CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 16, 2005 ( Benedict XVI reminded experts that to proclaim the Word of God, it is first necessary to hear it.

"The Church does not live of herself, but of the Gospel, and always finds her orientation in it for her journey," the Pope said today to some 400 experts, many of them bishops, who are participating in the international congress on "Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church."

"It is something that every Christian must keep in mind and apply to himself: Only the one who listens to the Word can then become its herald," the Holy Father said when receiving in audience the participants in the congress which is marking the 40th-anniversary year of the Second Vatican Council dogmatic constitution on divine Revelation, "Dei Verbum."

"He must not teach his own wisdom, but God's wisdom, which often seems like foolishness to the eyes of the world," Benedict XVI said, after thanking the organizers for calling the meeting, which is taking place in Rome through Sunday.

The congress was organized by the Catholic Biblical Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, with the presence of "fraternal delegates" from other Christian Churches and communities.

Commenting on "Dei Verbum," which for the Holy Father is "one of the most important documents of Vatican Council II," he recalled that when he was a young theologian he witnessed "the lively discussions that accompanied it."


"The Church knows well that Christ lives in the sacred Scriptures," he explained to his listeners in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. "This is the reason why the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures, in a way resembling the veneration dedicated to the body of the Lord."

The Holy Father quoted from St. Jerome, "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."

"Church and Word of God are inseparably united in themselves," he stated. "The Church lives of the Word of God and the Word of God resounds in the Church, in her teaching and in her whole life."

The Bishop of Rome said he thanked God for the fact that after Vatican II "the fundamental importance of the Word of God has been re-evaluated more profoundly."

"From this has derived a renewal in the life of the Church, especially in preaching, catechesis, theology, spirituality and in the ecumenical journey itself," he said.

"The Church must always renew and rejuvenate herself, and the Word of God -- which never grows old or is exhausted -- is the privileged means for this objective," he said.