Announcing Easter

VATICAN CITY — It’s an age-old tradition on the feast of the Epiphany to announce the date of Easter and the dates of the other liturgical feast days that revolve around it.


A priest reads the Gloria in a booklet as Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass on the feast of the Epiphany in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 6. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Today was no exception as a cantor sang the proclamation in Latin right before Pope Benedict XVI gave his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The cantor announced that in the Latin-rite this year Easter will be celebrated April 12, with Lent beginning Feb. 25,  Ash Wednesday.

Fast forward and the church will celebrate the Ascension May 21, Pentecost May 31, and Corpus Christi June 11.

The cantor ended by announcing Nov. 29 would be the first Sunday of Advent which will mean it’ll be looking a lot like Christmas — as usual — right after Thanksgiving.

How can 78 percent and 95 percent both be right?

An article we posted Jan. 5, “Survey finds most people support some restrictions on abortion,” detailed results of an online survey about people’s opinions on various types of restrictions and regulations on abortion.

Those who read the press release on the survey issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops might have noticed that it highlighted different statistics than the CNS article used.

The CNS story says, for instance, that 78 percent of those who participated in the survey favor requiring abortions to be performed only by licensed physicians. The USCCB’s press release cites that “95 percent favor laws ensuring that abortions be performed only by licensed physicians.”

The data reported in each was correct and was drawn from the same survey, conducted by Harris Interactive.

Say, what?

The difference lies in two phrases.

The USCCB press release prefaced the statistics it included with the phrase “among those expressing support or opposition to the six kinds of laws examined in the survey.” In other words, of those who indicated their opinion about this law, 95 percent expressed support for it.

The CNS story included the sentence,  “Between 5 percent and 9 percent of the participants in the survey declined to answer some of the questions.” In other words, 78 percent of 2,341 participants said they support these laws, but not everyone answered the question one way or another.

Primarily because it was simpler to be consistent, we opted to use the percentages of the whole group that participated in the survey rather than the different base statistics for who answered each question, as the USCCB press release did.

In trying to report the survey results in a way that was easy to follow, it seemed simplest to stick with one number of participants across the board. The alternative would have been to include for each number cited an explanation about how many people chose to answer that question.