02/16/2023, 19.00
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Pope: Persecuted Christians carry the Bible in their baggage

In his meeting with the United Bible Societies, Francis mentioned those who, even today, are forced to flee their land and take God’s word with them and so spread it. About 1.5 billion people in the world still cannot read the Scriptures in their own language. The pontiff encourages the Bible’s translation and distribution on the various continents.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met with a delegation from the United Bible Societies (UBS), led by its secretary general, Dirk Gevers.

In his address, the pontiff said the Bible is the baggage Christians carry when, persecuted even today, they are forced to leave their lands. Yet it is through such witness that God’s word spreads across the world.

Speaking about the work of the Apostles, he said that, after Easter and enlightened by the power of the Spirit, they “explained the meaning of the Scriptures in light of the mystery of Jesus Christ, and warned of those who misuse or exploit that word for base interests.”

Today too, “The word is proclaimed, heard and lived in situations both favourable and unfavourable, in different ways and in various languages, and confronts grave difficulties and persecutions in a world often deaf to the voice of God.”

“The early Church lived from the word, proclaimed it and, when fleeing from persecution, brought it along as its only baggage.  Persecutions became occasions for spreading the word, and never for leaving it behind. [. . .] My thoughts turn to all those Christians who in this, our own time, are forced to flee from their lands.

“Men and women who, like the first believers, carry with them in their flight the word they have received. They cherish their faith as a treasure that gives meaning to the harsh and, at times, devastating situations that they must face.  Embracing the cross of Christ, they revere the word of God which ‘will stand forever’.”

Founded in 1946, UBS is an interfaith organisation that brings together and coordinates the work of about 150 Bible societies around the world, tasked with translating, printing, and disseminating the biblical text, paying particular attention to the situation of the most economically disadvantaged countries in the world.

According to UBS, 1.5 billion people in the world cannot read the Bible in their own language. Some 400 translation projects are currently underway.

The pope praised UBS’s work, calling it a “praiseworthy endeavour. The data you publish are significant, and I am pleased to know that the work of the United Bible Societies is increasingly carried out in cooperation with many Catholics in a number of countries.”.

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