Synod of Bishops: Latest developments
During the Synod of Bishops (Oct. 5th – 26th 2008) on “The Bible in the Life and Mission of the Church”, the following points have been made and agreed:
In many ways, what's most remarkable about this synod is the widespread agreement on most of the big-picture points, which has allowed discussion to quickly move into the realm of the pastoral and the practical. The following ideas have been repeatedly affirmed in the synod, virtually without dissent:
· The "Word of God," in the Catholic understanding, is broader than the written texts of scripture. It refers principally to a person, Jesus Christ, so it is theologically inaccurate to describe Christianity (at least in its Catholic form) as a "religion of the book."
· Scripture must be read in the context of the church, meaning its tradition, doctrinal teachings and worship. Among other things, this point implies a greater accent on the link between the Bible and the liturgy, especially the Mass.
· The Bible is not simply a piece of ancient literature, and therefore can't be interpreted exclusively through the lens of history and literary criticism. Biblical interpretation has to press deeper, towards a "theological exegesis," which relates specialized study of the Bible to the faith life of the church and the personal struggles of real people.
· The Bible is a natural bridge for better relations with other Christians and with Jews, since it represents a shared "common home," despite obvious differences in interpretation.
· The church is obligated not merely to proclaim the Word of God, but also to listen to it. This is a special challenge, several speakers have pointed out, in a world where listening is often a lost art.
Several practical points
were stressed so often that they're also safe bets to be among the final
propositions: the need for better homilies; wider practice of Lectio
Divina, meaning the use of the Bible in prayer; the need to make
translations of the Bible available in all languages, especially in isolated
areas of the developing world where there's no edition in the local language --
or where the local language is still entirely oral.