.- Pope Benedict XVI will participate in a first-ever question and answer session that will be televised Italy on Good Friday.
The program is one of several new initiatives aimed at bringing the image and words of the Pope into households around the world.
On March 13, Italy's national RaiUno Television station will officially launch promotions for a program to be aired on the anniversary of Jesus' deathâGood Friday.
The special is set to begin at 2:10 p.m. so that it is playing at 3:00 p.m., when Jesus is traditionally believed to have taken his last breath. The show will feature the Pope, who will answer three questions posed by viewers.
People will be able to write to RaiUno's âIn His Imageâ ("A Sua Immagine") program with suggestions for the three questions. All will focus on the life of Jesus.
Vatican Radio described the April 22 television event as âan absolute first.â
"In His Image" host Rosario Carello said that the idea is to bring "reflection" back to Good Friday programming.
"This sentiment has been lost," he said. For most television stations, Good Friday is âa day like any other for all the channels, there are even quarrels, idle gossip and things like that.â
In an attempt to swim against the prevailing current, the crew from Carello's program suggested reviving an old show that examined spectators' questions about Jesus. They thought there would be no one better than the Pope to respond to them.
It seemed "crazy" to think about proposing the idea to the pontiff, but they saw "something in Pope Benedict's style that caused them to at least propose this idea to him," said Carello.
âWe proposed it and here the Pope accepted.â
He called the opportunity to see and hear Pope Benedict through the program "extraordinary."
The announcement comes as the Vatican publishing house prepares to present the Pope's newest book in the Jesus of Nazareth series. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops and a Bible scholar, will lead an afternoon press conference at the Holy See's Press Office on March 10 for the release.
The book will be immediately available in seven languages. Publishing house director, Fr. Giuseppe Costa, told L'Osservatore Romano that 1.2 million copies have already been printed.
He was on hand at the March 9 general audience, along with representatives from the various international publishers of the book. Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio was there on behalf of Ignatius Press for the English edition.
Also present to greet the Pope at the audience was the veteran Vatican analyst Sandro Magister, along with two collaborators who recently released a book in Italian on the homilies of the Pope Benedict XVI.
The trio also spoke to the Pope about the new TV 2000 television program called "Sunday with Benedict XVI - Art, word, music." The program - to air for the first time on March 12 - will feature segments of the Pope's homilies, texts from the Sunday liturgy, commentary on related art by expert Msgr. Timothy Verdon and Gregorian chant tied into the same theme.