The Synod Fathers have given their first of two final assessments of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God.

Church leaders attending the three-week meeting in Rome have voted to approve their Message of the Synod of Bishops to the People of God.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi served as the president of the commission that was charged with preparing the official message.

At a press conference today, Archbishop Ravasi said one of the synod’s key goals has been to deepen the dialogue between the Church and contemporary culture.

He said knowledge of the Bible is fundamental both to facilitating that dialogue and also, in the case of Christian societies, to a proper understanding of their own identity.

“It’s extremely important to have this exchange of views between these two different worlds,” said Archbishop Ravasi, who is the president of the Pontifical Council of Culture. “To answer in a very simple way: first and foremost, the appeal which we have launched is that to know the Bible is to know the very identity of the West. We haven’t used the terminology ‘Christian roots’ just to avoid polemics, but this is a fact of life.”

He added, “This appeal is essential and it is addressed to the lay world because it must recognize the need to find and recognize its own identity.”

The complete text of the message is available here.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec City, the synod’s General Relator, will give a final assessment of the gathering at a press conference tomorrow. The synod concludes formally on Sunday.

— Edward Pentin