A shot in the arm for enhanced preaching

08 Oct 2008

By The Record

‘Spiritual nourishment’ of Bible to be a synod focus, says top US cardinal.


Cardinal William J Levada. Photo: CNS


SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) – A renewed appreciation for the “spiritual nourishment” available in sacred Scripture, a shot in the arm for ecumenical dialogue and enhanced preaching on “the word of God in Scripture” are among hopeful outcomes of the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible, a US cardinal has said.
Cardinal William J Levada, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made the comments in an interview in San Francisco with the newspaper of the archdiocese, Catholic San Francisco.
The cardinal, who is the former archbishop of San Francisco, was in town to dedicate a replica of St Francis of Assisi’s tiny Porziuncola church that now graces a building adjoining the National Shrine of St Francis of Assisi.
“For all the rekindling of the love for Scripture that the (Second) Vatican Council proposed, I would say that perhaps we have not integrated” the study and appreciation of the Bible into the daily lives of average Catholics as much as the church would hope, he said.
Cardinal Levada is one of three delegate presidents who will take turns presiding over the synod’s daily sessions fron October 5-26 at the Vatican.
“I am speaking in generalities,” he said, “but there are sources that indicate that a lot of people perhaps do not have their own Bibles, that they have not learned how to use it every day and make it part of their spiritual nourishment.”
“The pastoral implications of the Second Vatican Council, particularly Dei Verbum (the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation), still need encouragement for fuller implementation,” Cardinal Levada said.
He also said it “would be one of our great hopes” that the synod might provide “a great point of connection” with other Christian denominations and stimulate “renewed dialogue toward the ecumenical efforts that we all have to continue to make according to the prayer of Christ that all may be one.”
Among other potential pastoral applications for the synod would be preaching, he said, “which the church has always employed to break open the meaning of the Scriptures for our people.”
“I don’t think there are any tremendous theological issues which are left unresolved” by Vatican II that the synod might address, the cardinal said.
However, he added that “we can always be surprised by some aspects of things that will be brought up and that can capture your mind. So you say, ‘Yes, that is really an interesting suggestion and we ought to go with that,’ so we will have to keep our ears and hearts open.”
He also noted the inclusion of more women and a number of representatives of other faiths as synod consultants and participants – including a rabbi who will be the first non-Christian to address a bishops’ synod – “is going to have its own dynamic.”
Cardinal Levada noted that he, Pope Benedict XVI and other Church leaders were invited by a major Italian television network to take part in a “10 to 15-minute reading of a passage from Scripture” every day of the synod during prime time “as a contribution to helping the Bible come into people’s lives.”
In addition to Cardinal Levada, Pope Benedict has named as delegate presidents Cardinal George Pell of Sydney and Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo. The Pope himself is president of the synod.