Pope reads the Bible on TV 'to reach hearts and minds of today,' Vatican official says


Vatican City, Jul 8, 2008 - The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, said this week that the marathon reading of the Bible in which Pope Benedict XVI will participate in October aims "to reach the hearts and minds of the men and women of today."

In an article entitled, "To recover the treasure of culture and faith," the archbishop noted that the "reading of the entire Bible on Italian television is without a doubt a spiritual and cultural event of great importance that will certainly have a notable impact worldwide. It will take place next October 5 and the first reader will be Pope Benedict XVI, who will read the first chapter of Genesis live."

Archbishop Ravasi pointed to recent polls in various countries that show that there is little knowledge of the Scriptures and that people are not even physically familiar with the book itself. He called this a "spiritual and cultural poverty for which everyone, believers and non-believers, should be responsible."

The program will begin airing in October to coincide with the opening of the Synodal assembly on the Word of God, he continued, adding that the initiative aims to return focus to the Scriptures as a "sign of hope for today's world."

The archbishop said the reading of the Bible will take place at the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem and will be broadcast by the RAI network. The more than 1,162 readings will be spread out over 46 episodes lasting three hours each, in fifteen minute segments. A giant screen will be placed outside the Basilica allowing passersby to follow the readings.