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September 30, 2004 Edition

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Poverty in America:
People hunger for more than bread

The United States is one of the poorest countries in the world. Are you crazy, some of you might ask? We live in one of the richest nations on this planet!

Yes, our country may be wealthy in a material sense. Most people have food, clothing, housing, and a job (although surprisingly there are too many in this nation who are hungry and needy). But compared to other countries in the world, most American citizens live pretty well.

Spiritual poverty. So why did I say we are one of the poorest countries? I believe the United States is spiritually poor. One of the most obvious signs of that poverty is the legalization of abortion in our country.

Last week I took time to read and reflect on the words of Mother Teresa. She pointed out this spiritual poverty when she said, "A great poverty reigns in a country that allows taking the life of an unborn child - a child created in God's image, created to live and to love. His or her life is not for destroying but for living, despite the selfishness of those who fear that they lack the means to feed or educate one more child."

Over and over again, Mother Teresa called upon people throughout the world to care for children, along with the sick, the dying, and the destitute among us. She helped these people by providing food, clothing, and shelter. But she said, "Sometimes people can hunger for more than bread."

She explained, "It is possible that our children, our husband, our wife, do not hunger for bread, do not need clothes, do not lack a house. But are we equally sure that none of them feels alone, abandoned, neglected, needing some affection? That, too, is poverty."

Made in His Image. Mother Teresa's words resonated in my heart as I thought about October as Respect Life Month, kicking off the 2004-05 Respect program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The theme this year - "Made in His Image" - is illustrated with a poster (seen on the cover of this week's Catholic Herald [print edition only]). It includes a stunning closeup of an infant's face with smaller photos depicting other aspects of respect for all life.

Throughout the month of October, the Catholic Herald will be publishing articles on various aspects of respect for all human life. Pope John Paul II has reminded us, "What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to create a great campaign in support of life." The U.S. Catholic Bishops have responded by mobilizing all the resources of the Catholic Church - its people, services, and institutions - to work together to build a culture of life.

Welcoming babies. At the root of this culture of life is welcoming babies into the world. Mother Teresa says that a child is a gift from God. So perhaps the first step on the road to spiritual "wealth" is for families to be open to accepting children and showing great love for the children they have.

Those of us beyond the child-bearing years can offer our support and help to younger parents in our own families, parishes, and communities. We can lend them a helping hand personally and provide monetary and material support for local pregnancy centers and service agencies. In Madison, we have a special opportunity to support The Elizabeth House, a new maternity home being built.

We can become involved in pro-life organizations and efforts to change our laws. And above all, we can pray every day for greater respect for all human life in this country. Perhaps these efforts will transform our nation from one of spiritual poverty to spiritual wealth.

Mary C. Uhler

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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

Fax: 608-821-3071
E-mail: info@madisoncatholicherald.org
Some issues non-negotiable

To the editor:

Catholics have a moral obligation to vote for candidates who best represent the moral dictates of their faith. There is a monumental difference between the views of President Bush and Senator Kerry on the fundamental moral issues of abortion and same sex marriage. These issues are non-negotiable and cannot be compromised by pointing to other public policy positions that counterbalance them.

Though I strongly disagree with the president regarding Iraq and other important matters, my conscience could never allow me to vote for candidates like Senator Kerry and his running mate. They support abortion up to nine months of gestation and favor allowing states to legalize gay marriage.

Their stands on these issues should absolutely disgust anyone claiming to be a Roman Catholic. Senator Kerry has promised to appoint only judges who would uphold the murderous Roe v. Wade decision.

Any Catholic voting for Senator John Forbes Kerry needs to have his or her conscience examined and restored to spiritual well-being. I for one will not participate in the total destruction of our nation's foundations by voting for politicians opposed to the culture of life that God calls us to embrace.

Timothy Peter Rookey, Middleton

Praise for collaborative effort

To the editor:

Recently Fr. Francis Steffen, pastor, and Beverly Florence, principal, of Holy Ghost School, Dickeyville, and Immaculate Conception School, Kieler, invited me to preside at the opening school Mass. Fr. Randy Timmerman preached the homily and Fr. Steffen concelebrated.

I enjoyed reading about it on Page 13 of the Sept. 23 issue of the Catholic Herald [print edition only]. It was a truly "Catholic moment" in our history and a wonderful celebration of unity between the two Catholic communities that now share the same school.

I was proud once again of my hometown parish in Kieler along with our friends in Dickeyville for making tough decisions that ultimately will strengthen Catholic education in the area for generations to come. I am thankful for the sacrifices made by so many over the years for the opportunity I had to attend Immaculate Conception School.

I realize sacrifices are still being made by current students and families as all the details of this new endeavor are being worked out. Catholic education is a hallmark of our communities in the southwest region of the diocese and I give thanks for those who make it possible.

Congratulations to Fr. Steffen and the parishioners of Holy Ghost and Immaculate Conception. May God continue to bless you in this new collaborative effort.

Fr. Bart D. Timmerman, Sun Prairie

Drinking, theology don't mix

To the editor:

When I was at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Center for a meeting a few months back, a young man was talking about a program called "Theology on Tap." At first, I didn't get it. When I finally figured it out, I cannot approve of a program that basically lures students/young people into the Majestic Club (a bar) to discuss theology.

I also saw this program listed in the Catholic Herald and I don't think it has a place in that publication. I have discussed this with several of my peers (older women) as I am and we feel that it is not right.

We, Wisconsinites, have been listed as notorious for having drinking young people and I know persons/families that have alcoholics among their loved ones. It is not right to encourage young people to meet at a club to discuss theology.

The young man said it was a very successful program. But do we, as Catholics, want to promote drinking even if theology is discussed? Isn't there another way to get young people interested?

Mary Cruger, Madison

Thanks Knights of Columbus

To the editor:

As Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Madison, I recently attended the annual diocesan meeting of the Wisconsin Knights of Columbus at St. Bernard Parish in Middleton.

The Knights of Columbus presented me with checks to Bishop Morlino and the Diocese of Madison for education and vocations in the amounts of $8,902.88 and $1,000, respectively.

On behalf of the Diocese of Madison, thank you to the Knights of Columbus for their steadfast and generous support. The work of education and seminarian support is vital for the spiritual health of our diocese, and the Knights' efforts are sincerely appreciated.

May God continue to bless the fraternal organization of the Knights of Columbus in all of their endeavors of charity and service.

Sincerely in Christ,
Rev. James Bartylla, Director of Office of Vocations,
Diocese of Madison

Judges overruling citizens

To the editor:

I would comment on the partial-birth abortion ban article by Gail Quinn published in the Sept. 9 issue [print edition only].

It is coming down to only three judges keeping this ban from becoming law.

Eighty-five percent of the citizens of this country want the procedure banned. We need to ask ourselves are we a country by the people, for the people anymore? Are we a democracy?

We need to stop voting in pro-choice candidates that put these judges on the bench and pray for the innocent lives lost.

Laurie Favreau, Footville

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