Anglican Bishop addresses Catholic Synod

At the National Catholic Reporter, N.T. Wright’s address to the Bishops’ Synod on the Word of God is reported by John L. Allen:

….On Tuesday, Wright finally took the floor in the synod hall. On a day when Pope Benedict XVI stressed the need to press beyond a purely secular and scientific reading of the Bible towards a theological exegesis, Wright struck much the same note – providing additional reason to believe this will be a key theme in the synod’s final recommendations.

In his remarks, Wright called for a “four-fold” reading of scripture understood as the love of God, which he said should involve:
• The heart (Lectio Divina, liturgical reading);
• The mind (historical/critical study);
• The soul (church life, tradition, teaching);
• Strength (mission, kingdom of God).

In words that would certainly be music to Benedict XVI’s ears, Wright placed special emphasis upon mission – including the church’s mission to the field of Biblical studies itself.

“In particular, we need fresh mission-oriented engagement with our own culture,” Wright said.

“Paragraph 57 of the Instrumentum Laboris implies that Paul’s engagement merely purifies and elevates what is there in the culture,” Wright said. “But Paul also confronts pagan idolatry, and so must we.”

“In particular, we must engage critically with the tools and methods of historical/critical scholarship themselves,” he said.

Indirectly, Wright also endorsed what Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, the synod’s relator, referred to as a new “Marian paradigm” for reading the Bible in the opening address of the assembly.

Referring to “Mary as model,” Wright said she is the classic example of “waiting patiently in the soul,” which is also the posture of “the tradition and expectation of the church.” The church always awaits, Wright said, “the new, unexpected and perhaps unwelcome, but yet saving, revelation.”

Among other things, Wright’s presentation underscores a “mega-truth” about ecumenism these days, which is that on some issues, and in some cases, the fault lines that truly matter in Christianity no longer run between denominations but within them. When it comes to the Bible, Wright and the Catholic bishops gathered in Rome are arguably closer to one another than they would be to more liberal members of their own churches inclined to adopt revisionist readings and to challenge the historical veracity of key Biblical claims.

The Synod of Bishops on the Bible runs Oct. 5-26.

The Synod’s Lineamenta document is not the working document. As the preface explains:

To facilitate reflection and discussion on the topic everywhere in the Church, the Lineamenta includes a list of detailed Questions associated with the subject treated in each chapter. The above-mentioned collegial bodies are asked to submit a written response to these questions before November of this year [2007]. The Ordinary Council, assisted by specialists, will then study this material and present it in an orderly fashion in a second document, traditionally called the Instrumentum Laboris, which will become the agenda of the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place—God willing—from 5 to 26 October 2008.

The Instrumentum Laboris, working document, is also online at the Vatican, which has an extensive set of documents related to the synod, in multiple languages.

I can’t help thinking that the Bishops’ Synod is much more fun than, say, Lambeth was for Rev. Wright.

Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson, Vice President of the USCCB and a delegate to the Synod, has a Synod blog (and that site has other useful links).

The Communio blog (Paul Zalonski) has information on various interesting interventions (i.e. presentations) and Paul has more here.

There are more links about the interventions at

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