.- On Thursday morning the Synod Fathers of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops gathered together at the Vatican for their Sixth General Congregation. Focusing upon biblical formation of seminarians and improved exegesis of the Scriptures, speakers recommended learning the Bible “by heart” and urged that bishops never discourage lay people from becoming “lovers of the Word.”
Addressing the 242 bishops present for the gathering, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow, noted that sometimes candidates for the priesthood seem to treat the text of the Scriptures as an “object of study” without taking into consideration the “spiritual dimension.”
“For them, the Scripture does not become the Word of their life. The force of the Word, capable of changing man, converting him, is not unleashed by the Scripture. We have to rethink the role of the Word of God in seminary formation and, consequently, in the permanent formation of priests.
“The people of God need priests who are passionate about the Word and service,” he continued. “This is one of the necessary conditions of new evangelization that was so close to the heart of Pope John Paul II."
Bishop Vincent Ri Pyung-Ho of Jeonju, Korea described how, since becoming a bishop, he has been trying to memorize all the biblical passages of the daily Mass readings.
“Most of the time in my preaching, it is enough for me to let the words of God speak by themselves,” he said. “Then my people understand very well and they are so happy to hear directly the Word of God and the Word of God itself saves the people.”
He suggested it could be vital to form present and future priests by requiring a certain amount of learning the Bible by heart.
Bishop Emmanuel Lafont of Cayenne, French Guyana, called the Catholic Biblical Federation a “privileged instrument” which for bishops ensures “the Word remains the source and inspiration of all prayer, all evangelization, all homily, all catechesis, of every episcopal document and of every work of charity.”
“I can testify to the fertility of the Word among the small and the humble,” he remarked.
Though he had received a degree in Sacred Scripture from the Biblical Institute of Rome, Bishop Lafont said, “it was the poor who really opened me up to the force of the Word.”
Calling the poor “profoundly receptive to the Word of God,” he exhorted that the Church “should always read it with them close at hand.”
“I ask that this Synod demonstrate great confidence in the way the humble people and lay persons in general welcome the Word,” he continued. “My greatest fear is not that they make a mistake when they read the Bible, but that they don't read it, and that we may prevent them, by imposing too many precautions, from becoming lovers of the Word."