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December 15, 1991     Arkansas Catholic
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December 15, 1991

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ARKANSAS CATHOLIC DECEMBER 15, 1991 PAGE 15 By Tom McGrath haps the best thing about this plan-the let- jobs they lose life itself?. Is this a lack of I thought of Smokey the Bear the other ter doesn't ever have to get written, faith? day. Remember him, the furry baritone with And this wouldn't be a hatchet job on What about the hck of faith in the the booming voice and accusing finger? men. No more than the current pastoral promises of Jesus, which I remember watching "IV back in about letter is intended as a hatchet job on makes even some Church 1959 and how old Smokey would come on, women. Rather it would be a chance to officials profess principles glaring, pinning me with those piercing eyes take a caring look at the spiritual in pubfic but behind the as he pointed mad warned, 'Only you can health of men in this country, scenes rely on rea/p0///#k prevent forest fires!" There's plenty to put on the solutions to determine The funny thing ks, growing up on the agenda. For example, I won- their course of action? South Side of Chicago, the closest thing we der and worry about these What is there to say had to a forest was the empty lot down the questions: about the hang-up so many street that we called a prairie. The prairie Why do so many men men have with Mary as had a couple of scrawny trees, plenty of resort so easily to violence virgin? I'm not talking overgrown weeds, and assorted junk strewn to solve interpersonal con- about respect and devo- about, flicts? Why is there so tion for Mary, the first Smokey was talking to the wrong guy. much violence against Christian and exemplary Smokey came to mind recently when I women, children, gay disciple. I'm talking about read about the U.S. Catholic bishops' con- men? the obsessive need to present tinuing efforts to produce a pastoral letter Why are gangs so Mary as "spodess." This is akin on women. I think the bishops' efforts to appealing to young men and boys? What to Manichaeism, the heresy that denies Jesus' confront the sin and error of sexism through are gang recruits missing from their fathers, humanity. It keeps men from appreciating a pastoral letter on women is as off target as their pastors, their undes, and from men in women as they are, and promotes the harm- Smokey's forest-fire warning to a ciIDlmund the neighborhood that makes a life of ter- ful dualism that categorizes women as el- youth, rorism seem attractive? ther Madonnas (in the .old sense of the What makes it off target? b-'wst, it lo- , * How many unwed fathers have taken word) or whores. cates the problem in women, which is sire- responsibility for the boys and girls they've This chronicle of troubles is the easy list. ply not the case. But more important, I don't helped to create? But there is much more to look at of a believe that men -- the bishops in particu- Why has the priesthood stopped ap- positive nature. For example, what strengths lar --- are in the position to reflect produc- have men brought to the Church? What tively on women in society and the Church. in 1959 when Smokey are we proud of? What sensitivities have we There's some important work to be done contributed? What perseverance have we flrsL Some homework, or at least some work WS~ popular ~ a shown? How have men brought their faith that's much closer to home. The bishops ~ often on ~ radio, ma~ with them on their jobs, in their neighbor- are, however, in the uniquely wonderful hoods, with their ~Ifilies? position to do an excellent job on a similar the ~ can ll~ LIp the tune. Self-exmnination is the honest place to topic. They should write a pastoral letter on start. It's a more helpful place. We men men. pealing to men? might find strength in our weakness, power This would be a more honest place to What is the spiritual role of fatherhood? in our mourning, redemption in our pleas begin. Start by asking questions about men's How has modem business, which keeps men for forgiveness where warranted, pride in experience of faith, of obstacles to faith, away from their families for long periods, one another, and the ability to talk with and of feelings of threat or confusion we affected this role of men? and about women, person-to-person. men feel now that age-old gender roles are How is society to understand the plight Back in 1959 when Smokey was popular changing, of black men in the U.S., and what role has there was a song played often on the radio. The bishops should start by fully partici- fear on the part of white men played in Maybe the bishops can pick up the tune. It pating in sessions where a wide ariety of shunting black males off to the margins? went, "I'm gonna sit right down and waite men talk about their lives-in real, not reli- What might replace the Holy Nmne myself a letter." gious, language. Of course that would have Society or other men's clubs in atwacting (Tmn McGrath is M#m'ial director of SALT, to start with the bishops themselves. If they men to positive affiliation with their parish? a numthly social justice magazhw published by start '%lowin' smoke," the whole process Why do so many men die shortly after the C/met/am. Repr/nted w/th perm/ss/on from might as well shut down. The call for men the}, retire? Are men's identities so tied up the Nov.,/Dea 1991 issue of SALT, 205 W. to authentically express their faith is per- with their jobs that when they lose their Monroe St., Chicago, IL, 60606.) Remember those in need this holiday season! John ZiorIorvCNS Bishop John J. Fitzpatrick of Brownsville, TX, has announced his retirement at age 73. Known for his defense of the poor, including Cen- tral Americans who have fled their nations and sought shelter in his diocese, Bishop Fitzpatrick is suc- ceeded by a Cuban-born Jesuit, coadjutor bishop Enrique San Pedro of Brownsville. 101 N. Van Buren, LR 666-8504 Road Service Tune-ups Pickup & Delivery Air Cond. Repair Tires & Batteries Brake Service ? Industrial Fasteners and Supplies 500 North Olive St.. North Little Rock, AR 72114 372-7127 or AR Watts 1-800 482-9023 Brenda Kent Terry Kent Lauraetta Edgar Gall Clayton Raymond Clayton ....................................................................