Thursday, October 9, 2008

Synod of Bishops

A very important synod is occurring at the Vatican concerning the Bible, and John Allen reports on its first day in this article from the National Catholic Reporter.

An excerpt.

“On the first day of talks today at the Synod of Bishops on the Bible, which opened here Oct. 5, one theme seems to be emerging: the desire for a deeply spiritual way of reading Scripture, one that lies beyond both empty piety and parsing the text to death through historical and literary study…

“Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec City, the relator of the synod, issued a strong call for what he called “spiritual exegesis” of the Bible, premised not just on cognitive understanding but, above all, on personal faith and commitment.

“Prominent in Ouellet’s audience this morning in the Vatican’s Synod Hall was Pope Benedict XVI, who plans to be present for most of the discussions over the next three weeks. The synod runs through Oct. 26th.

“Ouellet proposed a new “Marian paradigm” for Scripture study – using the Virgin Mary as a model of a response to God’s Word that, in his words, is “dynamic,” “dialogical,” and “contemplative.”

“Among other things, Ouellet argued that the Bible has to be seen as part of a broader relationship with Jesus Christ, the “living Word of God,” that’s both personal and also rooted in the community of the church.

“Christianity is not really a “religion of the Book,” Ouellet said, but rather a “religion of the Word – not solely or mainly of the Word in its written form.”

“The synod was created by Pope Paul VI in 1969 to give the bishops of the world a regular voice in the governance of the universal church…

“Especially since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Catholic Bible scholarship made great strides towards a more rigorous form of study, drawing on archeology, linguistics, and the social sciences, but some charge that in the process the spiritual dimension of the Bible was either forgotten or deliberately suppressed…

“Ouellet argued that the Bible must be read within the “living tradition” of the church, especially its official teaching authority, in order to avoid what he termed “subjectivist” readings. He was also critical of what he called “a questioning of the unity of the scriptures and excessive fragmentation of interpretations” among some Biblical scholars, as well as a “climate of often unhealthy tension between university theology and the ecclesiastical magisterium.”