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March 8, 1999



On his weekly call-in radio show Live with Cardinal Bevilacqua, Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, announced that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's toll-free "Bless Me" hotline will continue to operate indefinitely. "We have been amazed by the overwhelming response to the Bless Me hotline," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "We have opened the door for people return to the Church, to reconcile with their families, their Church and their God. Evidently, people have been waiting for us to reach out to them."

On November 16, 1998, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia initiated the toll-free hotline, accompanied by an intensive radio and television advertising campaign. The hotline allows people calling 1-877-BLESS ME to speak directly and anonymously with a priest. Since mid-November, more than 11,000 calls have been received on the hotline. Originally, the hotline was to end after Reconciliation Weekend, March 19 and 20, 1999, when Catholics throughout the Archdiocese are being encouraged to return to the sacrament of Confession at 80 specially chosen Millennium Churches.

On March 1, 1999, a Bless Me website was established. In its first week of operation, the website had well over 1,000 "hits." In addition to being able to call the toll-free hotline, people can now e-mail their questions and concerns to priests at the World Wide Web address After one week, there have been close to 100 questions e-mailed to the website, and priests throughout the Archdiocese have been called in to action to help respond to those e-mails. Those accessing the website will also be able to e- mail questions about their faith by clicking "Disciples on the Internet." They can also obtain a list of Millennium Churches participating in Reconciliation Weekend, and view a recorded message from Cardinal Bevilacqua.

"The Holy Father has called for a ‘new evangelization,'" said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "We are heeding this call to help people on their own faith journey. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is using all the tools available in today's world to reach out to people."


Editor's Note: Cardinal Bevilacqua will be available to discuss the continuation of the Bless Me campaign at his weekly radio show tonight at WZZD 990 AM, 117 Ridge Pike, Lafayette Hill, PA. Live with Cardinal Bevilacqua airs from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. For directions to the radio station, please call the Office for Communications at 215-587-3747.

Cathy Rossi

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