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Church set to mark 150th anniversary of Immaculate Conception dogma

Pope John Paul II is leading celebrations for Wednesday's 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception dogma, which include a four-day international congress, a commemorative liturgy involving Pope John Paul II, and a special "Concert for Immaculate Mary" in the Vatican's audience hall.

The dogma asserts that Mary, Mother of Jesus, was preserved from original sin, that evil does not have power over everything, and that, in the Church and the entire world, there is a certain space and degree of liberty free from corruption.

The Pope went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes on August 14-15 to celebrate this dogma. And, many times, he commended the fate of the world to the Immaculate Conception, sign of hope.

Catholic News Service reports that some Vatican officials have admitted that while Marian devotion remains strong in the church, the Immaculate Conception is a complex concept that has interested theologians more than the ordinary faithful.

"There's been an incredible dumbing-down of Catholics in the last generation or two, so there's probably a fair amount of confusion about this," said Monsignor Arthur Calkins, a Vatican official and a member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy.

For one thing, Monsignor Calkins said, some people wrongly assume the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Christ. In fact, it refers to the belief that Mary, by special divine favor, was without sin from the moment she was conceived.

"People today simply are less and less aware of original sin. And without that awareness, the Immaculate Conception makes no sense," said one Vatican official.

At Lourdes in August, Pope John Paul II said: "It is with intimate joy that we are preparing ourselves to celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which, this year, has a special meaning. We commemorate in fact the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of this important Marian dogma."

Immaculate Conception: Church marks anniversary of difficult dogma (Catholic News Service 3/12/04)
Pope invites the faithful to honour the Immaculate Conception ( 5/12/04)

Immaculate Conception (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Immaculate Conception and Assumption (Catholic Answers)
The Mary Page (University of Dayton)
Women for Faith & Family - The Immaculate Conception

Pope set to follow pilgrim trail to Lourdes (CathNews 11/8/04)
Pope celebrates Feast of Immaculate Conception (CathNews 9/12/03)

Pope calls for destruction of land mines ( 5/12/04)
Pope to preside at Mass for the 150th anniversary of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic News Agency 3/12/04)
Comic book on life of the Pope published in Poland (Catholic News Agency 3/12/04)
Catholic papers should challenge culture, Pope says (Catholic World News 3/12/04)
Diocesan papers: "Pulpits" for announcing gospel of truth (Vatican Information Service 3/12/04)
Mass for 150th anniversary of dogma Immaculate Conception (Vatican Information Service 3/12/04)
21st Marian Mariological International Congress (Vatican Information Service 3/12/04)
Pope Urges Total Destruction of Land-Mine Stockpiles (Zenit 3/12/04)
John Paul II Makes Appeal to Catholic Newspapers (Zenit 3/12/04)
Prayer Prepares the Heart for Suffering, Says Pope (Zenit 3/12/04)
Retreat for Priests to Reflect on Divine Mercy (Zenit 3/12/04)
Reflections on Eucharist in Light of "Adoro Te Devote" (Part 1) (Zenit 3/12/04)

6 Dec 2004