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CULTURE DIGEST: Pope denounces radical feminism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–According to the Vatican, feminism’s push for equality of the sexes makes “homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality.”

A 37-page document written by one of Pope John Paul II’s closest aides and approved by the pope denounced feminism for attempting to blur distinctions between men and women and threatening the institution of families based on a mother and a father, the Associated Press reported July 31.

The document was addressed to bishops worldwide as part of a Vatican effort to protect the family. Women’s issues, it states, are marked by a tendency “to emphasize strongly conditions of subordination in order to give rise to antagonism: women, in order to be themselves, must make themselves the adversaries of men,” according to a report by the Associated Press.

That type of feminist attitude “has its most immediate and lethal effects in the structure of the family,” the Vatican said. Furthermore, obscuring the differences between sexes has enormous consequences, including calling “into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father.”

Besides criticizing radical feminism, the Vatican document reinforced its support of women who want to pursue the biblical role of their gender. The document said women should not be stigmatized or penalized financially for wanting to be homemakers, according to the AP. Women nevertheless “should be present in the world of work and … have access to positions of responsibility which allow them to inspire the politics of nations and to promote innovative solutions to economic and social problems,” the Vatican said.

“From the first moment of their creation, man and woman are different, and will remain so for eternity,” the document said.

MISS AMERICA CUTS TALENT — After more than 60 years of talent competitions during the Miss America pageant, producers are cutting the segment from the show in order to save time. This year’s pageant, set for Sept. 18, will be the first to feature a videotaped montage from talent routines in preliminary competition, and only one contestant will be chosen to perform live during the show, the AP reported July 29. Other portions of the pageant, including the swimsuit competition, will remain the same.

Miss America CEO Art McMaster said the reason for dropping the talent feature is ABC-TV has asked that the program be reduced to two hours for broadcasting.

“It’s the cornerstone of our organization. It’s what sets us apart,” McMaster said, referring to the talent competition. “If it were up to me, I’d show all 52 talents on TV. But when you’re in a collaborative effort, as we are with ABC, there had to be a compromise somewhere.”

The talent portion of the Miss America pageant, which often includes baton twirlers, opera singers and piano players, was introduced in 1935 and became mandatory in 1938, AP said. Talent routines once accounted for 40 percent of a contestant’s score but were reduced to 20 percent by 2003. To make up for the axed segment, the casual wear, swimsuit and evening wear portions will count for 20 percent each instead of 10 percent, McMaster said.

“It’s a tragedy,” Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry said. “That’s what separates us from the type of contestant that goes to Miss USA. Our young ladies get into it for the scholarships and the talent.”

Last year’s pageant broadcast hit an all-time low with 10.3 million viewers.

CINGULAR DROPS SPONSORSHIP — Cingular Wireless, one of the nation’s leading cell phone service providers, has announced it is pulling its sponsorship of “Celebrity Poker Showdown” because language used on the show and the depiction of excessive alcohol use are not appropriate in the context of their guidelines, The Wall Street Journal reported July 9. Cingular said it had no problem with the gambling elements of the show.

Celebrity Poker Showdown is broadcast on Bravo and features actors, musicians and athletes playing cards for charity. Cingular has been one of the key sponsors and funded the $250,000 prize pool. But the wireless company noticed shots of tequila were flowing too freely and language used by contestants had become too racy. By Cingular’s count, The Journal said, one episode included 17 instances of drinking.

NBC Universal, which owns Bravo, released a statement saying it respects Cingular’s stance but believes Celebrity Poker Showdown “delivers the fun, energy and excitement of Las Vegas to a broad audience in an entertaining manner that is totally within our own point of view and guidelines.”

But according to a New York ad tracking firm, Cingular has sponsored several programs that are far more racy than Celebrity Poker Showdown, The Journal said. Those programs include the MTV reality show “The Osbournes” as well as crude movies such as “Bachelor Party” and “American Psycho.”

MTV TO LAUNCH CHANNEL FOR HOMOSEXUALS — MTV plans to start a new channel devoted entirely to promoting the homosexual lifestyle, and the channel will be part of the basic cable package, according to an alert from the American Family Association.

The channel, called Logo, will feature such shows as “My Fabulous Gay Wedding” and special appearances by Cher, Melissa Etheridge and other leaders of the homosexual movement, according to Reuters. Viacom, which owns MTV, plans to launch the channel in as many as 15 million homes in February 2005.

Mike Haley, a former homosexual who is now a member of Focus on the Family’s public policy division, told The New York Times he worries the network will encourage young people to consider themselves homosexual.

“You have a kid who is looking to fit in, and here you have a network that looks very inviting, very accepting, and this young kid is going to get a false representation of what homosexuality has to offer,” Haley said. “I really am sad and fearful for these kids who are going to want to be as happy and as happy-go-lucky as Will is on ‘Will and Grace.'”

AFA is urging people to call their local cable providers and ask that the new channel not be included in their cable packages.

CHILDREN FEAR SCHOOL VIOLENCE — While violence in public schools declined during the past decade, the number of teens skipping school for fear of getting hurt has increased, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC attributed the rise to an increase in schoolyard threats and lingering fear from school shootings in the 1990s such as the Columbine tragedy.

More than one out of every 20 high school students — 5.4 percent — skipped at least one day of school because of safety concerns in 2003, the CDC said, according to the AP. That number is up from 4.4 percent in 1993.

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  • Erin Curry