Biblical Pastoral Ministry in Asia-Pacific: Today and Tomorrow Cecilia Chui

Resources »Eapr »East Asian Pastoral Review 2010 »Volume 47 2010 Number 3 »Biblical Pastoral Ministry In Asia Pacific Today And Tomorrow Cecilia Chui

Cecilia Chui

"God’s Word is living and active!” (Heb 4:12)

  Cecilia CHUI is an active member of the Hong Kong Catholic Biblical Association that was founded in 1973.  She has been involved in the biblical pastoral ministry for more than 25 years and currently holds the position of Liaison Secretary of the United Chinese Catholic Biblical Association.  She has been the North East Asia Subregional Coordinator of the Catholic Biblical Federation since 1990.

 

Centrality of God’s Word in the Wake of Vatican II

One of the most evident characteristics of the Catholic Church in Asia-Pacific in the last few decades is biblical renewal.  For a very long time, the most important book of faith was not the Bible, but the catechism.  Vatican II was a turning point, and the Word of God returned gradually to its central place in the life of the Church.  The Bible was then handed over to the Asians and peoples of Oceania in a “new and more direct” way.  This can be described as a new biblical awakening in the Church and a new epiphany of the Word of God in Asia-Oceania.

Praise and thanks to the Lord for the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council1(1962-1965), summoned by Blessed Pope John XXIII, thereby turning a new page in the Church’s history: Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the “signs of the times” (cf.Gaudium et Spes, 4) .  The Council led to the emergence of a new biblical vision of the Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, 1-8 and Ad Gentes, 1-19).  It envisioned vibrant communities of faith called together by God’s Word as its servants, as the new people of God nourished by it, celebrating it and witnessing to its power.  Each local community, through the ministries of all its members, proclaims God’s Kingdom.  Acting as sign and instrument of human destiny, Christians become an expression of the Word, a moment of revelation (cf. 2 Cor 3:2-3).

The providential foundation of the Catholic Biblical Federation2(CBF) on 16 April, 1969, which was a fruit of the Council endorsed by Pope Paul VI through the diligent efforts of the charismatic and leading biblical scholar, Cardinal Augustine Bea, SJ3, marked a significant new chapter for biblical ministry (namely, “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church”) to make directives of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, a pastoral reality.

As an alliance of more than 330 independent and autonomous Catholic organizations, the CBF is now present in some 135countries, primarily at the service of the local churches and in liaison with the Holy See through the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU).  The members of the Federation are of two kinds: (1) full members are institutions entrusted by the Bishops’ Conferences with the biblical pastoral ministry in their areas; and (2) associate members are other institutions (like publishing houses, pastoral centers, individual dioceses, or religious orders) having this kind of ministry as their priority.  In fact, the existence of some of the member institutions pre-dates the creation of the CBF in 1969.

The CBF worldwide network for the Word shows the following demographic representation by regions:  Africa – 15%; Americas – 35% ( Latin America 33%); Asia-Oceania – 26%; Europe-Middle East – 24%.

The global character of the Federation can also be seen in the fact that it has held its once-every-six-years Plenary Assemblies in all the continents: Asia (Bangalore 1984, Hong Kong 1996), Middle East (Beirut 2002), Africa (Dar es Salaam 2008), Europe (Vienna 1972, Malta 1978) and Latin America (Bogotá 1990).

God’s Word for Pastoral Ministry in Asia-Oceania

In Asia-Oceania, 95 member institutions of CBF in 28 countries band together for mutual support in the biblical pastoral ministry according to the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.  The spread in the subregions of South East Asia, North East Asia, South Asia, and Oceania is as follows:

Subregions

Full Members

Associate Members

South East Asia

7

18

North East Asia

4

11

South Asia

5

40

Oceania

3

7

 

19

76

In collaboration with bishops, CBF members take Chapter VI of Dei Verbum (DV) as their Magna Charta concerning Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church and her ministry in the world of today.  The Federation’s scope and purpose of the biblical ministry cover the following:  God’s Word as the heart and mission of the Church (DV, 21), easy access to Holy Scripture for all (DV, 22), formation of ministers of the divine Word for the scriptural nourishment of the People of God (DV, 23), pastoral use of the Bible (DV, 24), and diligent reading and careful study of Sacred Scriptures (DV, 25).

The biblical pastoral ministry, making the Scriptures available as Word of God and source of life, implies a great variety of activities which include awareness building, translation/production/ distribution, formation, research, and organization.  All these can be found in the various subregions of Asia-Oceania with different approaches which may be summed up in terms of “reading the Bible in context” and “inculturation of the Word of God.”4

Biblical Congress – 40th Anniversary of Dei Verbum

In February 2005, the CBF IV Asia-Oceania Biblical Congress was held in Tagaytay, Philippines in collaboration with the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC)5–Office of Evangelization (or Office of Peace and Harmony) to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of Dei Verbum.  Under the theme of “God’s Word:  Living Hope and Lasting Peace (Lam 3:21-24: Rom 15:4, 13),” some200 participants (including some 10 bishops6) reflected on a more mature Asian-Oceanian understanding of the Bible with inputs contributed by Sr. Maria Ko Ha-Fong, FMA, on “Towards an Asian Biblical Hermeneutics.”  The four characteristic dispositions of receiving the Word of God are cited as reading beyond the written Word, treating the Bible as a family album, understanding the Bible with a holistic and vital approach, and a heart-to-heart reading.

Reading beyond Written Word ─ “God has spoken once, twice I have heard” (Ps 62:12).  In reading the Bible with proper disposition, one encounters God’s message as dynamic and symbolic; as such the text gives rise to something ever new.  Emptying one’s mind and silence propel the creative interaction between the reader and the text.  Beyond the written text looms large a world of surprises, an experience of being immersed in the infinite that makes the heart humble and grateful for the fruitfulness of what God imparts.

The Bible as a Family Album ─ “Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1).  Jesus’ painstaking efforts to create a new family of God gave rise to the Church.  Thus, reading the Bible gives us a sense of union with our traditions, allowing us at least to dip in the wisdom of our ancestors.  It engages us to participate in the constant dialogue between God and humanity.  It is a fertile ground for the reader to mediate between the written Word and the “seeds of the Word” scattered throughout history.

A Holistic and Vital Approach in Reading the Text ─ “Your word is a lamp for my feet” (Ps 119:105).  The Bible teaches us how to live.  It is only by living the Scripture that we understand it better.  Bible reading appeals to our concrete experience:  it sheds light on our journey through life.  It engages our whole being.  With sufficient training, we can integrate faith and experience, understanding and acting, scientific exegesis and sapiential reading.

