Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
May 19, 1991     Arkansas Catholic
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May 19, 1991

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PAGE 2 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC MAY 19, 1991 i After waiting three years for the city to cut down and dear out unsightly brush between my hack'yard fence and the road, I finally gave up last Sunday and approached the strip of weeds and trash with a large pair of dippers. Making myway carefully through the tall grass and webbed vines, I scanned the tangled mess for snakes, poison ivy and broken glas~ I muttered a final few words against the dty, poised the dippers and com- menced to whacking. For more than an hour, a little bird perched inside a small bush chirped as I whacked. Oip - chirp. Oip - chirp. I worked around the bush, trying to give the bird a chance to see that it was being evicted, a chance to fly away on its own rather than be chased away by clippers. "Sing away, little bird," I said aloud. "I have to take your bush away, but there are lots of trees around here. You can fred another home." I continued to whack and the bird con- tinued to chirp until finally the one bush remained unfelled. The small bird, unmoving and unmoved, stared at me with quiet determination and a calm dignity. From the comer of my eye I could see the sun setting over the roof of my two-story house, throwing long shadows across my landscaped back yard. After much work and development, only this bush and this bird stood between me and a completely fin- ished piece of property. The strip of prop- erty upon which this bird and bush stood ~as not mine, exactly, but I didn't think it was theirs, either. And I was the one with the dippers. But as ! stood returning the gaze of the unmoving and silent bird I apprehended the meaning of a tiny bush in the shadow of a large house. I saw Albanians, Kurds, Palesfinhns. Soviet Jews and Salvadorans. South African blacks. I put away the dippers and went into the house. DKH ARKANSAS CATHOLIC is published 48 times a year, for $15 per year. by the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, Admnu= Catholic, Inc., P.O. Box 7417 2500 N. Tyler St., Little Rock. AR 72217, (501) 664-0340 [FAX 6s4.9o7sl. PUBUSHER Most Rev. Andrew J. McDonald, Bishop MANAGING EDITOR Rev. Albert J. Schneider ~w#~'~,~'~4"~ EDITOR ~ri(c~a~" ~, Deborah K, Halter ~A~ | J~k~" CIRCULATION MANAGER Agnes Kni~g : : ADVERTISING MARKETING MANAGER : Ron M. Hal Rev. James M. Schratz EDITORIAL I PRODUCTION ASSISTANT . " ......... Jo Made Smith ~i~.~ J it ut~ RocX, AR. ; : Busineel hours am 8:30 - 4, Monday - Friday. ~ on He Da~ and mal0nal ~ Offlt~a am k3caI~[ In Morrb Hall, SL John's Center. 2500 N. TyIm; St. L.~ Rock, AR 7;~07. To subscflbe, send $15 with yourname, address and parish tO the:iddress:abOW~ " - .......... . .- ::.. n the April 7 editorials, I chal- lenged the Church rule excluding pro- choice Catholics from stewardship. Both pro-choice and pro-life Catholics who view the rule unchristian have lent support. Critics have posed many questions, the most recurrent of which I hope to answer here. IIIWII()IIII C. Winston Brown, M.D. in everyday living as evidenced by the ongo- each year in that country of 23 million as compared with some 1.6 rni!i'on legal pro- cedures carried out annually in the United Slates, a country with 11 times as many people. In the U.S., 32 percent of all abor- tions are obtained by Catholic women, at- though Catholic women comprise only 22 percent of the U.S. female population. ing debate in everyArkansas Catholic about Such contradictions make me doubt the ! I ask only that they seek out just versus unjust current Catholic resolve to control abor-i war, removal of life tion through anfi-abortion/anti-contracep- m; ag ge vely other dissenters and support from the lion law and greater Church control of] an impose this rule upon them. termina~y ill, and women. ]!t capital punish- In situations where unanswerable ques- J~ ment. On these life lions and contradictions abound, I find it Cz Critics say the rule is intended only for and death issues, impossible to determine a direction. If I I b~ those who actively and publicly promote dissenters are not cannot determine a direction, how can I -~r abortion, for example, a political figure, excluded from impose a direction upon others? There- Although I do not actively and publicly stewardship, fore in such poorly - defined areas of life, i ze promote abortion, I do actively and pub- Critcs counter I choose to trust the wisdom of my fellow ! ~ i( with questions cen- tering on the be- ginnings of life, God's timing of ensoulment, and what Christ would do were He on earth. Neither I nor anyone can answer these ques- tions. This is precisely what makes abortion a very difficult and thoughtful issue for me. Besides asking unanswerable questions about abortion, my critics ignore striking contradictions in our current logic about its controL Under the recent Ceausescu