Verbum Domini EN 103
103 Commitment to justice, reconciliation and peace finds its ultimate foundation and fulfilment in the love revealed to us in Christ. By listening to the testimonies offered during the Synod, we saw more clearly the bond between a love-filled hearing of God’s word and selfless service of our brothers and sisters; all believers should see the need to “translate the word that we have heard into gestures of love, because this is the only way to make the Gospel proclamation credible, despite the human weakness that marks individuals”. Jesus passed through this world doing good (cf. Acts Ac 10,38). Listening with docility to the word of God in the Church awakens “charity and justice towards all, especially towards the poor”. We should never forget that “love – caritas – will always prove necessary, even in the most just society … whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such”. I therefore encourage the faithful to meditate often on the Apostle Paul’s hymn to charity and to draw inspiration from it: “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but delights in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1Co 13,4-8).
Love of neighbour, rooted in the love of God, ought to see us constantly committed as individuals and as an ecclesial community, both local and universal. As Saint Augustine says: “It is essential to realize that love is the fullness of the Law, as it is of all the divine Scriptures … Whoever claims to have understood the Scriptures, or any part of them, without striving as a result to grow in this twofold love of God and neighbour, makes it clear that he has not yet understood them”.
 Id., Homily at the Conclusion of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (26 October 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 779.
 Propositio 11.
 Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est (25 December 2005), : AAS 98 (2006), 240.
 De Doctrina Christiana, I, 35, 39 – 36, 40: PL 34, 34.
104 The Synod paid particular attention to the proclamation of God’s word to the younger generation. Young people are already active members of the Church and they represent its future. Often we encounter in them a spontaneous openness to hearing the word of God and a sincere desire to know Jesus. Youth is a time when genuine and irrepressible questions arise about the meaning of life and the direction our own lives should take. Only God can give the true answer to these questions. Concern for young people calls for courage and clarity in the message we proclaim; we need to help young people to gain confidence and familiarity with sacred Scripture so it can become a compass pointing out the path to follow. Young people need witnesses and teachers who can walk with them, teaching them to love the Gospel and to share it, especially with their peers, and thus to become authentic and credible messengers.
God’s word needs to be presented in a way that brings out its implications for each person’s vocation and assists young people in choosing the direction they will give to their lives, including that of total consecration to God. Authentic vocations to the consecrated life and to the priesthood find fertile ground in a faith-filled contact with the word of God. I repeat once again the appeal I made at the beginning of my pontificate to open wide the doors to Christ: “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. … Dear young people: do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life”.
 Cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the Twenty-first World Youth Day (22 February 2006): AAS 98 (2006), 282-286.
 Cf. Propositio 34.
 Cf. ibid.
 Homily (24 April 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 712.
105 The word of God makes us attentive to history and to emerging realities. In considering the Church’s mission of evangelization, the Synod thus decided to address as well the complex phenomenon of movements of migration, which in recent years have taken on unprecedented proportions. This issue is fraught with extremely delicate questions about the security of nations and the welcome to be given to those seeking refuge or improved conditions of living, health and work. Large numbers of people who know nothing of Christ, or who have an inadequate understanding of him, are settling in countries of Christian tradition. At the same time, persons from nations deeply marked by Christian faith are emigrating to countries where Christ needs to be proclaimed and a new evangelization is demanded. These situations offer new possibilities for the spread of God’s word. In this regard the Synod Fathers stated that migrants are entitled to hear the kerygma, which is to be proposed, not imposed. If they are Christians, they require forms of pastoral care which can enable them to grow in the faith and to become in turn messengers of the Gospel. Taking into account the complexity of the phenomenon, a mobilization of all dioceses involved is essential, so that movements of migration will also be seen as an opportunity to discover new forms of presence and proclamation. It is also necessary that they ensure, to the extent possible, that these our brothers and sisters receive adequate welcome and attention, so that, touched by the Good News, they will be able to be heralds of God’s word and witnesses to the Risen Jesus, the hope of the world.
 Cf. Propositio 38.
106 During the work of the Synod, the Fathers also considered the need to proclaim God’s word to all those who are suffering, whether physically, psychologically or spiritually. It is in times of pain that the ultimate questions about the meaning of one’s life make themselves acutely felt. If human words seem to fall silent before the mystery of evil and suffering, and if our society appears to value life only when it corresponds to certain standards of efficiency and well-being, the word of God makes us see that even these moments are mysteriously “embraced” by God’s love. Faith born of an encounter with God’s word helps us to realize that human life deserves to be lived fully, even when weakened by illness and pain.God created us for happiness and for life, whereas sickness and death came into the world as a result of sin (cf. Sg 2,23-24). Yet the Father of life is mankind’s physician par excellence, and he does not cease to bend lovingly over suffering humanity. We contemplate the culmination of God’s closeness to our sufferings in Jesus himself, “the Word incarnate. He suffered and died for us. By his passion and death he took our weakness upon himself and totally transformed it”.
