A recent international Biblical Congress held in Rome from April 23-26, 2019 has established that access to the Bible in local languages, as well as affordability, remains a major challenge to many Catholics around the world.
Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Chimombo, AMECEA Pastoral Department Coordinator who was among the participants at the Congress said that an evaluation of the activities of the Catholic Biblical Federation during the Rome Congress also indicated the need to make the Bible more available to people with physical disabilities, especially the visually impaired and those with hearing and speaking challenges.
“We realized that for a long time the Catholic Church mostly withheld the Bible from the lay people; it was like a book of scholars and the clergy who were mandated to interpret it to the faithful. After the Second Vatican Council, the Church is mandated to bring the Bible back to the people and to popularise it among the so that the lay faithful,” Fr. Chimombo explained.
The Congress established that although a lot has been done in popularizing the Bible among the faithful, a lot is yet to be achieved as Fr. Chimombo indicated that they did strategize on the next move for the coming years on what to do in order to make the Bible available in different languages and developing the interest of the lay faithful to buy and read the Bible.
The Congress was held under the theme, ‘The Bible and Life: Biblical Inspiration of the Entire Pastoral Life and Mission of the Church (VD 73) Experiences and Challenges.’ The participants critically looked at various aspects of the pastoral reality of the Church so as to discern best practices and the most pertinent challenges affecting each region of the Federation.
“In Africa, we have made a number of strides. For instance, in the AMECEA Region through the Small Christian Communities, we have encouraged the reading of the Bible. The faithful have opportunities to listen to the Word of God and be inspired according to one’s personal situation,” Fr. Chimombo said, adding that still more needs to be done because the Bible has not yet been translated into all local languages.
The Catholic Bible Federation’s Secretariat is currently in Germany and the Secretary-General is Rev. Fr. Jan J. Stefanow, SVD. It seeks to promote and develop the Biblical pastoral ministry so as to allow the Word of God to become a dynamic source of inspiration to Christians for all areas of the life and mission of the Church in today’s world”. (CBF Constitution, 9.1).
At the end of the Conference, President of Catholic Biblical Federation H.E. Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, Philippines, announced that the Federation’s Executive Committee has decided to mark 2020 the Year of the Word, beginning on the first Sunday of Advent December 1, 2019 until the feast of St. Jerome September 30, 2020.
The Rome Congress culminated with the Visit to the Holy Father where the delegates had an audience with Pope Francis to give Report on what they had done.