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April 22, 2004 Edition

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Matching: Putting dieters and the hungry together

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson put his entire staff - including himself - on a diet and exercise regimen. Tommy looks much leaner than when he was governor of Wisconsin!

The impetus for this makeover? Thompson said, "When I came in here and saw so many fat people in the department, I said, 'We're the department of health, and the only way we can really be credible on the thing is to start looking the part and exercising."

Alarming statistics. Thompson felt the need to "practice what he preaches." He recently released some alarming statistics: nearly 130 million Americans - 64 percent of the population - are obese or overweight. This cost our nation about $117 billion in the year 2000. Heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses are often linked to obesity, Thompson pointed out.

We know the cost of health care has skyrocketed in recent years. Insurance premiums and prescription drugs are out of sight. If costs continue to climb, employers will pass more costs onto employees - or cut out health benefits entirely for some workers. More people may find themselves without health insurance and unable to pay for their own medical care.

So taking control of our own health becomes more than a personal issue. It really should be part of our concern for the common good. If each of us strives to be healthy individuals, we can strengthen the health of our entire society.

Millions go hungry. Ironically, there's also a flip side to this situation. While many Americans are overweight, millions of people in this country are hungry, reported a recent Catholic News Service article. Hunger remains a persistent and growing problem. Catholic Charities USA reported that its agencies in 2002 provided food services to 4.69 million people through food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, and home-delivered meals.

Bread for the World also issued its annual report on domestic and international hunger issues on April 14. It noted that hunger and "food insecurity" affected nearly 35 million people, including 13 million children, in 2002. This number increased for the third year in a row.

Putting two and two together. What can we do about this situation? Put two and two together. How about encouraging the overweight people to share food with those who are hungry? Instead of just committing to diet and exercise, why don't health-conscious Americans get involved in local programs to help those in need? Matching up the dieters and the hungry seems to be a solution made in heaven.

In the Diocese of Madison area, concerned citizens might consider contributions to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Catholic Multicultural Center in Madison, and Catholic Charities. Many local parishes are involved in food pantries and other programs to help those in need.

On the national/international levels, Bread for the World is urging the U.S. Congress to fund and implement new initiatives to break the cycle of hunger. Check out their Web site at www.bread.org for more information.

Let's resolve to take charge of our own health and help those less fortunate than ourselves. In this Easter season, we might also remember what Jesus told us: "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do onto me."

Mary C. Uhler, editor

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We reserve the right to edit or reject letters. Limit letters to 200 words or less. All letters must be signed. Please include your city or town of residence.

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The Catholic Herald
P.O. Box 44985
Madison, WI 53744-4985

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E-mail: info@madisoncatholicherald.org
We fight to protect free world

To the editor:

In the April 15 issue of the Catholic Herald [print edition only], Tony Magliano concludes his article that "As baptized Christians we are called to denounce evil wherever it exists." Did you read the article directly above yours by George Weigel? Who is more evil here, a country and dictator snubbing the international community, eliminating his own people in unspeakable ways, and openly threatening our country or a country and president actually doing something to defend our country and protect the free world?

I am not a patriotic blind man in support of war wherever we see fit. But I am someone who has decided to trust in our leadership for a change - something Americans have not been accustomed to for a while. Our intelligence agencies know more than we do. All we have is CNN and Fox news and our niche printed resources to read. It troubles me greatly to be called to faith and forgiveness and compassion instead of war when those are the very things worth fighting for and preserving for ALL people.

From the comfort of our laptops, we punch out editorials and commentary (much like this one) full of "shoulds" and "coulds" with no reflection on what a country - a free country - could be like if we were to be pre-emptive in all that we do. Like educating our children, being kind to our neighbor, being patient, and yes, if our family or friends were threatened, to offer our life for them. Suddenly "pre-emptive" doesn't sound that bad, does it?

Your article's title "Truth: Waters get muddied in war" is correct. But clearly it is from looking through that murky pond where you get your perspective on good and evil.

Your Silent American Catholic,
Keith Ksobiech, Windsor

Thanks from Retirement Fund

To the publisher:

Thank you for your Diocesan check for $220,095.41 which has been deposited in the Retirement Fund for the Religious account. This brings your total Diocesan contributions for all of the years of the collection to $3,844,477.32. The money has been recorded as part of Appeal XVI for 2003.

Because of your generosity of the Catholic community of your diocese, retired religious who have given so many years of service will be assisted in receiving the care they need. These funds, with all the other contributions received, will be used to provide retirement grants to needy religious institutes of women and men in June 2004. As you well know, health care costs are rising quickly and all of us religious appreciate your generosity. Through these gifts, we can continue to face the financial challenges that are upon us.

Your support and the support of your Retirement Fund for Religious coordinator, pastors, parish priests and deacons are essential to the Fund's success and we are grateful for all you do. You can be assured that the 40,000 retired religious will remember you in their prayers. May God bless you abundantly!

Sister Andreé Fries, CPPS, Executive Director,
National Religious Retirement Office, Washington, D.C.

Marriage defined in Scripture

To the editor:

Where can we find the real meaning of the term "marriage"? The answer is in the mind of God, the creator of all things, including all human beings.

But how do we know the mind of God? The answer is that we know the mind of God through Sacred Scripture, the Bible. Anyone familiar with the Bible knows that from Genesis to Revelation the true concept of marriage is expressed as a union of a man and a woman.

Charles J. Sippel, Waterloo

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