Jesus’ closeness to those who suffer is constant: it is prolonged in time thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit in the mission of the Church, in the word and in the sacraments, in men and women of good will, and in charitable initiatives undertaken with fraternal love by communities, thus making known God’s true face and his love. The Synod thanked God for the luminous witness, often hidden, of all the many Christians – priests, religious and lay faithful – who have lent and continue to lend their hands, eyes and hearts to Christ, the true physician of body and soul. It exhorts all to continue to care for the infirm and to bring them the life-giving presence of the Lord Jesus in the word and in the Eucharist. Those who suffer should be helped to read the Scriptures and to realize that their condition itself enables them to share in a special way in Christ’s redemptive suffering for the salvation of the world (cf. 2Co 4,8-11,14).
 Benedict XVI, Homily for the Seventeenth World Day of the Sick (11 February 2009):Insegnamenti V, 1 (2009), 232.
 Cf. Propositio 35.
107 Sacred Scripture manifests God’s special love for the poor and the needy (cf. Mt Mt 25,31-46). The Synod Fathers frequently spoke of the importance of enabling these, our brothers and sisters, to hear the Gospel message and to experience the closeness of their pastors and communities. Indeed, “the poor are the first ones entitled to hear the proclamation of the Gospel; they need not only bread, but also words of life”. The diaconia of charity, which must never be lacking in our churches, should always be bound to the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the sacred mysteries. Yet we also need to recognize and appreciate the fact that the poor are themselves agents of evangelization. In the Bible, the true poor are those who entrust themselves totally to God; in the Gospel Jesus calls them blessed, “for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5,3 cf. Lc 6,20). The Lord exalts the simplicity of heart of those who find in God true riches, placing their hope in him, and not in the things of this world. The Church cannot let the poor down: “Pastors are called to listen to them, to learn from them, to guide them in their faith and to encourage them to take responsibility for lives”.
The Church also knows that poverty can exist as a virtue, to be cultivated and chosen freely, as so many saints have done. Poverty can likewise exist as indigence, often due to injustice or selfishness, marked by hunger and need, and as a source of conflict. In her proclamation of God’s word, the Church knows that a “virtuous circle” must be promoted between the poverty which is to be chosenand the poverty which is to be combated; we need to rediscover “moderation and solidarity, these values of the Gospel that are also universal … This entails decisions marked by justice and moderation”.
 Propositio 11.
 Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (25 December 2005), : AAS 98 (2006), 236-237.
 Propositio 11.
 Benedict XVI, Homily (1 January 2009): Insegnamenti V, 1 (2009), 236-237.
108 Engagement with the world, as demanded by God’s word, makes us look with new eyes at the entire created cosmos, which contains traces of that word through whom all things were made (cf. Jn 1,2). As men and women who believe in and proclaim the Gospel, we have a responsibility towards creation. Revelation makes known God’s plan for the cosmos, yet it also leads us to denounce that mistaken attitude which refuses to view all created realities as a reflection of their Creator, but instead as mere raw material, to be exploited without scruple. Man thus lacks that essential humility which would enable him to see creation as a gift from God, to be received and used in accordance with his plan. Instead, the arrogance of human beings who live “as if God did not exist” leads them to exploit and disfigure nature, failing to see it as the handiwork of the creative word. In this theological context, I would like to echo the statements of the Synod Fathers who reminded us that “accepting the word of God, attested to by Scripture and by the Church’s living Tradition, gives rise to a new way of seeing things, promotes an authentic ecology which has its deepest roots in the obedience of faith … [and] develops a renewed theological sensitivity to the goodness of all things, which are created in Christ”. We need to be re-educated in wonder and in the ability to recognize the beauty made manifest in created realities.
 Propositio 54.
 Cf. Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (22 February 2007), 92: AAS 99 (2007), 176-177.