A Heart to Heart Reading7 ─ “This word is very near to you, in your heart” (Deut 30:14).  We can taste the Word of God by letting it sink deep into our heart and making it echo within and from without, like Mary, who “treasured all these things in her heart, meditating on them” (Lk 2:19, 51).  The truth or message we draw out from the Bible oscillates: from the heart of God to the human heart and back again.  

Overall, the commitments of the ministers of the Word in Asia-Oceania cover the following key areas:  establish an Asian-Oceanian Biblical Institute8 for preparing animators; prepare an Asian-Oceanian Biblical Commentary; promote diversified approaches of Bible reading─dialogical, situational, holistic, and intercultural; strengthen small Christian communities (SCCs) in interreligious dialogue; keep up ongoing formation and empowerment of the laity; promote bibliodrama; and use biblical apostolate as a means to find solutions to social problems.

Biblical Pastoral Ministry in Subregional Contexts

South East Asia

In South East Asia (SEA), the CBF subregion has a defined goal of developing an effective network of communication9 and collaboration among 25 member organizations located in Indonesia , Philippines , Thailand , Singapore , Malaysia , Brunei , Vietnam , and Cambodia .  To realize the CBF-SEA vision, the members commit themselves to the proclamation of God’s Word from Sacred Scripture and Tradition, the promotion of the pastoral use of the Bible (DV, Chapter VI), the formation on justice, peace, integrity of creation, reconciliation, and the promotion of interreligious, intercultural, and ecumenical dialogue with peoples in their social realities.

On 11-17 February, 2008, the Fifth CBF South East Asia Workshop was held in conjunction with the 17th National Workshop for the Biblical Apostolate of the Philippines .  Reflecting on the theme “Word of God:  Source of Justice, Reconciliation and Peace” (cf. Micah 6:8; 2 Cor 5:17-20), the participants declared certain lines of action:  work for justice, reconciliation, and peace; making the apostolic exhortation on the Word of God one of the main guides for Bible apostolate; taking St. Paul as the model for zeal in the gospel; innovative Bible celebrations; launching Biblical Pastoral Ministry program that integrates formation, celebration, the translation, production, and distribution of Bible materials; and networking, with the use of media technology.

South Asia

The biblical apostolate is very vibrant in the religiously and culturally pluralistic South Asia subregion of CBF, comprising India , Pakistan , Sri Lanka , Bangladesh and Nepal .  After four biblical workshops since 1989, the fifth subregional workshop took place in Mumbai, India on 2-5 January 2008 under the theme of “Word of God— Source of Justice and Peace.”

In response to the challenges of biblical pastoral ministry so as to be prophetic persons promoting justice, peace and reconciliation, the 2008 CBF South Asian Workshop resolved the promotion of a “culture of the Bible” in which individuals, families, and communities are animated and formed to keep the Word of God central in their lives; the nurturing of a genuine biblical spirituality through liturgy, catechesis, small Christian communities, and prayer groups; the bridging of the gap between  laity and scholars, laity and clergy, and popular and exegetical reading of the Word; and an ongoing formation for the Biblical apostolate for seminarians, clergy, religious, and lay persons.

Some recent biblical movements in three countries of South Asia are given as follows:

In India , the Bible Day is made open to non-Christians.  The Bible is presented in dance, drama, and paintings that also reflect others’ cultures.  A variation of Bible versions are made available, like Community Bible, Braille Bible, “Word of God” series, Child Bible, and Bible Cartoons.  The Bible is also spread through Internet, CDs, and cassettes (including hymns).  Children’s Vacation Bible School and national and diocesan bible study groups have been set-up.  Retelling the story of Jesus became the focus of the Mission Congress.

Similarly, Pakistan launched the Children’s Bible in its first Sindh edition and the ninth edition of the Urdu Bible, as well as a Bible exhibition, the Children’s Bible in 23 languages, and the English Bible in 12 translations.  Basic Bible courses in the Old and New Testament are offered to lay people and religious.

Not to be outdone, Sri Lanka celebrated the Year of St. Paul (2008-9) through talks and seminars on Pauline spirituality and missionary methods (for priests, religious, and laity); biblical data competition; classical drama in parishes and schools.  Zealous dioceses set the formation of Church leaders and members through the Asian Integrated Pastoral Approach (AsIPA).10  They also produced the Christian Community Bible with Notes in Sinahala language.

Oceania

The CBF network in the Oceania subregion vastly covers Australia , Fiji , French Polynesia , New Zealand , Papua New Guinea , Samoa , Solomon Islands , and Tonga .

At the First Oceania Meeting for the Biblical Apostolate held in Sydney , Australia in February 1988, the subregion affirmed that the ministry of the Word deserves a high priority.  Thus, biblical apostolate is viewed as an integral part of the overall pastoral strategy at national, provincial, diocesan, and local levels.  Rather than multiply programs, existing structures are used to keep biblical renewal at work in the lives of bishops, priests, and deacons.  Competent lay persons are to be given sufficient biblical training.  A directory of resources which can provide information about courses, programs, audio-visual materials, etc. are to be made available within a specific region.  The subregion is aware that biblical apostolate cannot go full swing without adequate financial resources.

Later in late 1992, following CBF’s IV Plenary Assembly (theme: “The Bible in the New Evangelization”) in 1990, the Oceania subregion held its First Pacific Consultation on Catholic Bible Ministry at the Fatuoaiga Pastoral and Cultural Center (FPCC) in Pago Pago, American Samoa.  Fifteen diocesan delegates put together a vision statement saying:  “We are a group of people called and sent to make the Word of God alive in the Pacific area in response to the challenge of New Evangelization in the region.”  

This serves as an impetus to make the Bible ministry an integral part of the total diocesan pastoral plan.  Structurally, this would mean the designation of a diocesan coordinator, the setting up of a Bible Institute where Bible animators in the Pacific are trained, as well as a Bible commission for coordinating and facilitating the networking of Bible ministries in the Pacific.  The affiliation of the whole archdiocese or certain dioceses with the Catholic Biblical Federation can enhance the biblical pastoral ministry on a wider scale.

Coordination of activities and attempting to apply the recommendations of CBF assemblies are generally not easy in the Pacific scene.  Although Oceania is geographically very large, its population is relatively small and unevenly distributed, though it comprises a large number of indigenous and migrant peoples.  The great variety of languages—700 in Papua New Guinea alone—together with the vast distances between islands and areas make communication across the subregion a particular challenge.  Communication can still be slow and difficult as in earlier times, though nowadays in many areas information is transmitted instantly thanks to new electronic technology.11

Thankfully, too, the impetus from the Holy Year 2000 and the apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in Oceania,promulgated in late 2001 have provided inspirations for various activities in the individual countries of the subregion.  The post-synodal document continues to provide illumination in a biblical pastoral context and the noticeable relevant parts for Oceania are those on Evangelization (Nos. 18-21) and lectio divina and Scripture (No. 38).

