Tue, Oct 07, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Religious leaders, stars participate in TV Bible program

IN ALL SERIOUSNESS Oscar-winning director Roberto Benigni joined in a weeklong marathon to read passages of the holy text on Italian TV

AP , ROME

Pope Benedict XVI’s “in the beginning” started off a weeklong Bible-reading marathon on Italian television on Sunday.

RAI state TV began its proTurks protest in Istanbul on Sunday against Kurdish rebels who killed 15 Turkish soldiers on Friday on the Turkey-Iraq border. Tens of thousands of people in cities across Turkey attended the funerals of the soldiers. PHOTO: APith Benedict reciting the first chapter of the book of Genesis — the holy text’s opening verses about the creation of the world.

The marathon will feature more than 1,200 people reading the Old and New Testament over seven days and six nights.

While the pope recited his segment from the Vatican, most of the reading will be done live in Rome’s Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, a basilica built in the fourth century.

In addition to Roman Catholics, members of other religions, including Jews, Protestants and Orthodox Christians will participate.

Benedict, who appeared on a giant screen mounted in the church to start the marathon, was followed by Bishop Ilarion, a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Oscar-winning director Roberto Benigni was also among those reading on Sunday.

Outside the packed basilica a crowd gathered in front of the torch-lit facade.

Every few chapters the reading was being interrupted for Christian or Jewish religious music and opera star Andrea Bocelli led the first interlude on Sunday by singing Bach’s Praise the Lord.

“The word of God will enter the homes and accompany the lives of families and individual people,” Benedict said of the program following his traditional noontime blessing on Sunday. “If welcomed, this seed will not fail to bring abundant fruits.”

Addressing faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Benedict noted the televised marathon would run parallel to a worldwide meeting of bishops on the relevance of the Bible for contemporary Catholics. The meeting of 253 bishops, known as a synod of bishops, will run from Monday to Oct. 26.

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