109 Saint John’s proclamation that the Word became flesh reveals the inseparable bond between God’s word and the human words by which he communicates with us. In this context the Synod Fathers considered the relationship between the word of God and culture. God does not reveal himself in the abstract, but by using languages, imagery and expressions that are bound to different cultures. This relationship has proved fruitful, as the history of the Church abundantly testifies. Today it is entering a new phase due to the spread of the Gospel and its taking root within different cultures, as well as more recent developments in the culture of the West. It calls in the first place for a recognition of the importance of culture as such for the life of every man and woman. The phenomenon of culture is, in its various aspects, an essential datum of human experience. “Man lives always according to a culture which is properly his, and which in turn creates among persons a bond which is properly theirs, one which determines the inter-human and social character of human existence”.
Down the centuries the word of God has inspired different cultures, giving rise to fundamental moral values, outstanding expressions of art and exemplary life-styles. Hence, in looking to a renewed encounter between the Bible and culture, I wish to reassure all those who are part of the world of culture that they have nothing to fear from openness to God’s word, which never destroys true culture, but rather is a constant stimulus to seek ever more appropriate, meaningful and humane forms of expression. Every authentic culture, if it is truly to be at the service of humanity, has to be open to transcendence and, in the end, to God.
 John Paul II, Address to UNESCO (2 June 1980), 6: AAS 72 (1980), 738.
 Cf. Propositio 41.
110 The Synod Fathers greatly stressed the importance of promoting a suitable knowledge of the Bible among those engaged in the area of culture, also in secularized contexts and among non-believers. Sacred Scripture contains anthropological and philosophical values that have had a positive influence on humanity as a whole. A sense of the Bible as a great code for cultures needs to be fully recovered.
 Cf. ibid.
111 One particular setting for an encounter between the word of God and culture is that of schools and universities. Pastors should be especially attentive to this milieu, promoting a deeper knowledge of the Bible and a grasp of its fruitful cultural implications also for the present day. Study centres supported by Catholic groups offer a distinct contribution to the promotion of culture and education – and this ought to be recognized. Nor must religious education be neglected, and religion teachers should be given careful training. Religious education is often the sole opportunity available for students to encounter the message of faith. In the teaching of religion, emphasis should be laid on knowledge of sacred Scripture, as a means of overcoming prejudices old and new, and enabling its truth to be better known.
 John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (14 September 1998), FR 80: AAS 91 (1999), 67-68.
 Cf. Lineamenta 23.
112 The relationship between the word of God and culture has found expression in many areas, especially in the arts. For this reason the great tradition of East and West has always esteemed works of art inspired by sacred Scripture, as for example the figurative arts and architecture, literature and music. I think too of the ancient language expressed by icons, which from the Eastern tradition is gradually spreading throughout the world. With the Synod Fathers, the whole Church expresses her appreciation, esteem and admiration of those artists “enamoured of beauty” who have drawn inspiration from the sacred texts. They have contributed to the decoration of our churches, to the celebration of our faith, to the enrichment of our liturgy and many of them have helped to make somehow perceptible, in time and space, realities that are unseen and eternal. I encourage the competent offices and groups to promote in the Church a solid formation of artists with regard to sacred Scripture in the light of the Church’s living Tradition and her magisterium.
 Cf. Propositio 40.
113 Linked to the relationship between the word of God and culture is the need for a careful and intelligent use of the communications media, both old and new. The Synod Fathers called for a proper knowledge of these media; they noted their rapid development and different levels of interaction, and asked for greater efforts to be made in gaining expertise in the various sectors involved, particularly in the new media, such as the internet.The Church already has a significant presence in the world of mass communications, and her magisterium has frequently intervened on the subject, beginning with the Second Vatican Council. Discovering new methods of transmitting the Gospel message is part of the continuing evangelizing outreach of those who believe. Communications today take place through a worldwide network, and thus give new meaning to Christ’s words: “What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops” (Mt 10,27). God’s word should resound not only in the print media, but in other forms of communication as well. For this reason, together with the Synod Fathers, I express gratitude to those Catholics who are making serious efforts to promote a significant presence in the world of the media, and I ask for an ever wider and more qualified commitment in this regard.
Among the new forms of mass communication, nowadays we need to recognize the increased role of the internet, which represents a new forum for making the Gospel heard. Yet we also need to be aware that the virtual world will never be able to replace the real world, and that evangelization will be able to make use of the virtual world offered by the new media in order to create meaningful relationships only if it is able to offer the personal contact which remains indispensable. In the world of the internet, which enables billions of images to appear on millions of screens throughout the world,the face of Christ needs to be seen and his voice heard, for “if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man”.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Instruments of Social Communication Inter Mirifica; pontifical council for social communications, Pastoral Instruction Communio et Progressio (23 May 1971): AAS 63 (1971), 596-656; John Paul II, Apostolic Letter The Rapid Development (24 January 2005): AAS 97 (2005) 265-274; pontifical council for social communications, Pastoral Instruction Aetatis novae (22 February 1992): AAS 84 (1992), 447-468; The Church and Internet (22 February 2002): Enchiridion Vaticanum 21, Nos. 66-95; Ethics in Internet (22 February 2002): Enchiridion Vaticanum 21, Nos. 96-127.