In Australia and New Zealand , the two most developed countries in Oceania , the biblical apostolate continues to grow steadily through discussion groups and various formation programs including the Korerotia (Adult Biblical Interdependent Learning) scripture program.  This is part of a general growth in interest in learning about religion and theology and in deepening prayer life.  Catholic bookshops report a stable market for Bible, commentaries, and other scripture study aids.  National Bible Sunday is normally celebrated on the fourth Sunday of July.  Much of the emphasis and energy of the Church and other groups are now focused on the many social, moral, and justice issues facing the two countries, such as refugees, asylum seekers, and euthanasia.  Although these initiatives are biblically based, the focus is not so much on the Bible as such.

In Tonga , the activities include the translation of the Bible and the conciliar document Dei Verbum, the formation of lay leaders, and Bible Sunday celebration.

The biblical pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Goroka in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is very active and alive, under the supervision of the subregional coordinator of Oceania , Fr. Valentine Gryk, SVD.  All pastoral plans in PNG are based on the Word of God.  An annual Bible Month in August is a big attraction to different parishes and communities.  Efforts are intensified to promote a “culture of the Bible,” including solemn procession with the Word in liturgical celebrations and promotion of reading and praying with the Bible in families and groups.  In 2010 there are a variety of formation programs including the Dei Verbum Course, a yearly biblical course in October which focuses on the gospel for the next liturgical year to reflect and act on social and justice issues, and focused reading of the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles.  An Inter-Denomination Conference on “Empowering Ministry through Tokples Scriptures” was held in January 2010. Biblical materials are made available in Pidgin and other languages. 

North East Asia

The biblical pastoral service network of CBF in North East Asia comprises four full members and 11 associate members as follows:

Character

Place

Quantity

Biblical Associations

Hong Kong, Macau , Japan

3

Franciscan Institutions

Hong Kong , Japan

2

Biblical Institute

Hong Kong

1

Seminary

Japan

1

Biblical Commissions

Korea , Taiwan

2

Diocese

Korea

1

Religious Congregations

Korea

4

Worldwide Chinese

Federation

Hong Kong (Servicing

Center)

1

In North East Asia , there is a cultural extension of the subregion and CBF with the birth of the United Chinese Catholic Biblical Association (UCCBA) in 1990 for the contextual implementation of biblical pastoral ministry.  This resolution was made at the Second Chinese Biblical Workshop held in Hong Kong in preparation for the CBF IV Plenary Assembly reflecting on the dynamic theme of “The Bible in the New Evangelization.”  The UCCBA has two types of members in the Chinese Diaspora: (1) full members are biblical associations or diocesan institutions dedicated to biblical ministry; and (2) associate members are bible reading groups and Catholic communities that take God’s Word with reverence.  Currently, the UCCBA network consists of 15 full members and five associate members embracing and uniting with Chinese communities in Hong Kong , China , Macau , Taiwan , Singapore , Malaysia , Brunei , Indonesia , Vietnam , Thailand , Philippines , Japan , Australia , New Zealand , Canada , and USA .

In the two decades between 1987 and 2007, two North East Asia Meetings and eight UCCBA Meetings had taken place.  On the subregional level, after the two meetings in the early 90’s, the members continue to fulfill the biblical pastoral ministry through local implementation of the resolutions made at regional workshops and global assemblies of the CBF.  

The biblical apostolate in Hong Kong is very alive with three CBF member institutions that collaborate with one another.  The Biblical Pastoral Formation Course designed with four modules by the Hong Kong Catholic Biblical Association recorded an overwhelming success in the years 2006 to 2008, attracting more than 1,200 participants.  During the Pauline Year in 2008, a series of talks were conducted in partnership with the Diocesan Liturgical Commission between May and June which benefited some 2,000 people.  Two large-scale “Walking with the Word” workshops were held in 2009 and 2010 with respective themes of “ Chinese Way of Bible Study” (169 attendees) and “Reading Parables Today” (270 attendees).

Being the only Chinese-speaking biblical teaching institution in the world, the Hong Kong Catholic Biblical Institute (HKCBI) offers a 3-Year Diploma Program and a 4-Year Open Program to respond to the great thirst for the Word of God.  Since its foundation in 1988, over 160 graduates have been granted the Biblical Studies Diploma by HKCBI in conjunction with the Biblical Theological Formation Diploma conferred by the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem .  In promoting lay apostolate, diploma course graduates are currently serving as teachers in the Open Program, of which over 90 students are awarded the Certificate of Attendance every year.  Apart from serving the local church, HKCBI graduates also conduct overseas biblical workshops including the Little Rock Scripture Program in Malaysia from 2004 to 2011.       

The Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF) in Hong Kong , which is known for producing the Chinese Catholic Holy Bible translated from the original languages, commemorates its 65th foundation anniversary in 2010.  In addition to the provision of printed Bibles, books and periodicals, the SBF also offers multi-channels of accessing God’s Word, including commentaries in CD-Rom, Palm format and Braille version of the sacred scriptures, an online biblical study program and the ongoing development of an Internet Bible Diploma Course.  Since 1999, the SBF initiated the Bible Encounter Program which offers training on exegesis andlectio divina, and formation of facilitators in local and overseas Chinese communities.  Yearly pilgrimages to the Holy Land and the Missionary Routes of St. Paul are organized to form ministers of the Word.

God’s Chinese people are also enriched by the Word through the dedicated efforts of two CBF member organizations.  The Macao Catholic Biblical Association (MCBA) has developed its own Bible in 80 Weeks Program, after making adaptations from biblical materials widely used in Korea , to promote diligent reading of the whole Bible. Following an exchange activity with the collaborators in Kuala Lumpur , MCBA promoted the Little Rock Scripture Program with weekly study sessions in 2009.  Bible games known as “Joy with God’s Word” are available to integrate fun with easy approach to the scriptures.  The national biblical ministry in Taiwan is coordinated by the Episcopal Commission for Biblical Apostolate embracing a Federation which oversees seven diocesan biblical associations.  A National Bible Study Camp has become an annual event since 2004.  The biblical  activities in Taiwan are very diverse, covering talks, courses, quizzes, facilitators training, formation of bible reading and sharing groups (87 in Kaohsiung), and exchange programs.

