Friday, 24 April 2009

On Interpreting the Bible


Catholic News Service, Apr-24-2009

Pope says Scripture must be interpreted within church community

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The interpretation of sacred Scripture cannot be subjective, but must be interpreted within the church community, said Pope Benedict XVI. "Only within the ecclesial context can sacred Scripture be understood as the authentic word of God that acts as guide, norm and rule for the life of the church and the spiritual growth of the faithful," he said. "This entails rejecting every interpretation that is subjective or simply limited to a mere analysis (and therefore) incapable of being open to the overall meaning that has guided the tradition of the entire people of God over the course of centuries," he said in an address to members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission April 23. The commission of biblical scholars is an advisory body to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and its president is U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation. During their meeting April 20-24, commission members concentrated on the theme "Inspiration and Truth in the Bible."

Roman Catholic communities may therefore correctly assume that effective immediately they will be required to observe the following revised regulations regarding all Sacred Scripture:

a) only members of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith are able to recognize the authentic word of God.

b) all other Catholics should immediately refrain from reading the Bible as they are likely to interpret the text subjectively.

c) all readings of the Bible by Catholics conducted at home, church, schools and any other Catholic venues must be avoided since listeners do not possess or have access to the Holy Spirit and could easily be misled.

d) all Catholics failing to observe these conditions will be denied full communion and may be subject to excommunication. Failing that members may be burned at the stake.

e) Catholics may return their Bibles at their nearest parish or recognized Catholic bookstore. All requests for refunds must be filed directly with the Vatican office in Rome.

In conclusion all Catholics are requested to contact the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, during regular business hours, before expressing any official opinion or interpretation of any text publically or privately.

Readers will realize that the last part of this article, immediately following the italic script, is of course fictitious and was written ‘tongue in cheek’. However, I ask that you search for the hidden truths behind it. God does not hide his face from us, his Spirit will never abandon our hearts, however deep it may be buried. For Jesus said whosever calls on me will know the Father. The gift of Sacred Scripture is that it is already written on everyone’s heart. Look not for it with your head.

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