06/12/2008, 00.00
VATICAN

Synod: need for primacy of the Word of God in Church's life and mission

The working document has been presented for the synod in October, which will focus above all on pastoral and missionary issues. The need to promote understanding of the Bible, and the danger of "fundamentalist" and ideological interpretations. Hopes for participation of the Chinese bishops.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Despite having been translated into 2,454 languages, the Bible is relatively unknown, sometimes overlooked, and on certain occasions exploited.  The word of God,  as it must be considered - even if it was only inspired, and not "dictated" to the prophets - is the origin and end of the Church, and will be viewed as such by the worldwide synod of bishops that will be held this autumn (October 5-26) at the Vatican, on the theme of "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church".

One fundamental step in the preparation of the meeting is the preparation of the "Instrumentum laboris", the working document, the result of the considerations and responses given on this topic by 13 synods of bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches, 113 bishops' conferences, 25 dicasteries of the Roman curia, and by the union of superiors general of the religious orders.

Presented today in the Vatican, the Instumentum is an 80-page volume that aims, in its various dimensions, as expressed by Archbishop Nikola Eterović, secretary general of the synod of bishops, to "foster understanding and love of the Word of God", in the certainty that this can "promote ecclesial communion, foment the universal vocation to salvation, reinvigorate the mission to those near and those far away, and renew the ingenuity of charity, seeking to contribute to the discovery of solutions to the many problems of contemporary man, who is hungry both for bread and for every word that comes from the mouth of God (cf. Mt. 4:4).  More concretely, the aim of the synod, according to the Instrumentum laboris, is above all of a pastoral and missionary nature".  This is a matter of affirming "the need to give primacy to the word of God in the life and mission of the Church" and also to find "the courage and creativity of a pedagogy of communication that is suited to the times", considering "the culture, the contexts of contemporary life, the world of communications" and its instruments, including the newest ones.

The document, in fact, emphasises that God "offers to the person not only some more less interesting information, on the strictly human and scientific level, but instead communicates to him the word of truth and salvation, and this requires an understanding on the part of the listener that is intelligent, vital, responsible, and therefore relevant".  God himself, in fact, is the "inspirer" of Scripture.  "The charism of inspiration", the document reads, "permits the affirmation that God is the author of the Bible in a way that does not exclude man himself as a true author.  In fact, unlike dictation, inspiration does not remove the personal freedom and capacity of the writer, but illuminates and inspires these".

As for interpretation, which raises so much hesitation on the part of the faithful, "a true interpretation of the Scripture as Word of God cannot be conducted except 'in Ecclesia', according to [the Church's] teaching", in order to avoid fundamentalist and ideological views. "There is no lack", the document affirms, "of risks of an arbitrary, reductive interpretation, due above all to fundamentalism, which, although it manifests the desire to remain faithful to the text,  mistakes the true nature of the text, incurring grave errors and generating useless conflicts.  There are also the so-called 'ideological' interpretations of the Bible, according to rigid presuppositions of a spiritual, social, political, or simply human nature, without the support of the faith, which go so far as to create opposition and separation between the written form attested to above all in the Bible, the living form of the proclamation, and the life experience of believers".

Finally, Archbishop Eterovic expressed the hope that the Chinese bishops might be able to attend to the synod, after having been banned in the past.  "We hope", he said, "that the Chinese bishops may also come, and in fact we invite all to pray that this may happen".

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