In Japan , the Bible in 100 Weeks Program, developed by Fr. Marcel le Dorze, MEP, has been very successful and extensively used. The Reading Guide (with 3 Books) is also translated for use in various Asian countries including Korea , Singapore , Malaysia , Indonesia , and India .  Following the completion of translation of the entire Japanese Catholic Bible in 2002 with 37 volumes, revision work is currently under progress.

In Korea , a Biblical Committee under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference coordinates the biblical ministry on the national level, covering 16 dioceses.  The Diocese of Jeonju is notable in promoting biblical learning and formation of youth study groups, and initiating Bible Education and Memorizing and Reading programs with some 78,000 participants who have undergone the training.  Three religious congregations which are CBF members have contributed greatly to the growth in love for the Word among the Koreans.  To date, more than 16,000 Catholics study the Bible in over 2,000 groups with the Bible in 40 Weeks Program run by the Catholic Bible Life Movement of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  Currently, there are more than 2,300 leaders serving in Korea and abroad.  Since 1978, the Daughters of St. Paul’s Correspondence Bible Institute has been teaching Old and New Testament, St. Paul ’s spirituality and theology through its Correspondence Bible Study Program.  It also offers the Bible Study to Be Reborn for elderly people, covering Old Testament, Gospels, the Acts, and Book of Revelation.  The Pauline Bible Education Centre, under the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, runs a 5-Year Bible Course and its graduates are sent to parishes and working places to promote group study.

On the worldwide level of Chinese biblical apostolate, the UCCBA (an associate member of CBF since 1993) held its largest-scale meeting on1-5 November,2007 in commemoration of the 100th birth anniversary of Fr. Gabriel Maria Allegra, OFM,12who initiated the Chinese translation of the Holy Bible through founding the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum13in Beijing , China in 1945.  The first complete Catholic Chinese Bible—also known as the “Franciscan Bible” or “Scotus Bible”—was born on Christmas Day in 1968 in Hong Kong, which was a realization of an important directive of Dei Verbum:  “Give the faithful suitable instruction in the right use of the divine books… through translations of the sacred texts, which are to be provided with the necessary and really adequate explanations so that the children of the Church may safely and profitably become conversant with the Sacred Scriptures and be penetrated with their spirit” (DV, 25) . 

The 2007 UCCBA Meeting, which gathered over 110 delegates (including 77 lay people) from 18 countries and territories, made  sevenbiblical pastoral resolutions:  (1) align with the 7th Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Biblical Federation (theme: “Word of God— Source of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace”)and the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (theme: “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”) in 2008 to promote the biblical apostolate;  (2) strengthen communion and service of love and fulfil the historic mission of reconciliation, under the illumination of God’s Word; (3) enhance praying with the Bible and spiritual life so as to witness God’s Word by presenting the Chinese face of Jesus; (4) intensify the formation of bible reading group leaders; (5) make good use of technology and the mass communication media to popularize the reading the Bible; (6) promote the work of the UCCBA through networking, sharing of resources, and the establishment of a foundation to assist the deficient regions; and (7) create new ways for people to access Sacred Scripture, getting in touch with the Word.

Priority for China in Biblical Pastoral Ministry

During their ad limina visit in June 2008, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun14and Bishop John Tong Hon, both of Hong Kong, and Bishop José Lai Hung-seng of Macau took special note of the loving words of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI:  “Continue to support the Church of China .  Don’t forget that Christ is also the pastor of Chinese people.  The Church cannot remain silent about this Good News.”  Providentially, the Final Statement of the 2008 CBF VII Plenary Assembly highlighted explicitly “a special focus on China as a priority” in support of the biblical pastoral ministry in Asia.15 

At the 8th UCCBA Meeting in Macau in 2007, the China group of 11 participants collectively made sixcommitments:  (1) encourage personal reading of the Bible; (2) animate the clergy and lay people to pray with and read the Bible fervently;(3) animatethe laity to read, learn, and share the Bible together before or after Sunday Masses;(4) popularize biblical pastoral ministry through setting up diocesan biblical organizations, leading parishioners in the apostolate, and nurturing members of biblical prayer groups; (5) strengthen links among parishes or dioceses to facilitate sharing of resources, mutual learning and support;and (6) make the best use of locally available resources, learning from overseas Chinese communities, and offer systematic formation materials to Bible-reading groups and lay people.

In terms of biblical networking with China , mainland Chinese delegates have been participating in CBF and UCCBA meetings since 1996.  There has been ongoing biblical formation and bible printing and distribution support extended by member institutions and collaborators in Hong Kong and overseas.  In early 2007, around 20 priests who are teachers from the seminaries of China attended a four-week biblical and theological formation course in the Holy Land.16 In late December 2008, the Prior of the Taizé Community, Brother Alois Leser, announced that, to respond to the needs of Christians in China, the Community would initiate a project of printing one million Bibles of Studium Biblicum version in China:  200,000 complete Bibles, and 800,000 New Testaments together with the Books of Psalms and Sirach.  The distribution was made to 97 dioceses and also through seminaries, religious congregations, and other channels throughout the country in 2009.  Brother Alois said:  “The Word of God unites us beyond divisions.  It also unites us, beyond borders, to those who are very far from us.  We are happy to be able to give a concrete sign of this unity with the Christians of China.”

During the years from 2006 to 2009, former CBF General Secretary and Subregional Coordinator of Rome, Fr. Ludger Feldkämper, SVD, gave some 20 Bible seminars in different dioceses, seminaries, and formation houses in China.17 After almost one year following the conclusion of the 2008 Synod of Bishops, Fr. Feldkämper was invited to conduct biblical seminars in the provinces of Gansu, Hebei, and Jilin for priests, religious, and lay people to study collectively the “Message of Bishops’ Synod on the Word to the People of God” in September and October 2009.   The key resolutions made in the three provinces include:  (1) establish Diocesan Core Teams to promote biblical pastoral ministry and lectio divina; (2) collaboratewith parish priests to promote regular bible study and sharing; (3) issuePastoral Letter to promote biblical ministry and set “Bible Week/Month”; (4) trainreligious sisters for bible sharing and pastoral ministry, with lay people and parish groups; (5) form groups for daily reading for 30 minutes and sharing once every two weeks; (6) witness to the Word by applying life experiences to preach the Word to neighbors; (7) promotefamily Bible enthronement and personal veneration of the Word; and (8) encourage the recitation of Bible texts of daily Gospel three times before meals.

