The ‘Year of the God Who Speaks’

The year 2020 is dedicated to the rediscovery of the Holy Scriptures, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the “Verbum Domini”, the apostolic exhortation of Pope Benedict, and 1600 years since the death of Saint Jerome. The initiative has been jointly promoted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the “Bible society”, a charity that brings the Bible to over 200 Countries.

The ‘ Year of the God Who Speaks’ will begin next September 30th at the National Gallery with a recorded message by Catholic Primate Vincent Nichols. This is an initiative planned by Catholic bishops in cooperation with the “Bible Society” that will support and fund the new activities of the Year. The project includes a Gospel for people with autism and the Gospel of Matthew in sign language for hearing-impaired persons. Initiatives include a work of art brought across all twenty-two Catholic dioceses of England and Wales to “initiate a conversation with God” and several concerts of migrant choirs.

Fleur Connell, coordinator of the activities, and the bishop of Wrexham Peter Brignall had the idea of dedicating twelve months to a full immersion into the Scriptures. “We are members of a study group on the Scriptures within the Evangelisation and Catechesis department of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales”, said Fleur Dorrell.

“We thought it would be a wonderful idea for the English Catholic Church to dedicate a full year to the Scriptures in an unprecedented manner. We were inspired by the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation “Verbum Domini” and by the year marking 1600 years since the death of Saint Jerome, the Father and Doctor of the Church who translated the Greek text of most of the Old Testament into Latin and all the Hebrew Bible.”

The “Year of the God Who Speaks” will begin at the National Gallery on September 30th, Feast Day of Saint Jerome. In a video message screened with a portrait of the Saint in Trafalgar square, in the heart of London, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Catholic Primate of England and Wales, will illustrate the figure of Saint Jerome and his import as pre-eminent Catholic Biblical scholar. “We wish to find new, unprecedented ways to promote the Bible,” said Fleur Dorrell. “Using creativity to communicate the message that the Bible is a thriving, dynamic way to speak of God.”

During the “Year of the God Who Speaks” the Catholic Church of England and Wales will have the opportunity to listen to the voices of a wide range of groups, giving special relevance to migrants and political refugees. “The choirs that will tour the Country will provide this group of people with the opportunity to express themselves in their native language thereby involving many different people through their music”, Dorrell pointed out.

“People with disabilities constitute another important group. We are reflecting on how to bring the Holy Scriptures to the visually-impaired or to people who are simply lacking the educational background to understand the Bible.”

The coordinator of the “Year of the God Who Speaks” explained that organisations representing people with disabilities asked her to prepare a Gospel for visual learners addressed to individuals with autism, along with a Gospel of Matthew in sign language for people with hearing impairment.

“The Year of the God Who Speaks’ is a deeply ecumenical initiative. In fact for the past three years, Dorrell has been working both for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and for the “Bible society”. This inter-confessional initiative that reaches out to Protestant and Evangelical faithful proposed Catholic Bishops to work together on the promotion of the Bible. “It is a recognition that in our epoch of secularisation the Bible is one of the most important tools of humanity”, said Fleur Dorrell. “We managed to involved many different groups, Catholic agencies working with migrants, academia, the Charismatic movement, priests and pastors, along with lay faithful, in a veritable work of democracy.” (SIR)

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