 Cf. Final Message, IV, 11; Benedict XVI, Message for the 2009 World Day of Social Communications (24 January 2009): Insegnamenti V, 1 (2009), 123-127.
 Cf. Propositio 44.
 John Paul II, Message for the XXXVI World Communications Day (24 January 2002):Insegnamenti XXV, 1 (2002), 94-95.
114 The mystery of the incarnation tells us that while God always communicates in a concrete history, taking up the cultural codes embedded therein, the same word can and must also be passed on in different cultures, transforming them from within through what Pope Paul VI called the evangelization of cultures. The word of God, like the Christian faith itself, has a profoundlyintercultural character; it is capable of encountering different cultures and in turn enabling them to encounter one another.
Here too we come to appreciate the importance of the inculturation of the Gospel. The Church is firmly convinced that the word of God is inherently capable of speaking to all human persons in the context of their own culture: “this conviction springs from the Bible itself, which, right from the Book of Genesis, adopts a universalist stance (cf. Gn 1,27-28), maintains it subsequently in the blessing promised to all peoples through Abraham and his offspring (cf. Gen Gn 12,3 Gn 18,18), and confirms it definitively in extending to ‘all nations’ the proclamation of the Gospel”. For this reason, inculturation is not to be confused with processes of superficial adaptation, much less with a confused syncretism which would dilute the uniqueness of the Gospel in an attempt to make it more easily accepted. The authentic paradigm of inculturation is the incarnation itself of the Word: “‘Acculturation’ or ‘inculturation’ will truly be a reflection of the incarnation of the Word when a culture, transformed and regenerated by the Gospel, brings forth from its own living tradition original expressions of Christian life, celebration and thought”, serving as a leaven within the local culture, enhancing the semina Verbi and all those positive elements present within that culture, thus opening it to the values of the Gospel.
 Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December 1975), EN 20: AAS 68 (1976), 18-19.
 Cf. Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (22 February 2007), 78: AAS 99 (2007), 165.
 Cf. Propositio 48.
 Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (15 April 1993), IV, B: Enchiridion Vaticanum, 13, No. 3112.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, AGD 22; Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (15 April 1993), IV, B: Enchiridion Vaticanum, 13, Nos. 3111-3117.
 John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of Kenya (7 May 1980), 6: AAS 72 (1980), 497.
 Cf. Instrumentum Laboris, 56.
115 The inculturation of God’s word is an integral part of the Church’s mission in the world, and a decisive moment in this process is the diffusion of the Bible through the precious work of translation into different languages. Here it should always be remembered that the work of translation of the Scriptures had been undertaken “already in the Old Testament period, when the Hebrew text of the Bible was translated orally into Aramaic (Ne 8,8) and later in written form into Greek. A translation, of course, is always more than a simple transcription of the original texts. The passage from one language to another necessarily involves a change of cultural context: concepts are not identical and symbols have a different meaning, for they come up against other traditions of thought and other ways of life”.
During the Synod, it was clear that a number of local Churches still lack a complete translation of the Bible in their own languages. How many people today hunger and thirst for the word of God, yet remain deprived of the “widely available access to Sacred Scripture” desired by the Second Vatican Council! For this reason the Synod considered it important, above all, to train specialists committed to translating the Bible into the various languages. I would encourage the investment of resources in this area. In particular I wish to recommend supporting the work of the Catholic Biblical Federation, with the aim of further increasing the number of translations of sacred Scripture and their wide diffusion. Given the very nature of such an enterprise, it should be carried out as much as possible in cooperation with the different Bible Societies.
 Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (15 April 1993), IV, B: Enchiridion Vaticanum 13, No. 3113.
 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, DV 22.
 Cf. Propositio 42.
 Cf. Propositio 43.