To respond to the “great hunger and thirst” for the Word of God (Amos 8:11) in mainland China, the CBF North East Asia subregion will focus on the following key areas to support the biblical apostolate in that vast nation of over 1.3 billion people:

  • Formation for clergy, religious and laity.
  • Printing and distribution of affordable Bibles.
  • Further development of organized groups/associations/centers; facilitate internal coordination.
  • Reconciliation between the Open Church and Underground Church and communion between the China Church and Universal Church.18

In addition, there is an idea to form a network to associate mainland Chinese who have undertaken biblical studies abroad.  The objectives include supporting and promoting exchanges, encouraging young scholars and overseas studies, and upgrading Bible knowledge through research and publication.

Biblical Pastoral Review and Outlook

This year 2010 marks the Silver Jubilee of the CBF First Asian Workshop for the Biblical Apostolate held in Hong Kong in 1985, following the Federation’s III Plenary Assembly which gathered around 120 delegates from 53 countries in Bangalore, India to reflect on the inspiring theme of “Would That All Were Prophets! (Num 11:29).”  That general assembly endorsed the significant, far-sighted direction of contextualizing the biblical pastoral ministry through “Regionalization.”  This means, to facilitate the incarnation of the Word (cf. Jn 3:34) by “placing emphases on the local churches” through the establishment and consolidation of regional structures, resulting from the recognition of diversity and plurality within the CBF. 

In collaboration with the bishops to make God’s Word available to all (DV, 22), the Bangalore Assembly of CBF made an important continental recommendation concerning Asia :  “establish liaison with the regional federation of bishops’ conferences such as FABC.”  In 1999, the CBF lent great support to the Second Bishops’ Institute for the Biblical Apostolate (BIBA II),19organized by the FABC–Office of Evangelization.  This major event took up the call of the Fathers in the 1998 Special Synod of Bishops of Asia on the need for intense and integral biblical pastoral formation of the various members of the Church, as an active preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.  The 35 participants (including 16 bishops from 10 Asian countries) were convinced of the centrality of the Word of God to the Church’s life and consider the biblical apostolate as an integral part of her ministry.  It was hoped that the BIBA II could render a modest contribution to the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2001 on the theme “Bishops:  Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.”

Another prophetic highlight of the Bangalore Assembly of CBF in 1984 was the “appeal for a bishops’ synod dedicated to the biblical apostolate.”  Since then this request was repeated on the occasion of each of the Plenary Assemblies.20 Following an International Congress to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Dei Verbum21in Rome in 2005, jointly organized by the CBF and PCPCU, the Federation’s long-time dream that spanned almost a quarter of a century was finally fulfilled.  In October 2008, Pope Benedict XVI summoned the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,” which was well-attended by many members of the CBF and a significant representation of 50 bishops  from Asia-Oceania (Asia:  41; Oceania:  9).

Moving forward with a renewed mission of the Word, biblical pastoral ministers of Asia-Oceania envisage their spirituality and action as follows:

Aspiration to make God’s Word alive

Dynamics:  From TEXT to LIFE and from LIFE to TEXT

New Thrusts

Biblical Pastoral Commitments22

(1)  A thrust “from the Book to

      the Word” — Going beyond

      Bible distribution to inter-

      pret life and build God’s

      Kingdom based on the

      Word (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17)

 

(2)  A thrust “from clergy to

      laity” — The laity being

      called by God and led by

      the Gospel spirit to make

      Christ known (LG, 31)

 

(3) A thrust “from private read-

     ing to transforming presence

     in the world” — Being

     guided by God’s Spirit to

     transmit faith, hope and love   

     (cf. 1 Cor 2:13)

 

(4)  A thrust “from institution-

      al structure to creative pres-

      ence” — Applying creativity

      to spread contagious faith in

      the liberating power of

      God’s Word (cf. Rom 12:1-2)

•  Biblical animation of all pasto ral ministry with Word of God as  the center

•  Formation of all agents of evangelization, with particular emphasis on the laity

•  Developing  creative methodologies and skills

•  Lectio Divina — creative link between faith and life

•  Animation of SCCs as the subjects of bible reading

•  Promoting leadership of the laity—families, women, children, youth, students, ethnic groups, etc.

•  Use of electronic and digital media

•  Ecumenical, interreligious and intercultural dialogue (including non-believers)

•  Strengthening networking /coordination

•  Priority for China

•  Implementing recommendations of 2008 Synod on the Word of God

It is believed that the 40th foundation anniversaries of both CBF (1969-2009) and FABC (1970-2010) will continue to provide inspirations for effective contextual fulfillment of biblical pastoral ministry through “regionalization.” Many convergences are observed between the Final Message of the TwelfthOrdinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops 2008:  “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” and the Message of the 2009 FABC IX Plenary Assembly:  “Living the Eucharist in Asia” as generally outlined in four phases of our spiritual journey as shown below:

2008 Bishops Synod Message

2009 FABC Assembly Message

“Receive / offer life from God’s Word and Christ’s Body” (DV, 21)

(1)        

“Voice” of the Word: Revelation

(2)        

“Face” of the Word: Jesus Christ

(3)        

“House” of the Word: Church

(4)        

“Roads” of the Word: Mission

(1)        

Call to Community

(2)        

Call to Hear the Word

(3)        

Call to Faith and Hope

(4)        

Call to Mission

The following inspiring words delivered by Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, SDB, Chairman of FABC–Office of Evangelization, during his presentation on “Word and Bread: A Presence That Challenges and Strengthens” at the FABC IX Plenary Assembly(10-16 August, 2009)deserve our deep reflections in the biblical pastoral context for Asia:  “Amazingly Asians seem to esteem persons of depth.  This sort of depth comes from ‘true God-experience’ and is characterized by authenticity, sincerity, deeds matching words, capacity to endure for common causes, gentle joy and religious seriousness.  Such profound persons command respect on this continent, they win a hearing.  Evangelization is safe in their hands.  Can we rise up to these levels?  Today, our society needs ‘deep persons’, persons who have spoken to God ‘face to face’, persons who have sought guidance from His Word and enjoyed His intimacy in the Eucharist. They hold out hope.  The future of human history depends on them… such persons will change the face of Asia , and of the world.”

The Church in Oceania is diverse and far-reaching, with different challenges in each of its countries.  In the light of God’s Word and Sacraments, some 100 bishops and guests gathered at the Fifth Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO), heldin Sydney on 10-14 May 2010,confirmed the importance of taking the message of Christ forward, reflecting on the challenging theme of “Walking His Way, Bearing His Fruit, Living His Life.”  This important event is a continued implementation of the apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in Oceania.  A representation from FABC and East Timor (associate member of FABC) was also present at the FCBCO Assembly to learn from and support one another in the ongoing work of making Jesus Christ better known and loved.

