Benedict XVI Seen as Pope of the Bible
Prelates Reflect on "Verbum Domini"
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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Perhaps there was a need to refocus attention on the Bible, dusting it off, so to speak, and that is why the 2008 synodal assembly was on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church.
This was the suggestion made by the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal-designate Gianfranco Ravasi, when he presented "Verbum Domini," the postsynodal apostolic exhortation that is a fruit of that assembly.
The exhortation -- Benedict XVI's second -- was released Thursday. It is dated Sept. 30, feast of St. Jerome.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, as well as Archbishop Nikola Eterović and Monsignor Fortunato Frizza, secretary-general and undersecretary of the synod of bishops, respectively, also participated in the presentation of the document.
Archbishop Eterović reflected that the title of the document, "Word of the Lord," points to the continuity between the Old and New Testaments.
He noted several objectives of the exhortation, including rediscovery of the Word of God as a source of constant ecclesial renewal and promotion of the new evangelization.
Cardinal-designate Ravasi spoke of the document as both "highly theological and pastoral."
He also said it makes an invitation to a correct interpretation of Scripture. In this regard, the future cardinal cautioned against the dangers of fundamentalist groups, "which at times use a translation of a translation from English."
With biblical fundamentalism, he said, "material fidelity becomes infidelity to the content."
Archbishop Eterović also spoke of tools to help go deeper in reflecting on the message of the Word of God. He mentioned not only the liturgy, but also missions and pilgrimages.
And he said that Benedict XVI, in addition to synthesizing the main points of the synod, also enlightened the themes with key elements from his magisterium.
"One can conclude," the archbishop stated, "that the Holy Father Benedict XVI can be described as the Pope of the Word of God."
Mystery of love
Cardinal Ouellet said the document is one that shows that "God makes himself known to us as a mystery of infinite love in which from eternity the Father expresses his Word in the Holy Spirit."
"The Word, who from the beginning is with God and is God, reveals God himself to us in the dialogue of love between the Divine Persons and invites us to participate in it," he added.
The cardinal pointed out that "Verbum Domini" responds to the need of the Church at the beginning of the third millennium. He explained that during the 20th century there was a growing awareness of the need of the Word of God in topics such as liturgical reform, catechesis and biblical studies, but that "there still is a deficit to fill in regard to the spiritual life of the People of God."
"They have the right to be inspired on the whole and nourished by a more prayerful and more ecclesial approach to sacred Scripture," the cardinal added.
He also mentioned the almost 40 pages that Benedict XVI dedicated to the need to present a hermeneutics in a "clear and constructive" way, and his encouragement to biblical scholars, theologians and pastors to engage in "a constructive dialogue for the life and mission of the Church."
For Cardinal Ouellet, "Verbum Domini" underlines elements such as personal contemplation, liturgy and the personal and community life of believers.
"It also relaunches missionary activity and evangelization," he added, and "renews the Church's awareness of being loved and her mission to proclaim the Word of God with audacity and confidence."
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On ZENIT's Web page:
"Verbum Domini": www.zenit.org/article-30942?l=english