116 The synodal assembly, in its discussion of the relationship between God’s word and cultures, felt the need to reaffirm something that the earliest Christians had experienced beginning on the day of Pentecost (Ac 2,1-2). The word of God is capable of entering into and finding expression in various cultures and languages, yet that same word overcomes the limits of individual cultures to create fellowship between different peoples. The Lord’s word summons us to advance towards an ever more vast communion. “We escape the limitations of our experience and we enter into the reality that is truly universal. Entering into communion with the word of God, we enter into the communion of the Church which lives the word of God. … It means going beyond the limits of the individual cultures into the universality that connects all, unites all, makes us all brothers and sisters”. The proclamation of God’s work thus always demands, of us in the first place, a new exodus, as we leave behind our own limited standards and imaginations in order to make room for the presence of Christ.
 Benedict XVI, Homily during the Celebration of Terce at the beginning of the First General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops (6 October 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 760.
117 The Church considers an essential part of the proclamation of the word to consist in encounter, dialogue and cooperation with all people of good will, particularly with the followers of the different religious traditions of humanity. This is to take place without forms of syncretism and relativism, but along the lines indicated by the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate and subsequently developed by the magisterium of the Popes. Nowadays the quickened pace of globalization makes it possible for people of different cultures and religions to be in closer contact. This represents a providential opportunity for demonstrating how authentic religiosity can foster relationships of universal fraternity. Today, in our frequently secularized societies, it is very important that the religions be capable of fostering a mentality that sees Almighty God as the foundation of all good, the inexhaustible source of the moral life, and the bulwark of a profound sense of universal brotherhood.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, for example, one finds a moving witness to God’s love for all peoples: in the covenant with Noah he joins them in one great embrace symbolized by the “bow in the clouds” (Gn 9,13-14 Gn 9,16) and, according to the words of the prophets, he desires to gather them into a single universal family (cf. Is 2,2ff; Is 42,6 Is 66,18-21 Jr 4,2 Ps 47). Evidence of a close connection between a relationship with God and the ethics of love for everyone is found in many great religious traditions.
 Among numerous interventions of various genres, see: John Paul II, Encyclical LetterDominum et Vivificantem (18 May 1986): AAS 78 (1986), 809-900; Encyclical LetterRedemptoris Missio (7 December 1990): AAS 83 (1991), 249-340; Addresses and Homilies in Assisi for the 27 October 1986 Day of Prayer for Peace: Insegnamenti IX, 2 (1986), 1249-1273; Day of Prayer for World Peace (24 January 2002): Insegnamenti XXV, 1 (2002), 97-108; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and of the Church (6 August 2000): AAS 92 (2000), 742-765.
118 Among the various religions the Church also looks with respect to Muslims, who adore the one God. They look to Abraham and worship God above all through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. We acknowledge that the Islamic tradition includes countless biblical figures, symbols and themes. Taking up the efforts begun by the Venerable John Paul II, I express my hope that the trust-filled relationships established between Christians and Muslims over the years will continue to develop in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue. In this dialogue the Synod asked for a deeper reflection on respect for life as a fundamental value, the inalienable rights of men and women, and their equal dignity. Taking into account the important distinction to be made between the socio-political order and the religious order, the various religions must make their specific contribution to the common good. The Synod asked Conferences of Bishops, wherever it is appropriate and helpful, to encourage meetings aimed at helping Christians and Muslims to come to better knowledge of one another, in order to promote the values which society needs for a peaceful and positive coexistence.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate, NAE 3.
 Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to Ambassadors of Predominantly Muslim Countries Accredited to the Holy See (25 September 2006): AAS 98 (2006), 704-706.
 Cf. Propositio 53.
119 Here too I wish to voice the Church’s respect for the ancient religions and spiritual traditions of the various continents. These contain values which can greatly advance understanding between individuals and peoples. Frequently we note a consonance with values expressed also in their religious books, such as, in Buddhism, respect for life, contemplation, silence, simplicity; in Hinduism, the sense of the sacred, sacrifice and fasting; and again, in Confucianism, family and social values. We are also gratified to find in other religious experiences a genuine concern for the transcendence of God, acknowledged as Creator, as well as respect for life, marriage and the family, and a strong sense of solidarity.
 Cf. Propositio 50.
120 All the same, dialogue would not prove fruitful unless it included authentic respect for each person and the ability of all freely to practise their religion. Hence the Synod, while encouraging cooperation between the followers of the different religions, also pointed out “the need for the freedom to profess one’s religion, privately and publicly, and freedom of conscience to be effectively guaranteed to all believers”: indeed, “respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. Such respect and dialogue foster peace and understanding between peoples”.
 John Paul II, Address at the Meeting with Young Muslims in Casablanca, Morocco (19 August 1985), 5: AAS 78 (1986), 99.
Verbum Domini EN 103