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Canadian Bible Society publishes 300,000 Special Edition Gospels for World Youth Day

TORONTO, Ontario, July 17, 2002 — The Canadian Bible Society is in the final stages of preparing to hand out 300,000 Gospels of Matthew; the largest volume distribution of Scriptures ever accomplished for a single event, in the almost 100 year history of the Society. The Gospels will be given out in Toronto this July 18 – 28 to those young Catholics, from 150 countries around the globe, who register for the Pastoral Program of the 17th World Youth Day celebrations. Every pocket-sized (3 " x 5") book will contain the Gospel in four languages; English, French, Spanish and Italian.

300,000 copies of the Gospel of Matthew will be given to young Catholics attending World Youth Day. Front cover of the Gospel depicts a painting by Guido Reni, St. Matthew and The Angel, oil on canvas. (Photo: Robert Simpson, Canadian Bible Society)

[Click to download full size image : 732 K]

The Gospel of Matthew is the first book in the Bible's New Testament. Believed to have been authored by Matthew (also known as Levi), a former tax collector and disciple of Christ; it was written prior to A.D. 70. It is one of the Four Gospels, and it tells the story of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The word "gospel" means Good News.

"We believe the dramatic story of God's love can bring hope and peace to today's youth," said Serge Rheaume, Directeur du Secteur francophone for the Canadian Bible Society. "This is an exceptional opportunity to freely offer the Good News of salvation to these young people, at a time when they will gather together to learn about and celebrate their faith."

The project began roughly one year ago, when Rheaume met with Bishop Jacques Berthelet, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Father Thomas Rosica, Director of the 17th World Youth Day celebrations. Both men expressed enthusiasm for the Canadian Bible Society's offer to produce and distribute the 300,000 Gospels.

Rheaume says the Gospel of Matthew was selected in accordance with the Roman Catholic "liturgical" (having to do with the rites of public worship) calendar. "To allow Catholics to have access to as many biblical texts as possible during the liturgical celebrations, Bible readings follow a cycle of three years; usually referred to as A, B and C. During the course of each of these years, one specific gospel is primarily read at mass. This year is the year A, when Matthew is the Gospel used in priority. Year B uses mostly the Gospel of Mark completed by John, and Luke is the Gospel of choice during year C," he said.

The theme of World Youth Day 2002 is taken from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 13 – 14: "You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world."

The front cover of the Gospel depicts a painting by Guido Reni, St. Matthew and The Angel, oil on canvas. This painting is now on display at the Royal Ontario Museum, as part of a special exhibition of Vatican treasures, to coincide with World Youth Day.

The back cover features the World Youth Day logo and a photograph of young people raising the World Youth Day cross. The books will include a brief introduction to the Scripture text (providing a short background for readers who may not be familiar with the Bible), the World Youth Day prayer and the Pope's benediction, handwritten.

The actual production and printing of the Gospels, a task that would normally require five to six months, will be squeezed into the span of about five weeks. But staff at The Canadian Bible Society are not strangers to the hurdles involved in organizing such a massive project. In 1990, many thousands of copies of the Gospel of John and other portions of Scripture were distributed at Mission Quebec, the Billy Graham Crusade.

Rheaume says, it's all just part of the vision of the Bible Society. "The Canadian Bible Society is not a Catholic organization, nor a Protestant organization, nor an Evangelical organization. We are here to touch everybody with the Word of God, and to touch their hearts and to change their lives."


Through its sixteen District Offices, the Canadian Bible Society (headquartered in Toronto, Ontario) gives Scriptures for free to Canadian Forces recruits, the visually impaired, new Canadian citizens, seminary students, prison inmates and other communities of need. The Canadian Bible Society translates, publishes and distributes the Bible throughout Canada and has Bibles, New Testaments and other Scriptures available in 111 foreign languages as well as 23 Canadian aboriginal languages. Formally founded in 1904 and chartered in 1906, the Canadian Bible Society is a member of the United Bible Societies, a fellowship of 137 national Bible societies. The societies work in partnership with churches and other Bible agencies in more than 200 countries around the globe


Serge Rheaume, Directeur du Secteur francophone
The Canadian Bible Society
Phone: 514-524-7873
/ www.biblesociety.ca

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