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September 23, 2004 Edition

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Following Jesus: Rise, let us be on our way!

Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane struck me as one of the most powerful scenes in the film, The Passion of the Christ. We watched as Jesus struggled with the forces of evil tempting Him to refuse the suffering and death facing Him.

As true God, Jesus could see into the future. He knew what was coming. And as true man, He must have trembled at the terrible pain to be endured.

We know that Jesus' followers fell asleep in the garden. They could not even stay awake to offer their support. When He was ready, Jesus said to his disciples, "Rise, let us be on our way" (Mark 14:42). It is not just Jesus who faces the Passion ahead, but they, too, must go with Him.

Reflections by Holy Father. Pope John Paul II talks about this passage in a book, Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way released in September by Warner Books. The book was previously published in the Polish language. It is a wonderful collection of insightful reflections by the Holy Father on vocation, ministry of the bishop, and God and courage.

It seems providential that I received a copy of the Holy Father's book just when Bishop Robert C. Morlino went into the hospital for heart surgery. This might be an excellent book for him to read during his convalescence, for it is written particularly to the Catholic bishops of the world by the Pope. (Although many of the reflections can apply to all of us, especially those facing challenges in our lives.)

The Holy Father says, "That invitation, 'Rise, let us be on our way,' is addressed particularly to us bishops, His chosen friends. Even if these words indicate a time of trial, great effort, and a painful cross, we must not allow ourselves to give way to fear. They are the words of peace and joy, the fruit of faith."

Pope John Paul II adds, "God's love does not impose burdens upon us that we cannot carry, nor make demands of us that we cannot fulfill. For whatever he asks of us, He provides the help that is needed."

Take up the Cross. The Pope recalls the words spoken by Polish Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in 1946, the day before his ordination as a bishop: "Being a bishop has something of the Cross about it, which is why the Church places the Cross on the bishop's breast. On the Cross, we have to die to ourselves; without this there cannot be the fullness of the priesthood. To take up one's Cross is not easy, even if it is made of gold and studded with jewels." Ten years later, Cardinal Wyszynski said, "The bishop has the duty to serve not only through his words and through the liturgy, but also through offering up his sufferings."

We hope these words will strengthen Bishop Morlino during his recuperation. The life of a Catholic bishop is not easy in the best of circumstances. There are conflicts and challenges within our society and within the church itself. A bishop must pick up his own cross and follow Jesus as he speaks the truth and acts with courage.

I invite people of the Diocese of Madison to remember Bishop Morlino in prayer during his time of convalescence. And unlike the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, we should stay "awake" and keep "watch" while the bishop recovers. When Christ through Bishop Morlino says, "Rise, let us be on our way," we will be ready to follow.

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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Madison, WI 53744-4985

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More promise with adult
stem cells

To the editor:

My seven-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (insulin dependent) on July 8, 2003. She has three insulin shots a day. If you ask her how she is doing, she'll say she's doing fine. If you ask her how she likes having diabetes, she'll say with a tear in her eyes, "It's terrible!" No matter how terrible diabetes is, we don't want to use embryonic stem cells to find the cure. We want more research using adult stem cells.

The media has focused on embryonic stem cell research using words such as "banned," "hoped for," "potential," and "might lead to." Unfortunately, stem cell research using embryos is NOT banned. Federal funding for creating more embryonic stem cell lines IS banned. With words like "hoped for" "potential" and "might" you can see why (besides the moral implications) the Bush Administration does not want to waste any more tax dollars on this. Why haven't the private investors jumped on this "potential"? Maybe they already know it is a waste of money. (And life.)

The argument is that these embryos are going to be thrown out anyway so we should see if they could potentially save lives. If we do this, it could lead us down a dangerous path to horrible things such as embryo factories, cloning, and more innocent lives being lost. The end does not justify the means. Let's not take a life to save a life.

As for adult stem cells, they can be derived without taking the life of someone. You can learn about adult stem cell successes that alleviated conditions of spinal cord injuries, heart disease, and arthritis at www.stemcellresearch.org There is definitely more promise with adult stem cells.

Right now, my daughter is healthy and leading a normal life. As long as we do the right things, she will stay healthy and in the future there will be a cure using moral and ethical methods that do not take innocent lives.

Cecille Karls, Lodi

Take all moral issues into account

To the editor:

We write with great love to the Church in which we have lived for many years. This is an urgent letter prompted by the crisis facing us Catholic voters. As a group, we make up a powerful 24 percent of the national electorate. We have been targeted as a voting bloc by those whose plan is to isolate and manipulate just one thread of a complex web of ethical questions concerning the sanctity of life.

The current administration taunts us with the phrase "pro-life" - while gutting programs that support human life and the dignity of the worker. This administration slashes funds for the education, nutrition, and health care of children and struggling adults. It has destroyed hard won protection for laborers and retirees, and placed in jeopardy the very earth that sustains us. It wages preemptive war without apparent regard for the sanctity of the lives of civilians and soldiers, and returns our soldiers to face cuts in their own health services.

This agenda is a mockery of the long and cherished Catholic tradition of defending the young, the poor, the marginalized, the frail, and all creation. To solely denounce abortion - as if outlawing this act of desperation would alone redeem and transform our society - insults the lives of women facing this terrifying dilemma.

Catholics must take into account all moral issues when choosing how to vote. We implore you to prepare through prayer to cast your vote with the most vulnerable persons, communities, and ecosystems in mind. Let us make this an election where justice, not a public and incongruous piety, prevails. Take your bearings from the prophet Isaiah, the Gospel of Luke we read this year, and the encyclicals of the church. Let the Word remind us of our call to be a prophetic community denouncing injustice and sowing peace.

Patricia La Cross and James Penczykowski, Madison

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