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POPE-TV Jul-3-2008 (440 words) xxxi

Pope to be first reader in Bible-reading marathon for TV

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- On the evening of the opening of the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible, Pope Benedict XVI will serve as the first reader on Italian state television's Bible-reading marathon.

Plans for "The Bible, Day and Night" were unveiled during a July 3 press conference in the Rome offices of RAI, the state-owned broadcasting company.

Beginning Oct. 5, each of about 1,200 people will read for between four and eight minutes until all 73 books of the Catholic editions of the Bible have been read. No commentary will be offered and the only pause provided will be a musical interlude every 90 minutes.

Pope Benedict's reading from the Book of Genesis will be broadcast on RaiUno, RAI's flagship station. Most of the other readings expected to take place over the course of seven days and six nights will be broadcast on RaiEdu, a satellite channel.

Immediately after the pope reads from Genesis in Italian, Rome's chief Rabbi Riccardo di Segni will read the same text in Hebrew, organizers said.

As of early July, they said, it was not certain whether the pope would join other readers for a live broadcast from Rome's Basilica of the Holy Cross or whether his reading would be prerecorded.

While the Bible-reading marathon coincides with a Catholic event and was organized with Vatican assistance, Italy's Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish communities also are involved and will have representatives among the readers, RAI said.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told the July 3 press conference that while the pope normally does not get involved in such events he signed on after learning that the initiative involves "simply reading the texts, therefore a pure proclamation of the word."

The head of the Italian Bible Society, Daniele Garrone, a Protestant theologian, told the press conference: "RAI's project, 'The Bible, Day and Night,' will bring the sacred Scriptures to the public square, to that modern public square which is television. This free, public circulation of the Bible has been the objective of the Bible Society for more than 200 years."

Garrone said that, rather than seeing the program as a joint Bible reading under the leadership of Pope Benedict, people should see it as "everyone together before the Scriptures."

"We will all be together on the same level," he said. "It is a beautiful image of the church as a creature of the word. It is a lesson for the divided churches, reunited before the word that calls them, guides them and forgives them."


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