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 CNS Story:

PAULINE YEAR Jan-21-2008 (530 words) xxxi

Cardinal outlines Rome basilica's activities for Pauline year

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Dedicating 2008-2009 to reading the letters of St. Paul and rediscovering the zeal that led him to establish Christian communities throughout the Mediterranean basin, the Catholic Church also hopes to promote Christian unity, an Italian cardinal said.

Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, said that if Christians seriously follow the apostle's example of allowing Christ to work in and through them, they naturally will draw closer to one another.

Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the special Pauline year, which will begin June 28, to coincide with the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul's birth. In Rome, the basilica where his tomb is located will be the focal point of Catholic as well as ecumenical activities.

Presenting a brief outline of the kinds of activities the basilica will host during the year, Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo also announced Jan. 21 that a special Web site -- www.annopaolino.org -- had been launched and would be updated as events are confirmed.

Among the planned initiatives, he said, the Benedictine monks who staff the basilica already have decided to give a more public, more Pauline and more ecumenical emphasis to their celebration of evening prayer on Fridays.

The vespers service, usually sung with Gregorian chant, will include a five-minute reflection on a passage from the writings of St. Paul, he said, and visiting Catholic or other Christian groups who would like to participate in or even lead the prayer may do so.

"We have decided not to impose a detailed ecumenical program, but to offer space for a variety of initiatives," he said.

The main ecumenical initiative is the dedication of a special chapel in the basilica for use by pilgrim groups belonging to other Christian traditions, he said.

The cardinal announced in mid-December that work had begun to transform the basilica's 20th-century baptistery into an ecumenical chapel.

At a Jan. 21 press conference, he said the baptismal font would remain in the chapel as a sign that "baptism is the sacrament that unites all those who believe in Christ and have been marked by the seal of redemption."

"The chapel, in addition to its function as a place of prayer, is filled with symbols that highlight and should lead to Christian unity," he said. In addition to the baptismal font, he pointed to placement in the chapel of an ancient altar thought to contain the remains of St. Timothy of Antioch and other fourth-century martyrs.

"The martyrs of the first centuries witness to the original unity of the whole church," he said.

Also, the cardinal said, the walls of the chapel are decorated with marble tiles from all over the world, "precisely to indicate the diversity and unity of all Christians."

One project still under consideration for the Pauline year, he said, is a study-cruise that would take pilgrims to places where Paul visited and preached in Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Italy and Malta.

Regarding the stop in Malta where the apostle was shipwrecked on his way to Rome, he assured reporters, "a re-enactment of the shipwreck is not planned."

END


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