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Bishop Speaks
April 26, 2007 Edition

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Under the Gospel Book (en Español)
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Bishops' Schedules:
Bishop Robert C. Morlino

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
10:30 a.m. -- Speak at Staff Catechesis, Preside and Preach at Mass, Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, Madison

5:00 p.m. -- St. Ambrose Academy Mass and Dinner, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Madison

Saturday, April 28, 2007
Attend Wisconsin State Council Knights of Columbus 106th Annual Meeting, Appleton

Sunday, April 29, 2007
2:00 p.m. -- Preside and Preach, Sacrament of Confirmation, St. Joseph Parish, Baraboo

Wednesday, May 2, 2007
7:00 p.m. -- Preside and Preach, Sacrament of Confirmation, St. Victor Parish, Monroe

Bishop William H. Bullock

Saturday, April 28, 2007
5:15 p.m. -- Preside and Preach, Sacrament of Confirmation, St. Peter Parish, Madison

Sunday, April 29, 2007
10:30 a.m. -- Preside and Preach, Sacrament of Confirmation, St. Mary Parish, Milton

Monday, April 30, 2007
12:00 noon -- Preside and Preach, Celebration of the Eucharist, Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, Madison

Prevent tragedy: Ground culture in objective truth

illustration of Gospel Book being held open over bishop's head

Under the
Gospel Book

+ Bishop Robert
C. Morlino

(en Español)

Dear Friends,

In last week's column, the adaptation of a homily recently given, I expressed a genuine hope that perhaps given the fate of Don Imus, in terms of his future in network radio and television, the culture of cruelty and meanness in our country was under new scrutiny and would be brought to an end.

I expressed, in turn, the hope that the end of the culture of cruelty and meanness might be an indicator that a serious questioning of the culture of death, especially in terms of abortion and embryonic stem cell research, as well as war and capital punishment, of course, might also be coming to an end.

In recent days there has been very good news and very bad news. The very good news takes the form of the Supreme Court decision to uphold the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, which amounts to infanticide. This is surely a great victory for the culture of life and a great sign of hope for the future. The bad news is, of course, the terrible massacre of 32 on the campus of Virginia Tech University.

The isolation of rugged individualism

The tragedy at Virginia Tech, it seems, could have been averted many times over. The very sick and troubled young man had showed signs and symptoms of his own deranged state over a period of years. We pray for the great young men and women who were his victims and for their families in a very special way. And we beg God's mercy for the perpetrator of these senseless killings.

As I watched television coverage of this sad tragedy, one particular element stood out. The students who lived in the residence hall suite with this gentleman, and others who knew him, made it clear that these signs and symptoms were more or less none of their business.

The rugged individualism of the American culture will always uphold the attitude "you believe what you want and do what you want, and let me believe what I want and do what I want." This particular mentality became exaggerated with regard to this extremely troubled and deranged young man. Everyone decided to mind his or her business and let him believe what he wanted and do what he wanted, and we see where that has led. The absolute refusal to correct, or to attempt to correct, someone else or invite someone else to correction is really an epidemic disease in our culture.

The individualism that gives each the absolute freedom to believe whatever and to do whatever also isolates the individual under consideration. This individualism is the opposite of love and the opposite of respect. Love for the other always includes inviting the other to see what is true and to do what is right. Allowing the other to be isolated in his or her own convictions and action, without correction and without invitation to correction, is quite the opposite of love and respect.

Culture grounded in objective truth

Many young people feel genuine hurt and sympathy for those who are suffering at Virginia Tech, but at the same time do not believe that it is their place to correct or to invite to correction in terms of objective truth, including moral truth. Events like the tragedy of Virginia Tech will only be avoided when all human beings will accept what their human intelligence, their reason, teaches as objectively true, so that there can be unity in the truth, solidarity and correction in community.

There are many people who are wondering now whether they should have said or done something more as they witnessed the strange and deranged behavior of this young man.

They should have done something more, but for that to have happened, there would have had to be a climate in which objective truth including moral truth was recognized, so that there could be a basis for calling the individual to account for his strange behavior, so that his own life might have been helped and spared, and the lives of 32 fine young men and women might well have been spared.

Promoting culture of love, not cruelty

In the 70s and early 80s I lived in college residence halls for 11 years. In the early days alcohol abuse was taken for granted, and that led to the abuse of sexual activity and premarital sex being taken for granted. That abuse led further to the abuse of drugs being taken for granted, and as we have just celebrated the anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, it seems now that violence is the new drug which will also be taken for granted.

The key to promoting a culture of love, rather than a culture of cruelty and meanness, the key to promoting a culture of life rather than death, lies in having in our society a common ground in terms of the most basic objective truths, especially moral truth. Without this the dangers of individualism and the isolation it brings will only grow ever worse.

Let us continue to pray for all the victims of violence, wherever this may occur, and let us pray for our sisters and brothers at Virginia Tech and for the consolation and healing that only the Lord can generously grant to them. Thank you for reading this. God bless you! Praised be Jesus Christ!

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Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
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