VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis met with members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission on April 12, reflecting on how Christians have found “inexhaustible riches” in the Bible.
“Sacred Scripture is the written testimony of the divine Word, the canonical memory that attests to the event of Revelation,” he said.
In his comments, the Pope distinguished between Scripture and the Word of God, which he said “precedes the Bible and surpasses it.”
“That is why the center of our faith isn't just a book,” he said. Rather, the center of Christian faith is “Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh.”
Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, heads the Pontifical Biblical Commission. The group met for its annual plenary session April 8-12 at St. Martha’s House in Vatican City.
The commission has been concentrating on how the themes of inspiration and truth are shown in the different books of the Bible. It aims to help the Catholic faithful understand the word of God.
During his remarks, the Pope noted that the word of God is “the soul of theology” and “the inspiration of all of Christian existence,” as well as the foundation of the Church and the Church’s mission.
The Holy Spirit is necessary for Christians to understand Scripture, he reflected, “precisely because the word of God embraces and extends beyond Scripture.”
In his address to the commission, Pope Francis also discussed the relationship between sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition.
He explained that Catholics must place themselves “within the great Tradition that has, with the Holy Spirit’s assistance and the magisterium's guidance, recognized the canonical writings as the word that God addresses to his people.”
He said that the interpretation of Scripture cannot be only “an individual academic effort.” Instead, it must always be compared to and authenticated by “the living Tradition of the Church.”
“The texts that God inspired were entrusted to the community of believers, the Church of Christ, to nourish the faith and to guide the life of charity,” he said, citing the Second Vatican Council dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum.
Sacred Scripture is the word of God, “in that it is written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”
Sacred Tradition instead, he noted, “transmits the word of God in its entirety, entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the apostles and their successors.”
The Pope voiced his desire that the Year of Faith, which lasts until November 2013 and was declared by Benedict XVI, “may help to make the light of sacred Scripture shine within the hearts of the faithful.”