VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Late this afternoon, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration to journalists:
"During this evening's Easter vigil, the Holy Father will administer Baptism to seven people, five women and two men from various countries.
"As is known, the Holy Father normally administers the Sacrament of Baptism on two liturgical occasions. In the Sistine Chapel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord he administers Baptism to a group of new-born infants. On the Easter vigil he administers Baptism and the other two Sacraments of Christian initiation (Confirmation and Communion) to a group of adults of varying nationalities and conditions who have followed the necessary spiritual and catechetical preparation, which Christian tradition calls the 'catechumenate'.
"The catechumens who will receive Baptism tonight come from Italy, Cameroon, China, the United States and Peru. Among them is Magdi Allam, a well-known journalist of Egyptian origin, vice-director 'ad personam' of the Italian newspaper 'Corriere della Sera'.
"For the Catholic Church, anyone who asks to receive Baptism - following a profound individual exploration, a free choice and adequate preparation - has the right to receive it.
"For his part, the Holy Father administers Baptism during the course of the Easter liturgy to the catechumens who have been presented to him, without making any 'distinction between people', in other words considering them all as equally important before the love of the Lord and welcome in the community of the Church".
OP/BAPTISM/ALLAM VIS 080326 (260)