In view of the 2010 Biblical Pastoral Training—a joint project of EAPI and CBF—South East Asia emerged during the 2008 CBF VII Plenary Assembly in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the ministers of the Word in Asia-Oceania also identify themselves with the vision and mission statement of EAPI for supporting the work of Catholic organizations for biblical pastoral ministry in terms of formation:  “Being a multicultural community of disciples striving to witness to a ‘new way of being Church,’ we commit ourselves to the churches of Asia and Oceania in their mission to serve as leaven (Lk 13:21)…  Following the way of Jesus Christ, we help the laity, religious and ordained ministers become more conversant with Sacred Scriptures, skilled in biblical pastoral methods and approaches, motivated in their apostolic commitment to the triple dialogue with faiths, cultures and the poor, and enriched by a lived experience of intercultural and interpersonal exchanges.”

Inspirations for regional collaboration can continue to be drawn from the apostolic exhortationsEcclesia in Asia (EA) and Ecclesia in Oceania (EO) promulgated by Pope John Paul II:  “The biblical word is of utmost importance to all Christians. The Word of God is also the foundation and the basis for all missionary proclamation, catechesis, preaching, and styles of spirituality.  A continuing solid and balanced Biblical formation is indispensable for all evangelizers and ministers of the Word” (cf. EA, 22;EO, 38).          

“Every syllable of Sacred Scripture is bread which comes from heaven, which nourishes the soul for eternal life.  One needs to welcome the good seed with a ready heart and to await the hundredfold fruit” (St. Joseph Freinademetz, SVD).  Our historical and geographical journey of the biblical pastoral ministry during the last 40 and more years since the promulgation of Dei Verbum has provided us also with a fair picture of its situation at present and perhaps already with some presentiments of the challenges for the future.  While anticipating the release of the post-synodal document on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”23from Pope Benedict, the following Propositions, which align with the recommendations formulated at CBF and UCCBA events, submitted to him are deemed to be of special relevance to the biblical pastoral commitments of Asia-Oceania:

Biblical Pastoral Ministry (Proposition 30)

Dei Verbum exhorts that the Word of God not only be made the soul of theology but also the soul of the whole of pastoral care, of life and of the mission of the Church (cf. DV, 24)… The synod recommends increasing “biblical pastoral ministry”… as biblical animation of the whole of pastoral care.”

Biblical Formation of Christians (Proposition 33)

“Love of the Bible is a grace of the Holy Spirit that permeates the whole life of the believer…. It is hoped that in each cultural region centers of formation will be established for the laity and for missionaries of the Word, where they learn to understand, live and proclaim the Word of God.”

Word of God and Prayerful Reading (Proposition 22)

“The synod proposes that all the faithful, including young people, be exhorted to approach the Scriptures through ‘prayerful’ and assiduous ‘reading’ (cf. DV, 25)…  Conscious of the present widespread diffusion of ‘lectio divina’ and of other similar methods, the synodal fathers… encourage all ecclesial leaders to multiply their efforts.”

Word of God and Small Communities (Proposition 21)

“The synod recommends the formation of small ecclesial communities where the Word of God is heard, studied and prayed, also in the form of the rosary as biblical meditation… The service of the laity that leads these communities must be appreciated and promoted as they carry out a missionary service.”

Bible and Inculturation (Proposition 48)

“The Word of God must penetrate every environment so that culture produces original expressions of life, liturgy and Christian thought (cf. Catechesi Tradendae, 53)…  For a genuine inculturation of the evangelical message, the formation of missionaries with adequate means must be ensured.”

Word of God and Commitment in the World (Proposition 39)

“The Word of God helps to recognize the signs of God in all man’s fatigues directed to making the world more just and habitable; it helps in identifying the ‘signs of the times’ present in history; stimulates believers to commit themselves in favor of those who suffer...  The struggle for justice and transformation is an integral part of evangelization” (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 19).

Word of Reconciliation and Conversion (Proposition 8)24

“The Church must be the community that, reconciled by that Word that is Jesus Christ (cf. Eph 2:14-18; Col 1:22), offers all a space of reconciliation, of mercy and of forgiveness…seeking to construct a just and peaceful society.”

A New BiblicalVision:  “Millennium of the Word”

The Word of God is the reason for the Church’s being, the sustenance of its life, and the heart of its activity.25 In this Third Christian Millennium, through the exercise of “regionalized” spirit of collaboration among CBF members and their associates, we believe deeper inculturation of the Word can be made through continued discovery of “newness in its ardor, newness in its methods, and newness in its expressions.”  Taking inspiration from the mystery of incarnation that “Jesus took flesh as an Asian” (cf. Jn 1:14), our contribution towards a renewal of the biblical pastoral ministry (cf. Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23-24) is to be “open to the new and surprising ways in which the face of Jesus might be presented in Asia .”26 In the same context, for Oceania , every aspect of the Church’s mission to the world must be born of a renewal which comes from contemplation of the face of Christ.  The many cultures of Oceania forming a rich and distinctive civilization of love and peace inspired by faith in Jesus Christ will be the guiding vision of the subregion.27   

Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David, CBF Executive Committee member representative of Asia-Oceania and Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate of the Philippines, shared his insights about the “Word of God as Dialogue” with humanity and the world—GOD’S LOGOS as DIA-LOGOS.  He proposes that this “dialogue” must happen in two directions:  (1) The Word of God is the Life of the Church (Ad Intra)—“The Church nurtures her ecclesial communion only through constant attentiveness to God’s Word…and when she progresses in faith, hope and charity.”(2) The Word of God is the Mission of the Church (Ad Extra)—“The Church is sent to carry on with God’s dialogue with the world and the rest of humanity—to invite them to immerse into the fullness of divine life in the communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Looking ahead, we can also draw inspiration from the rich reflections on “Dei Verbum and Asian Theology of Revelation” presented by Fr. Jacob Theckanath, Executive Secretary of FABC–Office of Evangelization and former CBF Subregional Coordinator of South Asia, at the 2005 CBF IV Asia-Oceania Biblical Congress:  “In the very heart of the Asian churches, the Asian realities and the Word in the Bible should intersect.  What might happen and should happen is a ‘meeting of the Spirit with the Spirit.’  The Churches will become   effective instruments of God in Asia when they would listen with an Asian spirit to God’s Spirit; and with God’s Spirit would listen to the Asian spirit.  Such a spiritually symbiotic living will somehow manifest the Asian face of Jesus.”

