State budget: Needs citizen input
Budgets - whether at home, work, or government - can be really boring! Nobody other than accountants or finance directors find much excitement in number-crunching.
Yet budgets determine what and how we spend our money. We should base our budgets on our priorities. But often citizens leave decisions about local, state, and national budgets to our lawmakers and government workers.
Boring as they can be, we should be concerned about budgets at all levels. Right now our state Legislature is in the process of hammering out a budget. It's an especially difficult task this year, because the state Senate and Assembly - controlled by different political parties - have passed very different versions of the state budget. A Budget Conference Committee with members of each house and party has the task of reconciling the different versions of the budget.
John Huebscher, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC), urged members of this committee to "develop a budget that protects human life, promotes family, and pursues social justice." The WCC delivered a list of recommended actions under four main headings:
Children and Families. The WCC supports allocating an additional $1 million for homeless shelters for women and children; providing cash assistance to women experiencing an at-risk pregnancy that prevents them from working; and fully funding Wisconsin Shares, daycare assistance for low-income families.
Corrections. The WCC recommends several proposals that would protect the human dignity of prison inmates and provide for effective rehabilitation. The Earned Release Review Commission would encourage inmates to work toward early release from prison. Additional state funds would enable counties to establish community based drug and alcohol
treatment and prison diversion programs. Increased funds for medical and mental health services would benefit the underserved female inmate population. The WCC supports additional state funds for organizations that provide civil legal services to the poor.
Education. The WCC supports modest expansion of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to Racine and to high schools in Milwaukee County. The WCC reminded lawmakers of their promise to increase funding for smaller elementary classes in public schools (SAGE
program). The WCC opposes using the budget process to phase out school integration programs (Chapter 220), and it opposes allowing educational institutions to terminate or not hire unpardoned felons whose crimes bear no relation to the job.
Health Care. While the WCC does not endorse any of the various health plans put forth in the budget process, it does support expanding the number of Wisconsin residents who have ready access to affordable health care. The WCC reminded the committee that any health care expansion must respect human life from conception to natural death. The WCC urges that Medicaid coverage be extended to youths exiting foster care up to the age of 21. The WCC also supports diverting state aid from organizations that counsel or provide abortion services, to those that provide services to pregnant and parenting women, so that they might adequately care for their children or place them in loving adoptive homes. Finally, the WCC recommends that contraception not be given to underage males and females without parental consent.
"The state budget is the single most influential piece of legislation produced by the governor and legislature," Huebscher explained. I join with the WCC in urging concerned citizens to contact members of the Conference Committee and their representatives. How we spend our tax dollars must reflect our priorities.
Mary C. Uhler
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Language of early Masses
To the editor:
In all the articles both in the secular press and in the Catholic press concerning Pope Benedict's lifting of the restrictions on the Tridentine Mass, no mention was made of the liturgical languages of the very early church which were the foundations of the Tridentine Mass.
The language of the first Mass, the Last Supper, was Aramaic. The languages of the participants during the second Mass, the Crucifixion, were Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
In the immediate years after the Crucifixion, in the Jerusalem area, the liturgical languages were Hebrew and Aramaic. The Liturgy of the Word was read in Hebrew in the synagogues until the Jews stopped the practice while the Liturgy of the Eucharist was celebrated in Aramaic or Hebrew in the Christian homes.
Soon in the Western Church, Greek became the official language of the liturgy. Some time between AD 217 and AD 222 Pope Callistus decided that Latin should be the language in Rome because so many of the Romans did not speak or understand Greek. Greek-speaking Christians reacted violently, but the use of Latin in the liturgy gradually spread throughout the Western Church.
The Western Church was not completely Latinized until the second half of the fourth century about 150 years after Hippolytus opposed the change from Greek. Just as Greek and the Eastern languages were introduced into the liturgy as vernacular languages, Latin was also introduced into liturgy as a vernacular language.
Now the Tridentine Mass, which grew out of the Council of Trent, has rejoined the ranks of acceptable liturgies along with the Novus Ordo in numerous vernacular languages and the 20 some rites of the Eastern Church.
Charles Sippel, Waterloo
New partial-birth ban needed
To the editor:
After 15 years of hard work, education, and bouncing from court to court, partial-birth abortion is finally banned across the country. In a partial-birth abortion, the baby is delivered feet first until only the head is left inside the mother. The abortionist stabs the baby at the base of the neck, inserts a suction machine, and sucks out the baby's brains. Partial-birth abortions are most often performed at 20 to 22 weeks of pregnancy on healthy mothers with healthy babies.
Even though a federal ban is in place, Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Representative Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) will soon introduce a Wisconsin ban on partial-birth abortion. It is imperative that Wisconsin pass a state ban because the federal Congress could repeal the federal ban at any time. And, local prosecutors can handle these types of cases more expeditiously and effectively.
You can help pass this vital state partial-birth abortion ban by joining Wisconsin Right to Life E-Voice and be a voice for the unborn. Sign up online at www.WisconsinRightToLife.org/e-voice.htm
Barbara L. Lyons, Executive Director, Wisconsin Right to Life, Milwaukee