Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation, VERBUM DOMINI
(Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 30 September, the Memorial of Saint Jerome, in the year 2010, the sixth of my Pontificate.)
Letting the Bible inspire pastoral activity
Along these lines the Synod called for a particular pastoral commitment to emphasizing the centrality of the word of God in the Church’s life, and recommended a greater “biblical apostolate”, not alongside other forms of pastoral work, but as a means of letting the Bible inspire all pastoral work”. This does not mean adding a meeting here or there in parishes or dioceses, but rather of examining the ordinary activities of Christian communities, in parishes, associations and movements, to see if they are truly concerned with fostering a personal encounter with Christ, who gives himself to us in his word. Since “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”, making the Bible the inspiration of every ordinary and extraordinary pastoral outreach will lead to a greater awareness of the person of Christ, who reveals the Father and is the fullness of divine revelation.
For this reason I encourage pastors and the faithful to recognize the importance of this emphasis on the Bible: it will also be the best way to deal with certain pastoral problems which were discussed at the Synod and have to do, for example, with the proliferation of sects which spread a distorted and manipulative reading of sacred Scripture. Where the faithful are not helped to know the Bible in accordance with the Church’s faith and based on her living Tradition, this pastoral vacuum becomes fertile ground for realities like the sects to take root. Provision must also be made for the suitable preparation of priests and lay persons who can instruct the People of God in the genuine approach to Scripture.
Furthermore, as was brought out during the Synod sessions, it is good that pastoral activity also favour the growth of small communities, “formed by families or based in parishes or linked to the different ecclesial movements and new communities”,which can help to promote formation, prayer and knowledge of the Bible in accordance with the Church’s faith.