VATICAN CITY (CNS) – With a hymn and a prayer, Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella presented the Vatican's initial calendar of events for the Year of Faith, which begins with a Mass Oct. 11 in St. Peter's Square.
Archbishop Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, said the pope has invited as concelebrants bishops and theologians who, like the pontiff, served as members or experts at the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council.
The archbishop said he hoped about 35 "council fathers" would be able to join the presidents of national bishops' conferences and bishops participating in the world Synod of Bishops in concelebrating the opening Mass.
During a news conference at the Vatican June 21, Archbishop Fisichella unveiled the sheet music for the official hymn for the Year of Faith, "Credo, Domine, Adauge Nobis Fidem" (I believe, Lord, increase our faith).
"I'll spare you my musical interpretation," he told reporters, smiling.
He also distributed copies of the official Year of Faith logo and prayer card, which features a mosaic image of Christ from the cathedral in Cefalu, Italy. The Nicene Creed is printed on the back of the cards, with the idea that the profession of faith would become "a daily prayer, learned by heart, as it was in the first centuries of Christianity," the archbishop said.
Archbishop Fisichella also announced that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments had just approved prayer texts in Latin and Italian for a special "Mass for New Evangelization." The archbishop's office is translating the Latin text into English, Spanish and other languages and hopes to have the congregation's approval of the translations by the time the Year of Faith opens, he said.
Pope Benedict called the Year of Faith to strengthen Catholics who go to church, reach out to those who have left but still yearn for God in their lives, offer a response to those who are searching for meaning and help those who think they do not need God, he said.
"We are not hiding the fact that there is a crisis of faith, but it is only when one becomes completely aware of a crisis that one can find ways to remedy it," the archbishop said.
He said the pope decided it was right to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with a year dedicated to encouraging Catholics to study, profess and demonstrate their faith.
The Vatican launched a website – www.annusfidei.va – containing information about the Year of Faith and the calendar of special events Pope Benedict will celebrate during the year.
Many of the pope's traditional appointments, like the Jan. 25 celebration marking the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the Feb. 2 prayer with religious, will be incorporated into the Year of Faith.
But other events have been added, including a celebration April 28 during which the pope will confirm a group of young people and meet with others who recently have been or are about to be confirmed in their home countries.
On June 2, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ in most countries, the pope will lead the solemn adoration of the Eucharist and is asking every cathedral and parish to have an hour of silent contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament at exactly the same hour, Archbishop Fisichella said.
Two weeks later, June 16, Pope Benedict will preside over a celebration of the church's witness to the dignity and value of every human life, the archbishop said. And July 7, 2013, he will meet with seminarians and religious-order novices, who will make a pilgrimage to Rome to demonstrate "the joy of their decision to follow the Lord in serving his church."
The cultural events planned, the archbishop said, include a "huge concert" in St. Peter's Square June 22, 2013. Archbishop Fisichella was not ready to reveal the conductor's name, but he promised it was someone well-known. And, he said, the concert is likely to involve at least two orchestras and three choirs.
The Year of Faith is scheduled to conclude Nov. 24, 2013.