel Archbishop Frands George of Chi to o said, "To cooperate willingly in ed N morally wrong, and our present laws ra sino us all at least passive cooperators in! says crime of abortion." For the future { tors erations of Americans, our children, imp grandchildren, their children, can,i infe! condone or be passive about the sl~ half ter of innocent babies? With prayer L-___, courage we mdst stand up and.r counted. Sunday, Jan. 18 you will chance at the March for Life in dd K, town Little Rock. Let's change what John Paul I1 cal2ed the "culture of de| lldll, back into the culture of life" and that legacy to future generations. Anne Dierks is the director of the Respea Life Office. She has worked life movement for 15 years. series deals with nothing sacred, but everything sarcastic I_ inng worked as both a lawyer and I think the Catho- er-city priest, I think I am qthali- lic League iswrong fled to say that ABC television's "Nothing to try to get the Sacred" is just about as accurate a depiction show pulled from of priestly life as q..A. Law" was of big dty the air. lawyers. Which is to say, not very. But what seems Don't misunderstand me. I don't dis- unreal about the like the show. Hollywood is Hollywood. show are two We have to expect them to juice things things: details and up a bit. And, given the time constraints tone. of a one.hour TV drama, situations that" The series raad- might play out over months necessarily deningly never on cynicism. I know they are trying to be is against the rules," says one older funny, but it has a certain tone which lacks sarcastically. , . : FI both sympathy and charity for what the 'Why not? responds the series' h~ | ".. Church is trying to do, Father Ray. "Nobody believes you an -y tostatl The show is cynical about the Church's Now there is a definition of prea. [~s also teaching in general and the integrity of I hadn't thought of: lying to unbelie~th u her ministers in particular, especially the Of course, everybody has period/ o hierarchy. In the confessional Father says, doubt, but Father _,R~ay seems const~. Thi "Do you want to know what the Church by them. He doesnt even believe h~iown thinks or what I think~" implying that what honest. When Father Leo, a senior p~y a s- the Church says is, of course, wrong, in the .rectory, asks Father Ray ifeol When a chancery official later appears upset, Ray responds, Every choice 'hite are compressed so they come to an un- seems to get any of PAR,/SH Dtaaron screen in a Kafka-like setting, we are ever made in my life is wrong." issen natural conclusion before the credits role. the liturgical details Ft. Peter Dab, practically invited to "hiss." Any conserva- Even prayer is dismissed. When Fa annot Nor do I mind the problems the series right. Father Ray ..... tive or traditional Catholic is portrayed as Leo finds Father Ray sitting in the cht - depicts. Good drama requires some con- never wears the rigid or out of touch, late at night, ~e younger priest saY~jus~'cqe flicL And, after all, in real life priests do proper vestments or says the real words. Priests on the show, especially the star, him, 'You won t like what I'm pra She sometimes question their vocations. Some- For example, instead of the words of are always sarcastic. At one point the young for, Leo;" . Athe r, times they even take up with their ex-girl- consecration in the first episode, he sub- parish secretary notices this ,and says, "Why "That s all right, res nds Father po peect friends, as the series hero, Father Ray, sfituted, "May you transform us" as you is everything a joke to you? But sarcasm "God never gives you what you want decisk did m the first episode, transform these gifts, into life deep and distorts truth and destroys faith, wav" ~h: 7" J: till, There are ideological conflicts on par- true." In the fast episode we were taken to a Perhaps not, but that does notHe ish staffs and in the community. While What? priestly poker game. The priests were we receive nothing. Sometimes God 6ourt we may not like to see dirty linen aired in As for tone, the series has an atmo- discussing preaching. "You are never sup- us something better. Certainly better t ation, public, the story lines are not far fetched, sphere of unrelieved sarcasm, bordering posed to tell the truth from the pulpit. It what we're getting on "Nothing Sacr judici; ...... ext Wh Tooday, I want to tell you two stories. r, maybe, it's just one. Here is a fable. There once lived in a village a man whose body was so twisted and whose face was so di gured that the townspeople laughed at him. The chil- dren teased him. The dogs barked at him. The man became so embittered that he left the little town where he had been born and went deep into the forest, where he lived alone. There he found a measure of solace in the beauty of sunrise and sunset, in the soft dghing of the breeze in the trees, in the frolic of tbe forest creanlres, in the sweet song of the birds in the air. Still the bit- tenm only softened. It did not go away. One day, a visitor came into the hermit's hut. AS they sat down together to a modest meal, the hermit asked the visitor to offer a prayer. But the visitor mid, "No, you are the master here. It is mint tbe bleming." And the hermit, nervous at first, spoke of his graft- rude for the beauty of the forest and the wonder of na- ture and the nour- ishment they were about to share. Whereupon the visitor said: "You have forgotten one thing. You have forgotten to thank Fr. Thomas J. God for yourself." The hermit looked McSweeney away, saying nothing. The visitor continued: "You have re- treated into the forest because you have despaired of your ugliness. You have for- gotten that in the eyes of God, you are far more beautiful than all the trees and all the flowers and all the birds of the forest." The hermit could not forget those Finally, she says in disgust, "I think words, and in time he moved back to his sign up for staying home!" old home. When you feel like you would But the people no longer laughed sign up for some other life, when when he walked by. The children no experience a dark night of the soul. longer teased him. And his heart sang you feel lost, abandoned, powerless, with joy, for he realized that though he stop. Stop and look at yourself with was living in the same town, with the same eyes. It might feel like the last thing neighbors, even the same dogs, all was are capable of doing when all around different. All was different because he was seems hopeless. But that is when you different. He had learned to thank God need to see yourself the way He does for himself, uniquely beautiful, uniquely lovable. This story comes from a "Peanuts" Lord does not see as mortals see; comic strip. Charlie's Brown's sister, Sally, look on the outward appearance, can't seem to keep from getting lost in Lordlooks on the heart" (1 Samuel her new school surroundings. She discov- See yourself differently and your ers that she has been in the wrong class can -- and will -- be different. for two weeks. When she finds the right thing becomes when you room, she sits at the wrong desk. Shethank God for yourself as you are in thinks she is in the school band for three perfect vision. And when that days, before she discovers that the school you will learn to see others and to doesn't have a band. She can't get her God for others in the same locker open --- and her lunch is inside, ate way.