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Archive of August 18, 2004

Pope thanks God for Lourdes pilgrimage, appears in better health

, Aug 18, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father thanked God for the strength he was given to make his pilgrimage to Lourdes last weekend in today’s general audience at his summer home in Castelgandolfo.

He was in better health this morning than he appeared to be in France, where he struggled to finish his homily during Mass on Sunday.

"I give thanks to God who in his benevolence allowed me to go on the pilgrimage to Lourdes," said the Pope in a clear, strong voice to the faithful gathered in Castelgandolfo.

In Polish, he told the faithful: "I thank you for having sustained me with your prayers during my pilgrimage to Lourdes."

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Psalm points to Christ as the Messiah and perfect priest, says Pope

, Aug 18, 2004 (CNA) - During his catechesis today, Pope John Paul II explained the significance of Psalm 109 as a Messianic hymn, which points to Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

The Pope gave his catechesis during the general audience at the papal palace in Castel Gandolfo.  The focus of the catechesis was on verses 1-5,7 of the Psalm, which are recited during the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Pope explained how both the Jewish and Christian traditions have seen the profile of the Messiah in the image of the king.

There are two parts to the psalm, said the Pope. The first part is a messianic prophecy, which points to the day when Christ will sit at the right hand of God. This prophecy is referred to several times in the New Testament, he pointed out. 

The second part makes a priestly reference. Traditionally, explained the Pope, the king also had priestly functions.

The Pope pointed out that in Hebrews (5:10), the priesthood of Jesus is referred to as a priest in the tradition of the order of the Jewish king Melchizedek. From the Christian perspective, the Messiah is the perfect model of priesthood and this perfect priesthood was fully incarnate in Jesus, he said.

The Pope also referred to St. Augustine’s insights on the psalm. All of this had to be prophesied, so that the arrival of the Messiah could be more readily accepted with faith, said St. Augustine. The psalm prophesies, in very clear and explicit terms, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, said St. Augustine.

In this light, the Psalm, the Pope said, becomes a “luminous chant, exalted in the Liturgy, which remembers the death and resurrection of Jesus.”

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Ignoring sex difference harms society, says scholar

Washington D.C., Aug 18, 2004 (CNA) - Women, men and their children are not well served by a society that fails to acknowledge the inherent differences between the sexes, says author and scholar Steven E. Rhoads.

In his new book, "Taking Sex Difference Seriously", the public policy professor of the University of Virginia argues that gender differences are based in nature and are not the result of socialization.

Rhoads presented his case to a packed lecture hall at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., last week. The Content of his lecture was presented by the Culture of Life Foundation in the latest edition of their publication, Culture & Cosmos.

Drawing from an abundance of social science data and biological research, Rhoads argued that "masculinity and femininity are not constructed" and he stressed that much of the differences between the sexes have firm roots in biology. He said the amount of testosterone babies are exposed to in the womb "have a lot to do with how they turn out."

Rhoads cited a study that reported that male infants are already more aggressive than females by the age of 16 months. That men are more aggressive, he said, is demonstrated by the fact that there are 28 men in jail for killing another man for every woman incarcerated for killing another woman.

Rhoads said one area where society has suffered due to the denial of this basic difference is in men's sports. Current law requires women to be equally represented in college athletics. Because women's interest in sports is not as high as men's, many schools have had to cut men's programs. Rhoads is concerned that many men, who need organized sports as an outlet for their aggression, will turn to less appropriate outlets.

Rhoads also said research indicates women are better nurturers than men and that for the most part women prefer being with their children to pursuing a professional career.

He says that children benefit from having their mothers home as well. In countries where the law requires both men and women to be given time off for the birth of a child, surveys indicate that men are much more likely to want to return to their jobs than women. Even when women are fulfilled in their career, Rhoads said, children suffer.

Rhoads pointed to one study that showed that the more mothers loved their jobs, the less mentally healthy their teenage daughters were. But mental health for teen girls improved as their father's job satisfaction increased. Another study revealed that chemicals, reflecting stress, increased in small boys while in day-care and decreased on the weekend when the boys were with their mothers.

Much of the data Rhoads cites about men make them out to be cads. By nature, he said, men tend to seek multiple sexual partners and eschew commitment. But Rhoads did say that men seem to have a natural aptitude for fulfilling duty. One study showed that in unhappy marriages, men were more likely to stick it out because of concern for the wife, while women were less concerned with hurting their spouse by calling it quits.

