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Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
April 14, 1991     Arkansas Catholic
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April 14, 1991

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PAGE 2 ARKANSAS CATHCg.IC Apdl 14, 1991 Does the Roman Catholic Rite of Exor- cism belong on a 26-minute tele~ion re- port.> That question surrounded last week's airing of a "20/20" segment which showed excerpts from an actual exordsm per- formed on a 16year-old girl. The Church leaders who approved the filming said they hoped that going public with the exorcism would help convince people that the devil is real and active in the late 20th century. Further, they wanted to tell people who might be experiendng demonic harrassment that the Church is available to help. Critics said that the nature of exorcism, and perhaps the whole field of demonol- ogy, is highly open to abuse, and that it should be kept on an individual plane; further, they said, the filming was an inva- sion of the girl's privacy. To their credit, Hugh Downs and the '~0/20" crew produced as balanced and careful a view of exorcism as is possible in 26 minutes. Downs appeared to be visibly affected by the proceedings, and he was more than generous in his altitude toward the Church and the validity of its ancient Rite of Exorcism. For centuries, exorcism was used on per- sons suffering physcial and psychological maladies ranging from epilepsy to schizo- phrenia. With the advance of medicine and psychiatry, the practice of exorcism fell into virtual disuse. Today, although the Church still exer- cises the rite, the declaration of demonic possession and subsequent exorcism is ex- ceedingly rare, and usually carded out in tandem with psychiatric care. Whether or not exorcism is a proper subject for a TV show is a matter of debate, but the "20/20" segment left one indisput- able impression: faith and science are still wrangling with each other, but faith has more experience. DKH ARKANSAS CATHOLIC Js published 48 times a year, for $15 per year, by the Catholic Diocese of L~lle Rock, Admnea= ~, Inc., P.O. Box 7417, 2500 N. Titter St., Little Rock. AR 72217. (501} 664-0340 [FAX 6~-9o7sl. PUBLISHER Most Rev. Andrew J. McDonald. Bishop MANAGING EDITOR Rev. Albert J. Schneider i~l IJ /L EDITOR "['C~([]~i" ~1~ Deborah K, Halter I ~,~,~ CIRCULATION MANAGER ~r..~,~.~s.~ Agnes Knittig ~ ADVERTISING MARKETING MANAGER Ron M. Hall ~ PROOUCTION MANAGER Rev. James M. Schtatz EDITORIAL ) PRODUCTION ASSISTANT 3o Marie Smith hird chu~ peerage p4dd at ~ Rock, &RL Busineu houm are 8:30 - 4. Monday - Friday. Closed on Ho~ Days att In 1989, only 41 percent of college women used condoms when they had sexual inter- course. Why don't college women and their parmers use condoms? They know about her- pes. They know about genitalwarts and cervi- cal cancer. All the public-health messages of the past 15 years have been sent, and only 41 percent of the college women use condoms. IIIBWI ()IIIW Dr. Robert C. Noble Maybe your brain has to be working to use one. In the heat of passion, the brain shuts down. You have to use a condom every time. Every time. That's hard to do. I can't say I'm comforted reading a government pam- phlet called "Con- donas and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Especially AIDS." 'XT_,ondoms are not 100 percent safe," it says, "but if used properly will reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS." Reduce the risk of a disease that is 100 percent fatal! That's all that's available between us and death? How much do condoms reduce the risk.> They don't say. So much for Safe Sex. Safe Sex was a dumb idea anyway. I've noticed that the catchword now is 'Safer Sex." SO much for truth in advertising. Other nuggets of advice: '~f you know your partner is infected, the best rule is to avoid in- tercom'se (induding oral sex). If you do decide to have sex with an infected parmer, you should always be sure a condom is used from start to fLrfish, every time." Seems reasonable, but is it really helpful? Most folks don't know when their partner is infected. It's not as ff their nose is purple. Lots of men and women with herpes and wart-virus infections are having sex right now lying their heads off to their sexual part- nets--that is, to those who ask. "Condoms may be more likely to break during anal intercourse than during other types of sex..." Condoms also break in heterosexual sex; one study shows a 4 percent breakage rate. "Government testing can not guarantee that condoms will always prevent the spread of sexu- ally transmitted diseases." That's what the pamphlet says. Nobody these days lobbies for abstinence, virginity or single lifetime sexual parmerx That would be boring. Abstinence and sexual inter- course with one mutually faithful uninfected partner are the only totally effective preven- tion strategies. That's from another recently published government report. What am I going to tell my daughters? I'm going to tell them that condoms ,give a false sense of security and that having sex is danger- ous. Reducing the risk is not the ,same as eliminating the risk. My message ~511 fly in the face of all other media messages they receive. In the movie 'The Tall Guy," a nurse goes to bed with the "Guy" character on their first date, boasting that she likes to get the sex thing out of the bay at the beginning of the relationship. 