regime, Ro- mania experienced the most punitive and restrictive anti-abortion/anti-contraception laws known in history, yet more than 1.2 humans in dedding what is right for them. If after studying these comments, Catho- lic Christians and the Catholic clergy judge me unfaithful and unchristian, then I stand judged. If so, I ask only that they seek out aggressively other dissenters and impose this rule upon them. That the dissenter may be a family member, dose friend, a good and loving person, or a devoted sup- porter of the Church should be irrelevant. If they believe this exclusive rule is right and Christian, then I ask that they have the courage to impose it upon every Catho-1 lic dissenter known. (C. Winston Brown, M.D., writes from Little licly promote the indMdual's right to choose what place, if any, abortion plays in his or her reproductive health. Since I make the choice the individual's, I allow the individual to choose abortion. There- fore the argument comes full circle: I am viewed by the Church as promoting abor- tion. A contribution to Planned Parent- hood; a signature on a pro-choice peg tion; or discussing such vie~vs with friends are all pubfic statements of dissent. Going public is going public: hiding behind vague interpretations of a rule is duplicitous. Critics say the rule is necessary because abortion is a matter of life and death. How- ever, there are many issues of life and death million illegal abortions were performed d?z~) sin, even though that may not have been He developed and offered workshops tot [~k~ ~ [['x~7 [[']][~ ~ Agatha's.Part of their religious education at St. womenphysical Onwaysself-esteem,of dealingfrwithcupleSconflict,n norrand And they need to be confronted withfor families of alcoholics. Attendance ex" Dolores Curran these messages over and over while sitting ploded but he suffered. His priests reported On in church with their families who are listen- that men were telling them to lay off, that e in 12 American women will be ing and nodding inside. The hands-off these were not religious topics, and if they the victim of an attempted or completed stance we have taken toward these everyday continued, they would withdraw financial rape at some time in her life. One out of five American Women is abused sins of men is no longer acceptable in the Christian church family. I have a friend, a priest, who is director of family life in his diocese. He held work- shops on family spirituality, communication, marriage enrichment, and practically every support. I believe that is a slrong reason for Church silence on these topics. We're afraid of the men's reaction. The questions we need to ponder are: are these religious topics~ and, if so, how are we going to begin ad- by her husband and/or father. Fifty percent of di- rti 81 bc [e ~a D ic to I"(2 I I vorced American women do not re- ceive child support from their children's father. Yet, when was the last time you heard a sermon on the sinfulness of any of the above? These are the real issues hundreds of thousands of women face daily. But we don't seem to see them as faith-related. Why the Church silence on physical, sexual, and verbal abuse of women by men? Is it because qt's to be expected," or be- cause '~omen ask for it," or because the ones who interpret and preach the sinful- ness of abuse are male? We're spending an awfully lot of print and air on issues like women's participation in the liturgy but we're avoiding the issues that really count. These stem, not from encyclicals and Church laws, but from the morality and ethics of men who live in fami- lies. These men are trained in the faith by churches and Church leaders. They need to hear that abuse is sinful even though their good Christian dads abused their mothers. They need to hear that when they fail to send child support, they are committing a aspect of family imaginable. He had mod- est success in drawing parents. Then, he initiated a diocesan-wide listen- ing process, asking parents in a confidential survey what they would name as their great- est needs. "I was stunned," he said. ~he two that landed on the top were alcoholism and abuse. I didn't suspect we had much of either in our middle class diocese. After all, we don't see either at Sunday Mass. But the rest of the week .... " He changed his workshops and emphasis. He began by educating the priests in his diocese to the extent of the problem, en- They need to hear that abuse is sinful even though their good Christian clads abused their mothers. couraging them to preach on alcoholian, abuse and incest, and offering ~d support groups for families with these reali- ties. ill P, dressing them on a practical level? I i~ Alcoholism, abuse and financial neglectt te are not foreign to Cathoficism. They cross[ all economic and educational lines. If we[ really want to address women's issues, let's! start with these. I Copyright 1991 Alt Putishing Co. etddiction: The Subtle Foe Causes Effects Recovery Booklet available for $1 Catholic P.O. Box 7417 Little Rock AR 72217 frorrg