Bible Indicates Way to Happiness, Says John Paul II

Greets the Pontifical Biblical Commission in Audience

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In the Bible, God not only reveals himself but also the path to happiness, says John Paul II.



The Pope analyzed the relation between the Bible and morality when he met today with the participants in the annual plenary assembly of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, an institution under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The assembly continues through Friday.

"This is a theme that regards not only believers but, in a certain sense, every person of good will," the Holy Father said.

"In fact, through the Bible, God speaks and reveals himself and indicates the solid basis and certain orientation for human behavior," he said.

The Pope pointed out the "fundamental behaviors of biblical morality." These are: "knowing God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ; recognizing his infinite goodness; knowing with a grateful and sincere soul that 'all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights'; discovering in the gifts that God has given us the duties that he has entrusted to us; acting in full awareness of our responsibilities in his regard."

John Paul II added: "The Bible presents to us the inexhaustible riches of this revelation of God and of his love for humanity. The duty of your common commitment is to facilitate for the Christian people access to this treasure."

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, president of the commission, is overseeing the assembly's sessions being held in St. Martha's House in the Vatican. The commission's secretary-general, Jesuit Father Klemens Stock, is also on hand.

The assembly began with the commission's 20 members making their own contribution to the topic of the meeting -- the Bible and morality.

In his greeting to the Pope during an audience, Cardinal Ratzinger said that "the relation between the Bible and morality" is a critical issue.

"In contemporary society there is a growing expectation for a non-confessional ethic, for a so-called lay morality produced by reason alone and independent of any revelation," the cardinal said.

"Human reason is certainly able to know and to formulate valid moral norms," he acknowledged. "However, it is fragile and limited and is not able to reveal to itself its origin and its ultimate meaning, as it is the reason of sinful man."

"Therefore, faith is necessary to understand fully the moral contents of the human condition," Cardinal Ratzinger said. The moral law, he added, quoting No. 1950 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, can be defined as "God's pedagogy."

"The moral law is the work of divine Wisdom," the cardinal said. "Its biblical meaning can be defined as fatherly instruction, God's pedagogy. It prescribes for man the ways, the rules of conduct that lead to the promised beatitude; it proscribes the ways of evil which turn him away from God and his love. It is at once firm in its precepts and, in its promises, worthy of love."

"The Christian does not live and understand his faith or his moral life on his own. The access to faith in Jesus Christ, who offers salvation, takes place through the mediation of a living Tradition, the Church: through this Tradition, Christians receive the 'living voice of the Gospel,' as the faithful expression of divine wisdom and will," he stressed.

For this reason, "it is the responsibility of the Church always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, including those referring to the social order, as well as to pass judgment on all human affairs, to the degree called for by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls," as indicated in Canon 747 of the Code of Canon Law.

The last two documents of the Pontifical Biblical Commission are "The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible" (2001), and "The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church" (1993).