Rhoads suggested some simple policy changes, which include and end to the U.S. law that requires gender equity in college sports. Rhoads also notes that many state textbook committees have strict rules that limit how women can be portrayed. Some rules require that women never be shown performing household tasks or holding a baby. Rhoads says such rules ought to be changed. Rhoads also calls on changing the tax code to offer incentives for one parent to stay home with their children.

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Catholic music festival to rock Midwest

Steelville, Ill., Aug 18, 2004 (CNA) - The American Midwest will host the United States’ largest Catholic music festival next month for the second year. St. Louis Catholic Music Festival, also billed as the CrossRoads Festival, will feature Catholic music artists, as well as speakers, worship, prayer and fellowship in a celebration of faith.

The two-day event will be held Sept. 25-26 on the grounds of the Eagle Hurst Ranch outside of Steelville, Missouri, about 90 miles from St. Louis. All participants are welcome to camp overnight and attend mass the next morning.

Participants also have access to the Eagle Hurst facilities and can take part in hiking, river wading, badminton and shuffleboard. There will also be the opportunity for Eucharistic adoration and confession throughout the day.

“We hope people will make use of this chance to prepare for adoration in the evening, which is really the high-point and spiritual focus of the day,” says organizer Larry Nolte.

Nolte organized the event last year after seeing a copy of Time magazine with the headline "Can the Catholic Church Survive?" concerning the recent Church scandals, and he thought the Church deserved better. “We needed to support one another somehow,” he said. “The music festival was just an extension of that thought.”

This year, the concert will be headlined by Catholic artists Danielle Rose, Greg Walton and Karl Zimmerman. Speakers include Greg Robeson and the REAP Team.

Admission is $25 per person, which includes all the events, camping, parking and three meals.

For more information, go to www.Crossroadsfestival.com or e-mail [email protected]

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Eight priests and two seminarians arrested in China

Rome, Italy, Aug 18, 2004 (CNA) - Eight Catholic priests and two seminarians were arrested in China Aug. 6. Police stopped the 10 men, who were gathered for a retreat. The arrest, which is the latest in a wave of anti-Church activity by the Chinese government, took place in the village of Sujiazhuang, about 200-km south-west of Peking, in the Diocese of Baoding, reported AsiaNews.

Those arrested include Fr. Huo Junlong, administrator for the Diocese of Baoding; Zhang Zhenqian of Baoding and Huang of Sujiazhuang. The names of the others are not known. The men are now being held in the police custody in Baoding.

According to the Kung Foundation, 20 police trucks and numerous public security guards had surrounded the village and had conducted a house-by-house search, looking to arrest priests and seminarians.

The province of Hebei, in which Peking is located, is the area with the highest concentration of Catholics in the country. They number 1.5 million.

The Diocese of Baoding has been the centre of a strong unofficial community for awhile. Its bishops Giacomo Su Zhimin, 72, and Francesco An Shuxin, 54, have been imprisoned for the last seven years. They have yet to be given the possibility to communicate with the outside world. Some believe the two bishops are dead. Their predecessor, Bishop Giuseppe Fan Xueyan, was tortured and killed in prison.

Three Chinese bishops have been arrested and interrogated in the last three months.

China’s director of religious affairs, Ye Xiaowen, continues to deny that there is religious persecution in his country.

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Church in Colombia praises demobilization of six thousand guerrilla soldiers

, Aug 18, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro of Tunja, Colombia, and Vice President of the Bishops Conference of Colombia praised this week the historic demobilization of six thousand guerrilla soldiers associated with the United Self-Defenses of Colombia (AUC).

Archbishop Castro said the Church is satisfied with the gesture that will lead to the disarming of three rebel fronts in the province of Meta, but he underscored that this cease-fire does not imply impunity.

The guerrillas “should pay for their offenses and crimes so that all of their acts are not treated with impunity,” said the Archbishop, expressing his confidence that other rebel fronts would demobilize and join in the peace process.

The announcement was made by rebel leader Miguel Arroyabe, who confirmed the gradual demobilization of rebel fighters as part of the peace process underway between paramilitary groups and the government.

The negotiations, which began in July, seek the demobilization of some 20,000 rebel soldiers of the AUC before 2006. 

The disarming by these three groups is the largest demobilization to take place since November 25, 2003, when 871 guerilla soldiers laid down their weapons in Medellin.

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