Cardinal Bertone Closes Bible Marathon

Urges an Opening to Scripture

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ROME, OCT. 12, 2008 ( A Bible-reading marathon on Italian television, which was kicked off by Benedict XVI, drew to a close with his secretary of state reading the final passages of Revelation.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone read the last chapter of Revelation on «Bibbia Giorno e Notte» (Bible Day and Night), a program broadcast by RAI where the Bible was read from beginning to end in various languages by nearly 1,200 readers. The Pope called the event "a fitting accompaniment to the synod of bishops on the Word of God.»

The marathon began Sunday, Oct. 5, and ended Saturday evening. The site of the reading was the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusaleme in Rome

Readers included, among others, 40 participants in the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the synod of bishops on «The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,» underway in Rome through Oct. 26.
In a final address, Cardinal Bertone called upon everyone to «open yourselves to the Bible, which will carry you beyond yourselves.»

The project was called the longest public television broadcast in history, at 139 hours. Readers came from 64 countries; almost 4 million viewers watched the first hour of reading last Sunday; 122,000 people followed the daily readings in the basilica.

The event was ecumenical and interreligious: Among the readers, 30 were from Protestant communities, 17 were Jewish, six were Muslim, and there were representatives of the Orthodox Churches.

Only two of the readings were pre-recorded: Benedict XVI’s from the Vatican and Cardinal Carlo Martini’s from Gallarate.

Among the readers were three former presidents of Italy.

Speaking to Vatican Radio, the abbot of the basilica, Cistercian Father Simone Fioraso, spoke about the experience of a «rediscovery» of the Word of God, saying it immersed the basilica in an atmosphere of deep spirituality.

«It was also very beautiful to meet many readers who before or after reading the Word of God asked to go to confession and reconcile with God,» he said. «A young Muslim woman came who wanted to read and she had not registered, so there was nothing. […] And a woman who teaches catechism here told her: ‘We’ll read together.’

«And it was wonderful to see how they read the Word together, putting the Word at the center of their life. I believe that from this Word a friendship was born between them, which had its beginnings here. […]

«Perhaps the Word that divided in times past will today become and remain the Word that, as always, unites all hearts and all men.»

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