'TYetty Woman" says you can find happiness with a prostitute. Who are the people thatwrite this stuff?. Have the 80s passed and everyone forgotten sexually transmitted diseases? Syphilis is on the rise. Gonorrhea is harder to treat and increasing among bla~k teenagers and adults. Ectopic pregnancies and infertifity from sexually wansmiued diseases are mounting every year. Giving condoms to high" school kids isn't going to reverse all this. That prim little old lady on TV had it right. Unmarried people shouldn't be having sex. Few people have the courage to say this publicly. In the context of our culture, they sound like cranks. Doctors can't fix most of the things you can catch out there. There's no cure for AIDS. There's no cure for herpes or genital warts. Gonorrhea and chlamydial in- fection can ruin your chances of ever get~g pregnant and can harm your baby if you do. That afternoon in the motel may leave you with an infection that you'll have to explain to your spouse. Your doctor can't cover up for you. Your spouse's lawyer may sue him if he tries. There ks no safe sex. Condoms aren't going to make a dent in the sexual epidemics that we are facing. If the condom breaks, you may die. (Dr. Robert C Noble is a professor of medicine at the Unive~ity of Kentucky Col&ge of Medicine, Lexington, KY. This article first appeared in Neunwoek.) WItB ItWWI ILIHB Antolnette Boso n the neat and mostly comfortable small New England town where I work there was a commotion recently in the park area near a river bordering the town. Police had found a body and work was under way to do what police have to do when they encounter a death. Since I am a ncwsI~per person, I stayed on top of what had happened to get the information about the who, what, where and why so that the story could be accurately reported. But when the police report was done, and I learned the cause of death, I found myself emotionally disturbed. The man was young, in his 30s, and he had died of what the police said was hypo- thermia. In the old days we could have been a little more explicit. We would have called it what it was - freezing to death. The tem- peratures of the night before his death had been in the teens, cold enough to take the life out of anyone who did not have shel- ter. I kept thinking of that night. I had left work fairly late. I remember seeing a slen- der man with a beard, carrying a plastic bag crossing the street in the direction of the parL Several times in the past few years young, homeless men have knocked on my office window seeking information about shelters, and always they carried a plastic bag with their bdongings. I had wondered if that man had a place to. stay as I drove along, but never thought about him again until I heard that a young man had frozen to death that night. I do not know if the man I saw is the man who died. But what I do know is that poverty has hit huge numbers of our fellow Americans. The New York Tunes recently carried a front-page story saying, "Rich Got Richer in '80s; Others Held Even." There probably was not room to add, "And Some Got Miserably Poorer." I got disgusted looking at the chart of statistics in the Tmaes and even more so when I saw the line, "Surveys by the Fed- eml Reserve Board suggest that one per- cent of all households hold one-third of all personal wealth." I also found disturbing the statistics that while the median wealth of all households was $43,280 for whites, it was disproportioW ately low for others- an unbelievable $4,170 for blacks and $5,520 for Hispanics. I The poverty situation, certainly as re" I flected in the homeless and the hungry i~ the U.S. today, is a tragedy. It is also a mark of shame that our pofitical polities have changed us as a society, turning us into one where the rich got richer and the poOr poorer. Equal opportunity has become somewhat of a bad joke. We can't keep blaming the victim, ei- ther. Our homeless and hungay are ofte~ not bums, but the working poor. They are people, as my brother Joe says, ' vho have too much month left at the end of their money." He should know. He has worked for years helping to develop and stock a regional food bank in Albany, NY, with the cooperation of Matilda Cuomo, the wife of Gov. Mario Cuomo. This week my brother was telling me that they used to budget $50,000 a year to feed the hungry. Now they need $50,000 every two weeks. That is the sign of poverty. Itbas become a contagious disease. Copyright 1991 CNS A