Sunday, April 19, 2015

Monthly Benedict

To mark the 10th anniversary of the election of our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict, I am very happy to announce a new monthly (bi-monthly?) column by Llanbedr.   Some of you may know him from interactions in the comment section of this blog.  Each month he will focus on particular facets of Benedict's Biblical Theology.  To start, he has structured his column around the content of Verbum Domini and the various Propisitio contained within.  
Since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, there has been much speculation concerning the impact of his papacy on the future direction of the Church. Certainly, his decision to resign from office will have repercussions long into the future and, no doubt, marks the beginning of a new epoch in which the role of the Bishop of Rome will be focussed on anew. Being the successor to a saint, and the first Pope to renounce the See of Peter in 600 years, from election to resignation his papacy was exceptional in every way.
Chaucer once wrote that a story is only as good as its ending. On this, the tenth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I would like to begin an evaluation of his legacy as one of the greatest, and most prolific Biblical scholars ever to occupy the Chair of Peter. To this end, I propose to evaluate the fruits, if any, of his Post-Synodal Exhortation Verbum Domini, in the life of the Church, both communally and individually, and, almost five years after the publication of this document, to ensure that the suggestions and recommendations contained within it remain current in our discourse.
Verbum Domini contains many observations, suggestions and recommendations ranging from practical spiritual advice, such as the reiteration of the need for Scripture to be engaged in prayerfully (86), as addressed in Dei Verbum 25, and the need for the word to be accompanied by silence (66.b). To calls for further scholarly study of the relationship between Mariology and the theology of the word (27), and the interrelation of the different expressions of 'word' (7).
We are all called upon to not only own and use a Bible, but for it to be kept in a worthy place in our homes (85) and also in our churches (68). Priests must be more deeply versed in the Scriptures, and this must translate into an improvement in homiletics and, thus, the deepening of the understanding of the laity regarding the living nature of the word of Scripture (59). Pastors are encouraged to promote specific times at which the word is celebrated (65), and the call is made for a greater 'biblical apostolate' to ground all pastoral activity in scriptural soil (73).
With this Apostolic Exhortation I would like the work of the Synod to have a real effect on the life of the Church: on our personal relationship with the sacred Scriptures, on their interpretation in the liturgy and catechesis, and in scientific research, so that the Bible may not be simply a word from the past, but a living and timely word. (5)
Being the first in a series of posts I aim to proceed from the general to the particular, not wishing to prejudice the dialogue with subjectivity and lead the conversation in any particular direction.
My own experience, post-publication, has been that I have not witnessed any evidence of the reception of this document in any practical way, over these past five years, and that the vast majority of the laity are not even aware of it. This could be geographical (I live in the UK), but I've yet to see any evidence of this.
What is your experience either personally or communally of the effects of the Exhortation?


CatholicSteve said...

What helped me in this is his explaining how the historical criticism method and mystic approach to Holy Writ are not opposed to each other.

rolf said...

I will echo what Catholicsteve said about the use of the historical-criticism. I just finished reading Benedict's second 'Jesus of Nazareth' book (its about time) and it was excellent! Reading these books you get the feel that our Pope emeritus is very comfortable using this method, but not to the excesses where it has been abused in the past.

CatholicSteve said...


I've never read his 'Jesus of Nazareth' books; how much focus does he put in explaining the historical-criticism method?

(on a side note, I wonder what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would have though of the NABRE and its foonotes?)


rolf said...

CatholicSteve, I read his first book back in 08, and Pope Benedict touched on the usefulness and the abuse of the historical-critical method. In the second book he doesn't ready mention it much, but you can see that he is using it in his commentary. I want to re-read his first book and I would like to get his third book soon.