Vatican City, 12 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission with their president, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the conclusion of their annual plenary assembly, which had the theme of “Inspiration and Truth in the Bible”.
In his address to them, the Pope emphasized that this theme “affects not only the individual believer but the whole Church, for the Church's life and mission are founded on the Word of God, which is the soul of theology as well as the inspiration of all of Christian existence.”
“Sacred Scripture,” he reaffirmed,“ is the written testimony of the divine Word, the canonical memory that attests to the event of Revelation. However, the Word of God precedes the Bible and surpasses it. That is why the centre of our faith isn't just a book, but a salvation history and above all a person, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. It is precisely because the Word of God embraces and extends beyond Scripture that, in order to properly understand it, the Holy Spirit's constant presence, who guides us “to all truth”, is necessary. It is necessary to place ourselves within the great Tradition that has, with the Holy Spirit's assistance and the Magisterium's guidance, recognized the canonical writings as the Word that God addresses to his people, who have never ceased meditating upon it and discovering inexhaustible riches from it.”
The pontiff recalled that Vatican Council II repeated this very clearly in the dogmatic constitution “Dei Verbum”: “All of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgement of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God.” “In fact, Sacred Scripture is the Word of God in that it is written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Sacred Tradition, instead, transmits the Word of God in its entirety, entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy spirit to the Apostles and their successors, so that these, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, might faithfully preserve it with their preaching, might expound and propound it.”
“The interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be just an individual academic effort, but must always be compared to, inserted within, and authenticated by the living tradition of the Church. This norm is essential in identifying the proper and reciprocal relationship between the exegesis and the Magisterium of the Church. The texts that God inspired were entrusted to the Community of believers, the Church of Christ, to nourish the faith and to guide the life of charity.”
The Bishop of Rome bid the members of the Biblical Commission farewell, thanking them for their work and expressing the desire that this Year of Faith “may help to make the light of Sacred Scripture shine within the hearts of the faithful.”