In the same context, the longest-serving late CBF President, Bishop Alberto Ablondi (1984-1996) made a particular reference to Asia-Oceania in his inspiringkeynote address on “The Bible in the New Evangelization,” at the 1990 CBF IV Plenary Assembly, which could shed light on our biblical pastoral ministry:  “the ‘regionalization’ of the CBF and at the same time the convergence of the whole Federation towards those central points of the world which will become determinative, such as the Pacific area and China.”

While Ecclesia in Asia and Ecclesia in Oceania will continue to serve as a blueprint for the Church in this huge region, the expected Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Word of God from Pope Benedict will be taken as the roadmap for our biblical apostolate.  It is our conviction that the local and regional Church will continue to thrive on handing over the Bible and transmitting the Word of Life to peoples of Asia-Oceania in a more extensive and systematic manner (cf. Acts 6:7; 12:24).  Facing the vast extent of the vineyards of biblical pastoral ministry, we see that the laity’s role and contributions are essential in “forming the Church of the Word” (cf. Jn 6:63; 14:23; 15:5) in the third millennium.  Fr. Antonio M. Pernia, SVD, Superior General of the Society of the Divine Word, said:  “The Church of the future will be a predominantly lay Church.  Openness to the laity, contact with the laity, partnership with the laity, collaboration with the laity—this is no longer just a nice slogan today.  It is what prepares us to play appropriately our role in the ‘Church of tomorrow’.”28 During his intervention made at the 2008 Bishops’ Synod, Fr. Pernia said:  “Vatican II’s document, Dei Verbum, puts this nicely by saying ‘Dei Verbum audiens et proclamans’:  listening to the Word of God and proclaiming it (DV,l).  The missionary Church proclaims the Word of God, but also listens to it—as it is revealed in Sacred Scriptures.”  

This year 2010 meaningfully marks the 45th anniversary of both Dei Verbum and the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity—Apostolicam Actuositatem [AA] (the two documents were providentially promulgated on the same day—18 November, 1965).  “The laity must make progress in holiness in a happy and ready spirit… Only by the light of faith and by meditation on the word of God can one always and everywhere recognize God in Whom ‘we live, and move, and have our being’ (Acts 17:28), seeking His will in every event” (AA, 4).

Since the Bangalore Assembly of CBF in 1984, the resolutions of forming lay people, the youth, and SCCs as agents of the proclamation of the Word have been resounded at meetings of different levels as well as the Federation’s subsequent six-yearly Plenary Assemblies.29 In 1987, the Seventh Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops addressed in depth the topic on “The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World.” The apostolic exhortation, Christifideles Laici(CL), states:  “The lay faithful ought to regard themselves as an active and responsible part of the great venture of re-evangelization, called as they are to proclaim and to live the gospel in service to the person and to society while respecting the totality of the values and needs of both” (CL, 64).  At the conclusion of the 8th UCCBA Meeting in 2007, which was guided by the theme “Experiences of Community Building with the Word of God,” all participants resonated wholeheartedly with the prophetic testament by a mainland Chinese priest, Fr. Joseph Zhang Wenxi:30  “Now is the ‘Age of the Word’ and ‘Age of the Laity’!” 

In fidelity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13-15) and in communion and filial oneness with the Universal Church, the Eternal Word of Life (cf. Jn 1:1-5) will continue to guide us in our  realization of a “new way of being Church” in Asia-Oceania.  This entails our constant making the message and life of Christ truly incarnate in the minds and lives of our peoples with the concurrent building up of truly local churches (cf. Col 4:17).  Setting our sight on “Jesus being a lay person born on Asian soil,” and fostering mutual support in the region (cf. Phil 1:27), we will be able to serve as the divine partners of God to bring forth a “new heaven and new earth” (cf. Is 43:19, Rev 21:1-5).  In the prophetic style of Jesus of Nazareth , the proclamation of the Word of God “ought to appear to each person as a solution to his problems, an answer to his questioning, a widening of his values and an overall fulfillment to his aspirations”(cf. 2008 Bishops’ Synod,Instrumentum Laboris, 51).

Asia-Oceania is the earth’s largest region, covering two continents, and is home to more than two-thirds of the world’s population, with China and India accounting for half of it.  Looking towards the future, it is our vision that by living and growing as a “Church of the Laity” nourished by sacred Scripture (cf. Acts 2:42), we will continue contributing to the goals of creating and promoting a “Culture of the Bible” (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17; Col 3:16-17; Mt 4:4) and extending the missionary “Church of the Word” (cf. Mt 7:24; Jn 15:16).  One concrete proposal of our Asian-Oceanian contribution to the biblical apostolate is to unite lay institutions which are CBF members and other member organizations that work closely with lay people to form a more organized contributing force to empower and strengthen “Lay Ministry of the Word” (cf. Rom 8:28), enforcing continued formation of lay people by lay people (cf. Eph 4:15-16).

Our guiding star is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, who “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51), finding the profound knot that unites apparently distinct events, acts and things in the great divine plan.31 With the Churchthroughout the world, being attentive to the “signs of our times” (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 1)and “one heart with many faces,”32  we can make concerted collaborative efforts to enable this triennium to become more truly a “Millennium of Asia-Oceania” (cf. Acts 20:32) and “Millennium of God’s Word” (cf. Rev 1:3; Lk 1:45; 1 Jn 1:1-4), reaping a great biblical harvest with bountiful fruits (cf. Mt 13:23; Lk 8:15)so that “the Word of God continues tospread and triumph”!(2 Thes 3:1;DV, 26)

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PRAYER TO THE WORD

“O Word Incarnate!
Word of my God!
I wish to spend my entire life
listening to You!
O glorious Word of the Father!
Disperse the darkness of my soul
So that enlightened by You
I may always do the
Will of the Father.”

