.- Meeting with Biblical scholars at his Castelgandolfo summer residence earlier today, Pope Benedict said that the Church must live off and be constantly renewed by the Word of God in the holy scriptures. He also encouraged scripture study in which reading and prayer are inextricably linked--a practice which he believes, will lead to a new spiritual springtime. The Pope received participants of a congress which is currently meeting in Rome on the theme, "Holy Scripture in the Life of the Church."
The international meeting, which stretches from September 14th through the 18th, is being jointly sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Catholic Biblical Federation (FBC). It also celebrates the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of Vatican Council II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation "Dei Verbum."
During this morning's meeting, the Pope expressed his thanks to the FBC for "its activities, the biblical pastoral activity it promotes, its faithful adherence to the indications of the Magisterium, and its openness to ecumenical collaboration in the biblical field." He also expressed "profound joy" that the congress is hosting fraternal delegates from Churches and ecclesial communities of the East and the West, as well as representatives from many other prominent world religions.
The Holy Father also recalled his own role, as a young theologian, in the shaping and preparation of the "Dei Verbum" document, stressing that "the Church does not live off herself but off the Gospel, and its from the Gospel that, always and anew, she draws guidance for her journey."
"This is a fact that all Christians must take up and apply to themselves", he said; "only those who first dispose themselves to listen to the Word can then begin to announce it."
"Church and Word of God," he continued, "are inseparably linked. The Church lives off the Word of God, and the Word of God rings out in the Church, in her teaching and in all her life."
The Pope said he was thankful for a renewed appreciation of this fact, saying that "in recent times, thanks also to the effect of the Dogmatic Constitution 'Dei Verbum,' the fundamental importance of the Word of God has been more profoundly re-evaluated. This has led to renewal in the life of the Church, especially in preaching, catechesis, theology, spirituality, and in the very ecumenical journey itself. The Church must forever renew and rejuvenate herself, and the Word of God, which never ages or expires, is the privileged means to this end."
In his concluding remarks Pope Benedict encouraged a renewed practice of "the ancient tradition of 'Lectio divina.'"
This "assiduous study of Holy Scripture," he said, "accompanied by prayer, initiates that intimate exchange in which, reading, we listen to God Who speaks and, praying, we reply to him with faithful openness of heart. If effectively promoted, this practice will, I am convinced, bring a new spiritual springtime. As a fixed point in biblical pastoral activity, 'Lectio divina' should, then, be further encouraged, also by the use of new methods, carefully studied and in keeping with the times."