Pope Benedict XVI will take part in a continuous Bible reading for the Italian state broadcaster RAI, it has been announced. He will begin the six-day marathon recitation by reading the first chapter of Genesis in Italian on October 5.
The Pope’s reading will take about an hour. Organizers have not decided whether to broadcast the Pope’s reading live or to prerecord it, according to ANSA. Pope Benedict has reportedly expressed a preference to read live from St. Peter’s Basilica.
“I think the fundamental element that convinced Benedict XVI to take part in the television program was the fact that he will not be commenting but simply giving a pure reading of the text, a pure announcement of the Word,'' said Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Monsignor Ravasi added that the Pope’s participation will be an “appeal” to the Catholic Church to return to “studying and deepening its knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, to find again that base element and point of departure.”
The Pope’s reading will be followed by a reading from Rome’s Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, who will read Genesis in Hebrew. The recitation will close on October 10 with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who will read the 22nd chapter of the Book of Revelation.
A total of 1,200 people will take part in the project, including cardinals, rabbis, politicians, academics, athletes, students, soldiers, and factory workers. Other languages will be used; for instance, the beginning of St. John’s Gospel will be read in Greek.
Giuseppe De Carli, the head of RAI’s Vatican Department, said Muslims too could participate in the project.
“Even though the Bible is not a sacred book for people of the Islamic faith, if they would like to read a passage we have nothing against it,” De Carli said, according to ANSA.