Venerable Fr. Gabriel Maria Allegra

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ENDNOTES

1. Enzo Bianchi, Founder and Prior of the Ecumenical Monastic Community of Bose, Italy, called the “Vatican II Council the end of the Babylonian exile of the Word of God”! Enzo Bianchi, Pregare la Parola, Introduzione alla “lectio divina” (Turin, Italy: Piero Gribaudi Publisher, 1974), 7.
2. From its inception in 1969 until the Plenary Assembly in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1990, it was known as the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate; available at www.c-b-f.org
3. After being created cardinal by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1959, Cardinal Augustine Bea, SJ (1881-1968), was appointed the first president of the newly erected Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on 6 June, 1960. Cardinal Bea was well-known for his contributive role in the Vatican II Council (1962-65) and in the making of Dei Verbum (promulgated on 18 November, 1965) in particular. On 26 October, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI praised Cardinal Bea specially for his great contribution in forming more than 7,000 professors of sacred Scripture and promoters of biblical groups.
4. Pontifical Biblical Commission: “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church,” IV, B.
5. The FABC held its foundational meeting which gathered 180 Asian bishops with the presence of Pope Paul VI in November 1970. The Federation comprises 15 bishops’ conferences in Asia and 10 associate members covering ten countries and territories.
6. The CBF-FABC Dei Verbum Congress 2005 was graced with the first-time presence of a mainland Chinese prelate, the late Archbishop Pius Jin Peixian (who was vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China) of the Diocese of Liaoning, Shenyang.
7. Saint Gregory the Great: “Learn the heart of God from the word of God.”
8. The Biblical Pastoral Training (4 January – 3 April, 2010) organized by the EAPI (associate member of CBF) in collaboration with the CBF-South East Asia was a concrete implementation of the resolution of the 2005 Dei Verbum Congress concerning formation of biblical animators for Asia-Oceania. The course attracted 66 participants from Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.
9. http://cbfsea.wordpress.com
10. Asian Integrated Pastoral Approach (AsIPA) was adapted from the Lumko methods of dealing with the Bible in South Africa by the FABC as an effective way of a Bible-centered renewal of the Church in Asia. The 5th AsIPA General Assembly gathered 225 participants from 17 countries in Davao, Philippines on 20-28 October, 2009 to reflect on the theme “Do This in Memory of Me (Lk 22:19): Bread Broken and Word Shared in SCCs.”
11. Ecclesia in Oceania, 6.
12. Fr. Gabriel Maria Allegra, OFM, was born on 26 December, 1907. He was inspired by the first Catholic missionary to China, John of Montecorvino, who in 1295 translated the Psalms and the New Testament into the Mongolian language. Since then, many attempts were made to translate the Scriptures into Chinese but only parts of it were successfully completed. Fr Allegra was determined to give the entire Word of God to this great nation. In 1931 he left Italy for China at the age of 24, with an ardent love for the Word of God and the Chinese people, and confidence in the Virgin Mary.
13. The Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF) was founded by Fr. Gabriel Maria Allegra on the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels on 2 August, 1945 in Beijing, China. A year before the establishment of SBF, with Blessed John Duns Scotus, OFM (1265-1308) as its patron, Fr. Allegra already completed the full Chinese translation of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew and Aramaic languages personally after around 10 years of intensive labor.
14. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun is an appointed member of the Vatican Commission on the Church in China established by Pope Benedict XVI following the Holy Father’s Letter to the Chinese Catholics in 2007. The Commission held its third plenary meeting on 22-24 March, 2010, followed with a press statement on four key issues: (1) communion with the pope; (2) avoiding participation in contradictory meetings; (3) responsibility of Chinese bishops in forming church personnel; (4) reference to bishops and priests still in prison.
15. UCAN Commentary by Cecilia Chui: “Catholic Biblical Federa-tion to Focus on China” (English: 23 July, 2008; Chinese: 1 August, 2008).
16. The Holy Land Scripture Training Course, a CBF project from 29 January to 22 February, 2007, gathered priests and teachers from the seminaries of Beijing, central-southern China, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Shandong, Shenyang, Shanxi, Hebei, and Shanghai.
17. Cf. Cecilia Chui, “China Promotes Biblical Formation and Pastoral Ministry, Responding to the Message of the Synod of Bishops to the People of God,” a Chinese report in Biblical Quarterly (Winter 2009) of Studium Biblicum Franciscanum: 29-33.
18. References: (1) Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholic Church in China (27 May, 2007); (2) The “Compendium” of the aforementioned China Letter (24 May, 2009); (3) The “Communique” of the Vatican Commission on the Church in China Meeting (25 March, 2010).
19. The Second Bishops’ Institute for the Biblical Apostolate (BIBA II) was held in Johor, Malaysia, on 1-5 March, 1999. The First BIBA was convened in Manila, Philippines on 27-31 March, 1995 by Bishop Cirilo R. Almario, Jr. The aim of the establishment of BIBA was to promote an understanding of the biblical apostolate among bishops.
20. Cf. Final Statements of CBF Assemblies: Bangalore (1984 - 3.2.7); Bogota (1990 - 8.1.3); Hong Kong (1996 - 8.1.3); Lebanon (2002 - 5.3).
21. The International Dei Verbum Congress, held on 14-18 September, 2005 in Rome, gathered 450 participants from 100 countries. Dur-ing a special audience with CBF members on 16 September, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned his conviction that “a new spiritual springtime” would come about in the Church through lectio di-vina.
22. Cf. Final Statement of the 2008 CBF VII Plenary Assembly: “Our response to the challenges of our reality,” IV, 18-19.
23. The opening day of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 5 October, 2008 was the 5th canonization anniversary of Saint Arnold Janssen, founder of three missionary congregations—the Society of the Divine Word, Servants of the Holy Spirit and Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration, and St. Joseph Freinademetz, one of the first SVD missionaries to China.
24. Proposition 8 on “Word of Reconciliation and Conversion” relates fittingly with CBF-Asia’s priority for China in connection with the “Communiqué” of 25 March, 2010 after the Third Plenary Assembly of the Vatican Commission on the Church in China.
25. Intervention by Fr. Antonio M. Pernia, SVD, at the Bishops’ Synod on 10 October, 2008.
26. Ecclesia in Asia, 1 and 20.
27. Ecclesia in Oceania, 17 and 19.
28. Cf. Fr. Antonio Pernia: Superior General’s Report for the SVD’s XVI General Chapter in 2006.
29. Cf. Final Statements of CBF Plenary Assemblies: Bangalore (1984 - 3.1.2.6; 3.2.3; 3.3.5; 3.3.7); Bogotá (1990 – 8.3.3.2; 8.3.4.1; 8.3.4.2; 8.3.4.6; 8.3.5.5; 8.3.5.6); Lebanon (2002 – 4.1; 4.4); Dar es Salaam (2008 – IV, 18-19).
30. Fr. Joseph Zhang Wenxi of Hebei, China completed his doctorate in biblical studies in the USA in 2010. He attended the 2007 UCCBA Meeting and the 2008 CBF VII Plenary Assembly.
31. Cf. Final Message on 2008 Bishops’ Synod: III. The House of the Word: The Church.
32. “One Heart, Many Faces” was the theme of canonization of Saint Arnold Janssen, SVD (1837-1909) and St. Joseph Freinademetz, SVD (1852-1908) on 5 October, 2003.

PASTORAL PROGRAMS
ACADEMIC PROGRAMS