Pope urges Christians to read Bible like the saints

01 Oct 2008

By The Record

Benedict XVI urges Christians to read the Holy Bible, like St Therese of Lisieux and St Jerome.


St Jerome in his study. Pope Benedict XVI has urged Christians to read the Bible for their own nourishment like St Jerome.


TO know God and to know how to live their lives, Christians must read the Bible, Pope Benedict XVI said.
“Drawing close to the biblical texts, especially the New Testament, is essential for believers because “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” the Pope said, quoting St Jerome.
At his November 14, 2007 weekly general audience, the Pope continued a talk begun the week before about the importance of the teaching of St Jerome, the fourth-century doctor of the Church. Reading the Bible teaches believers the way they are to live their lives, the Pope said, but the Scriptures must be read in a spirit of prayer and must be understood the way the church understands them. “For Jerome, a fundamental criterion for the interpretation of Scriptures was harmony with the magisterium of the Church,” he said. Pope Benedict said the books of the Bible “were written by the people of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” so “only in harmony with the faith of this people can we understand the sacred Scripture.” The Pope said St Jerome also emphasised the importance of “a healthy, integrated education” in religion, morality and culture for all Christians, including women, which was unusual in ancient times. St Jerome, he said, recognized the “right of women to have a complete human, scholastic, religious and professional formation.”
Education, the Pope said, especially regarding one’s “responsibilities before God and other human beings, is the real prerequisite for true progress, peace, reconciliation and the exclusion of all violence. The sacred Scriptures offer us guidance for education and, therefore, for true humanism”. Immediately after the audience, Pope Benedict went up to his private chapel in the Apostolic Palace to venerate the relics of St Therese of Lisieux, the 19th-century Carmelite saint. Pope John Paul II proclaimed her a doctor of the church in 1997. He said: “St Therese wanted to learn the biblical languages to better read the Scriptures. Imitating her and the example of St Jerome, take time to read the Bible regularly.”