Synod To Focus on Proper Use of Scripture


Vatican, Jun. 12, 2008 - The Synod of Bishops, meeting in Rome in October 2008, will discuss ways to promote the prayerful reading, understanding, and proclamation of the Word of God.

At a Vatican press conference on June 12, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, introduced the instrumentum laboris, the working document, for the October Synod meeting, which is dedicated to a discussion of the Word of God. The archbishop explained that the Synod discussions will have "a pastoral and missionary character," with a focus on use of Scripture to spur Christian evangelization.

The Church should combat widespread "Biblical illiteracy" among the Catholic faithful, Archbishop Eterovic said. At the same time, the Synod will discuss the challenge posed by fundamental sects that promote misleading interpretations of the Scriptures. The instrumentum laboris focuses on a balanced approach to the Scriptures, reading the Bible carefully and relying on the authoritative guidance of the Church magisterium.

The Bible, the instrumentum laboris emphasizes, must be understood as the work of the Holy Spirit, a gift to Christ's Church. Reading the Scriptures in that light, observes the Preface of the working document, "leads from the the letter to the spirit and from the words to the Word of God." This prayerful approach is essential to avoid misinterpretations, the document continues, explaining: "Indeed, the words often conceal their true meaning, especially when considered from the literary and cultural point of view of the inspired authors and their way of understanding the world and its laws."

Archbishop Eterovic noted that this year's meeting, the 12th ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops, will convene after the inauguration of a special year dedicated to the memory of St. Paul. That Pauline year "will not fail to arouse a renewed missionary drive in the Church," he predicted.

The instrumentum laboris for the Synod meeting bears, as its title, the theme chosen for this year's meeting: The Word of God in the life and Mission of the Church. The document was been released in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Polish; the full text of the instrumentum laboris is available on the Vatican web site.

The working document is divided into three major sections. The first examines the meaning of the term the "Word of God," and the relationships among Scripture, tradition, and the magisterium. The second explores the understanding and interpretation of the Bible, and the proper approach to reading the Word of God and using the Scripture in the liturgy and daily prayer. The third discusses the role of the Word of God in the life of the Church, considering the mission of evangelization, formation of clergy and laity, ecumenical outreach, and inter-religious dialogue. "An attentive listening to the Word is fundamental to a personal encounter with God," a concluding passage of the instrumentum laboris says. "No one can fathom the depths of the Word of God. However, only in the previously mentioned manner can the Word take hold of and convert a person, making him discover its riches and secrets, widening his horizons and promising freedom and full human development."