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Pope: Different translations of the Word of God enrich the Church

Pope released apostolic letter on Sacred Scripture Sept. 30, feast of St. Jerome

“Saint Jerome Writing” by Caravaggio
VATICAN CITY — In an apostolic letter dedicated to Sacred Scripture, Pope Francis stated that even today, Christians can learn new things from the countless translations of the Bible that exist.

The variety of translations of the Bible in the world today “teaches us that the values and positive forms of every culture represent an enrichment for the whole Church,” the pope wrote in his apostolic letter, “Scripturae Sacrae affectus” (“Devotion to Sacred Scripture”).

“The different ways by which the Word of God is proclaimed, understood and experienced in each new translation enrich Scripture itself since, according to the well-known expression of Gregory the Great, Scripture grows with the reader, taking on new accents and new resonance throughout the centuries,” he wrote in the letter released by the Vatican Sept. 30.

Earlier in the day, before concluding his weekly general audience, the pope told pilgrims he had signed the document to coincide with the 16th centenary of St. Jerome’s death.

“May the example of this great doctor and father of the Church, who placed the Bible at the center of his life, awaken in us a renewed love for the Sacred Scripture and the desire to live in a personal dialogue with the Word of God,” he stated.

The letter itself stated that marking the anniversary of St. Jerome’s death is “a summons to love what Jerome loved, to rediscover his writings and to let ourselves be touched by his robust spirituality, which can be described in essence as a restless and impassioned desire for a greater knowledge of the God who chose to reveal Himself.”

Catholics today, he wrote, must heed “the advice that Jerome unceasingly gave to his contemporaries: ‘Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand.’”

In his apostolic letter, the pope delved into the history of St. Jerome’s life and his love of Scripture. His “monumental work” of translating the Old Testament from Hebrew, as well as his commentary on the Psalms and St. Paul’s letters, are an example for Catholics today, he said.

“As an enterprise carried out within the community and at the service of the community, Jerome’s scholarly activity can serve as an example of synodality for us and for our own time,” the pope wrote.

“It can also serve as a model for the Church’s various cultural institutions, called to be ‘places where knowledge becomes service, for no genuine and integral human development can occur without a body of knowledge that is the fruit of cooperation and leads to greater cooperation,’” he wrote, quoting a speech he gave in 2019 to the pontifical academies.

“To how many missionaries do we owe the invaluable publication of grammars, dictionaries and other linguistic tools that enable greater communication and become vehicles for the missionary aspiration of reaching everyone,” Pope Francis asked.

“We need to support this work and invest in it, helping to overcome limits in communication and lost opportunities for encounter. Much remains to be done. It has been said that without translation there can be no understanding: we would understand neither ourselves nor others,” he stated.

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