Rorate Caeli

"The supreme rule of her faith and power of life"

For the record, here is the latest news on the Holy See's preparation of a response to a request for clarification of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy that had been made by the October 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church:

The Pontifical Biblical Commission held its annual plenary session last week, from 16 to 21 April, in the Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City, under the presidency of William Joseph Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As at last year's plenary session, Fr. Klemens Stock, SJ, secretary general, chaired the session.

The PBC is still in the first stage of its study, in which it is focusing on the way in which inspiration and truth appear in Holy Scripture. Each participant in the session presented a report that was discussed by the whole assembly.

The Holy Father's message to the plenary session of the PBC reiterates the themes expressed in his message to last year's plenary session:

To the Venerable Brother
William Cardinal Levada
President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

I am pleased to send you, Venerable Brother, to Prosper Cardinal Grech, O.S.A., to the Secretary and to all the Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission my cordial greeting on the occasion of the annual Plenary Assembly which is being held to address the important topic “Inspiration and Truth of the Bible.”

As we know, such a topic is essential for a correct hermeneutic of the biblical message. Precisely inspiration, as action of God, makes it possible to express the Word of God in human words. Consequently, the topic of inspiration is decisive for the appropriate approach to the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, an interpretation of the sacred texts that neglects or forgets their inspiration does not take into account their most important and precious characteristic, that is, their provenance from God. Moreover, in my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, I recalled that “The Synod Fathers also stressed the link between the theme of inspiration and that of the truth of the Scriptures. A deeper study of the process of inspiration will doubtless lead to a greater understanding of the truth contained in the sacred books.” (n. 19).

Because of the charism of inspiration, the books of Sacred Scripture have a direct and concrete force of appeal. However, the Word of God is not confined to what is written. If, in fact, the act of Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, the revealed Word has continued to be proclaimed and interpreted by the living Tradition of the Church. For this reason the Word of God fixed in the sacred texts is not an inert deposit inside the Church but becomes the supreme rule of her faith and power of life. The Tradition that draws its origin from the Apostles progresses with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and grows with the reflection and study of believers, with personal experience of the spiritual life and the preaching of Bishops (cf. Dei Verbum, 8, 21).

In studying the topic “Inspiration and Truth of the Bible,” the Pontifical Biblical Commission is called to offer its specific and qualified contribution to this necessary further reflection. In fact, it is essential and fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that the sacred texts are interpreted in keeping with their nature: Inspiration and Truth are constitutive characteristics of this nature. That is why your endeavor will be of real usefulness for the life and mission of the Church.

With good wishes to each one of you for the fruitful development of your works, I would like, finally, to express my heartfelt appreciation for the activity carried out by the Biblical Commission , committed to promoting knowledge, study and reception of the Word of God in the world. With such sentiments I entrust each one of you to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, who with the whole Church we invoke as Sedes Sapientiae, and I impart from my heart to you, Venerable Brother, and to all the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 18 April 2012

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