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Pontifical Biblical Institute

On 26 October the Holy Father received members of the Pontifical Biblical Institute which is currently celebrating its centenary. The institute was founded by Pope Pius X.

Benedict XVI greeted Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and expressed his thanks to Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

The Jesuits, “not without considerable effort, invest financial and human resources in running the Faculty of the Ancient East, the Biblical Faculty here in Rome and the institute’s office in Jerusalem”, said the Pope. He also extended his greetings to include the rector, professors and students of the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

“This centenary represents a goal and, at the same time, a starting point”, said the Holy Father.

“Enriched by the experience of the past, you continue your journey with renewed enthusiasm, aware of the service to the Church that is asked of you: that of bringing the Bible into the life of the People of God that they may know how to face the unprecedented challenges that the modern age poses to the new evangelisation. Our shared hope is that, in this secularised world, Sacred Scripture may become not only the heart of theology but also a source for spirituality and for vigour of faith among all who believe in Christ”.

The Holy Father recalled that the Vatican Council II Dogmatic Constitution “Dei Verbum” highlighted “the legitimacy and importance of the historical-critical method, identifying therein three essential elements: attention to literary genres; study of historical context; and the examination of what is often called ‘Sitz im Leben’. (setting in life).

The conciliar text also adds another methodological indication. Given that Scripture is a single thing rooted in the one People of God, which has carried it through history, it follows that reading Scripture as a unified whole means reading it on the basis of the Church, … and maintaining faith in the Church as the true key for its interpretation.

“If exegesis also wishes to be theology, it must recognise that faith is the Church is that form of ‘sympathy’ without which the Bible remains a closed book. Tradition does not close access to Scripture, but it opens it. Furthermore it is the Church, in her institutions, that has the decisive word in the interpretation of Scripture. It is, in fact, the Church that is entrusted with the task of authentically interpreting the Word of God as written and transmitted, exercising her authority in the name of Jesus Christ”.

VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2009 (VIS)