Synod Eliciting Drive to Promote Scripture

Organizers Hoping for "Renewed Passion" for Word of God

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By Mirko Testa

ROME, JAN. 8, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Preparation for the upcoming Synod of Bishops is bringing about a plethora of initiatives to promote the word of God, and some episcopal conferences have adopted the theme for their own pastoral programs.

Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the synod, affirmed this when he spoke at the Pontifical Lateran University about preparation for the 12th Synod of Bishops, to be held Oct. 5-26 in the Vatican.

"Publications about sacred Scripture have been made available, both at the scientific level, and for popular use," he said. "Conferences dedicated to the study of the synod's theme are being organized, and many people, especially men and women religious in cloisters, are promising their prayers."

Archbishop Eterovic gave an overview of past synods, explaining that the topic of Scripture had been a pastoral concern, even before the synods of the 1990s.

"The choice of this theme was very well received by the universal Church," he affirmed, "as is shown, in first place, by the very many responses" to the "lineamenta," or background paper, for the meeting.

He explained that of the 152 institutions consulted, 99 responded, suggesting 20 themes, and of those, 17 focused on the word of God.

2 banquets

Archbishop Eterovic stated that a synod dedicated to the word of God is closely linked to the previous synod on the Eucharist. The word of God is one of the two banquets at the Eucharistic celebration, he said.

The ordinary council of the General Secretariat of the Synod -- made up of 15 members, 12 of whom are selected by the previous synod and three named by the Pope -- will examine the preparatory material this month. They will prepare a working document that will be used to encourage reflection in the entire Church as the synod nears.

Moreover, the archbishop added, the "lineamenta" has been published in 10 languages, including Arabic and Chinese. This, he said, indicates the great expectations the theme has brought about.

"Dei Verbum"

Archbishop Eterovic said a rediscovery of "Dei Verbum" is expected, "one of the most important documents of the Second Vatican Council."

The synod will also have an ecumenical focus, the archbishop affirmed, explaining that delegates from other Churches and Christian communities will attend.

"The Synod of Bishops should turn to certain gaps in knowledge of the Bible, to partial interpretations and to omissions in the field of biblical apostolate," he said. "Perhaps 'Dei Verbum' has not been sufficiently welcomed at the level of the universal Church." The archbishop expressed his hope that the synod would contribute "to recovering the passion for the word of God in the Church."

He added: "We will support a new effort in taking care of the translations of the Bible, with a presentation that is designed for the faithful, including an essential and necessary commentary to accompany them in their ecclesial reading.

"The synodal reflection, therefore, should turn to the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, by which the Church knows the sacred deposit of faith, which is authentically interpreted by the magisterium, that is, by the Pope and the bishops in communion with him."

The archbishop contended that there is a need for "a new impulse toward knowing Scripture that corresponds […] to the knowledge of Christ."

"A renewed familiarity with the word of God," he said, "could have a positive influence in the pastoral activity of the Church and the contemporary world, especially in the promotion of peace, justice, hope and charity."