Bible Societies around the world met in Rome last week to form a greater bond with the Catholic Church. During the ‘Bible and Family’ partnership meetings between the United Bible Societies (UBS) and the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF), the Pope called for an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family and evangelisation to take place in October 2014, which greatly encouraged delegates.
The Rome-based meeting, which ended last Thursday after a morning audience with Pope Francis, was organised by UBS to explore ways in which Bible Societies can work more closely with the Catholic Church to get the Bible into the hands of more families.
“I particularly showed him the Poverty and Justice Bible (Catholic edition) and the May They BeOne Bible and explained that the Bible Societies are producing them with the full support of the Catholic Church,” says Dr Zimmer. “He was delighted: ‘Go ahead!’ he smiled. His support is very precious to us.”“Pope Francis’s call for this Extraordinary Synod of Bishops focusing on family issues has greatly encouraged us in our discussions this week around the very same topic,” said UBS Director General Michael Perreau. “We warmly welcome the Pope’s commitment to bringing the Bible to families. Now it’s up to us to work together to make it happen.”
Rev Dr Rudi Zimmer, Chairman of the UBS Global Board, was one of four participants in the meeting who was granted direct access to Pope Francis. He says that, despite being surrounded by vast crowds, the Pope took time to hear about the meeting, his face lighting up when he heard about the focus on making the Bible available to families and encouraging them to read it.
Bible Society and CBF representatives from more than 30 countries have spent the past three days discussing the spiritual pressures on the family in modern society and how they can collaborate on projects to address these. Topics have included the central role of women in family life, how to get families reflecting on and engaging with the Bible, and translating, publishing and distributing the Bible with Catholic families in mind.
“The family is the one remaining place in today’s society where there is hope of passing faith onto future generations,” said Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family, as he opened yesterday’s meeting. “It is vital that we take up this challenge and develop practical ways of encouraging families to engage with the Bible.”
Bible Society Australia’s head of marketing, Damian Fisher, was a delegate for the Rome meeting and called it a “rare global opportunity for Bible Societies around the world to collaborate and partner with the Catholic Church and the Catholic Biblical Federation”.
“The Bible and Family conference is fertile ground for exploring ongoing partnership work across the Roman Catholic world. Being one of a minority of Bible Societies which has a very good relationship with and experience of working with the Catholic Church, Bible Society Australia saw an opportunity to support these global efforts, share experience and build concrete plans to work more closely with the Catholic Church in translating, distributing and engaging people with the word of God.”
While in Rome, Mr Fisher will also meet with Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell to discuss further how Bible Society and the Australian Catholic Church can work together for the Bible.