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September 9, 2004 Edition

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Anniversary of 9-11: Reversing culture of death

We seem to be marking the third anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks more quietly. There will be some memorial services, I'm sure, and many of us will remember the victims of 9-11 in our prayers.

Life has moved on - as it does - despite our sorrow over the past events. Yet, the anniversary gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we have learned since 9-11 and how it has affected our lives.

Legacy of fear. Perhaps the greatest legacy of 9-11 is our fear of future terrorist attacks. I think we are holding our collective breath, wondering when the terrorists will strike the United States again.

We mourn the loss of some of our freedoms. We put up with increased security measures, knowing that they are necessary precautions. We realize we will never go back to more carefree days.

The level of violence throughout the world seems to be escalating. Our Holy Father continues to condemn terrorism, most recently saying recourse to violence is "unworthy" of any cause.

Culture of death. Yet despite his appeals, we continue to live in a culture of death. Terrorists are not the only ones using violence. Abortion kills thousands of unborn babies each day. The lives of disabled and elderly persons are snuffed out by so-called "mercy" killing. Prisoners are executed by capital punishment.

Is it any wonder that global terrorism has grown out of this culture of death? Perhaps we may think there is little we can do to prevent such violence. And, of course, we cannot be responsible for what terrorists do.

But we can be responsible for our own lives and the lives of those around us in our families, workplaces, and neighborhoods. We can preach the Gospel of Life by our own actions, by being people of peace.

As Mother Teresa has said, "Life is a gift that God has given us. A human hand should never end a life." She also tells us not to be discouraged. "As long as we make the best effort we are capable of, we cannot feel discouraged by our failures. God does not demand that I be successful," she says. "God demands that I be faithful."

Outpouring of generosity. One positive outcome from the 9-11 attacks was the outpouring of generosity among many people to help the victims. In the three years since the attacks, Catholic Charities agencies in New York have received more than $31 million in donations to help victims rebuild and obtain financial, spiritual, and emotional support through the work of 25 local agencies.

Three New Jersey Catholic Charities agencies have been helping families through a family bereavement support group called GOALS (Going on After Loss). Other agencies have developed programs to help children cope with loss and develop problem-solving skills.

There are people throughout our country - the poor, immigrants, the unemployed or underemployed - who need our help. We can continue the spirit of generosity we learned after 9-11 by reaching out to those in need. Perhaps showing love and concern for others will provide a foundation for reversing the culture of death into a culture of life.

Mary C. Uhler, editor

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Madison, WI 53744-4985

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Film helped clarify pope's views

To the editor:

George Weigel and Douglas W. Kmiec are very negative toward Fahrenheit 9/11 as one can tell by their essays in your Aug. 19 and Aug. 26 issues [Weigel's August 19 column is online here; Kmiec's column is only in the print edition]. But I feel very positive toward this documentary film because it helped me understand our Pope's views.

Our Holy Father was the world's most distinguished opponent of the invasion of Iraq. Many people tried hard to change his opinion before the invasion. They claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda. But the Pope saw through their claims and saw into their hearts. He continued to oppose the invasion.

Many Americans then gave up on our Pope and said he could not understand. But, as later events proved, the Holy Father did understand. Like other Americans I was sometimes misled by my government from 2001 through 2003. But Fahrenheit 9/11 helped me to see those times through our Pope's eyes.

Mark Midbon, Madison

Terri Schiavo has will to live

To the editor:

Shouldn't Terri Schiavo have the right to live? A counselor by phone used tough love and told Terri to stand up because there are some people that want to kill her. Terri tried desperately to stand up! The fact that Terri survived several starvation attempts (removal of her feeding tube) also shows her will to live.

Terri's dad said that Terri improved greatly with experimental brain surgery and started to talk. Terri would be far, far better today if her husband, Michael, did not stop her therapy. This proves that Terri is not in a vegetative state.

The Florida legislature passed a law called "Terri's Law" which would prohibit starving disabled people by removing their feeding tube. However, a judge overthrew the law so Terri's life is in danger once again. (Also, experts have said that Terri could eat without a feeding tube if she were allowed therapy.)

Please help Terri by visiting http://www.TerrisFight.org/ and click "action item." You don't have to live in Florida to help Terri; you can contact the suggested elected officials on Terri's Web site.

Beverly Moran, Corinth, N.Y.

Points out memorial to women

To the editor:

I read the Catholic Herald (issue of Aug. 26) article "Freedom is not free!" Msgr. Paul J. Swain tells us of his visits to the memorials in Washington, D.C., and his reaction to them.

I am disappointed that he did not mention the Memorial to Women in Military Service for America. This honors the thousands of women who served in the Armed Forces and continue to do so.

I suggest that the next time that he visits Washington, D.C., he take the time to visit this honorable place.

Joyce M. Lapcewich, Madison
Former U.S. Army Sgt. WWII Medic

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