American Bible Society to Nurture Love & Knowledge of Scripture at World Meeting of Families

Historic Event Marks Interfaith Milestone

Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia to conclude the 2015 World Meeting of Families (WMOF), capping off his first visit to the United States with the celebration of a Papal Mass on Sept. 26. He has said his mission in coming is to strengthen Catholic families’ love and practice of the faith—including encouragement of regular Bible study in the family setting.

To accomplish this goal, the Pontiff—and with him the American Catholic Church at large—will have ample assistance from American Bible Society, which, through its Department of Catholic Ministries, will be a major presence at the WMOF through a variety of initiatives.

During the Sept. 22 – 25 event, American Bible Society will:

  • Distribute 500,000 free copies of a six-language edition of the Gospel of St. Luke;
  • Publish a book featuring Pope Francis discussing Scripture in-depth with both Jewish and Protestant dialogue partners;
  • Conduct an advertising campaign in the city’s transit system to encourage families to weather storms of life with the encouragement of God’s Word;
  • Offer live and online courses in the ancient practice of Lectio Divina (Divine Reading); and
  • Run a social media campaign—enlivened by special crews canvassing the WMOF main setting in the Convention Center as well as on the streets of Philadelphia—that will invite families to post their unique stories of faith.

That American Bible Society is making a significant investment in this Catholic event is “an absolute milestone,” said Mario Paredes, director of the organization’s Department of Catholic Ministries, adding that it is a “testimony to the rapid and ongoing rapprochement between the Protestant and Catholic worlds.”

“For nearly 400 years, the Catholic Church has lagged behind its Protestant sister churches with regard to the encouragement of the laity to develop a love and knowledge of the Bible,” Paredes said. “Mutual suspicion of proselytizing is making way for an ever deeper friendship and basis for collaboration on a variety of fronts, including the encouragement of all the faithful to become passionate students of Scripture as the fount of spiritual wisdom and power. Our presence at the World Meeting of Families is a prime example of this interfaith bond.”

American Bible Society is helping reintroduce Catholics to Lectio Divina, a form of (self) guided reading of Scripture designed to deepen both intellectual and spiritual understanding. In Spanish, English and Italian editions, Lectio Divina publications have been consistent best-sellers for American Bible Society. Lectio Divina is a way to taste Scripture—to fall in love with Scripture, an encouragement to pray more,” said Paredes, “including and especially in the family setting.” American Bible Society will invite WMOF attendees to join in a 21-day Lectio Divina, which can be pursued individually and privately or in a group setting.

The specially published Gospel of St. Luke—a polyglot edition featuring the text in English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Vietnamese—is a salute to “The Year of Mercy,” called by Pope Francis to begin next December. Luke’s Gospel is often referred to as the “Gospel of Mercy,” and that spirit permeates this papacy, notes New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan in a foreword to the American Bible Society-created edition. “The Gospel According to St. Luke” carries an introduction by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in which he expresses the hope that the WMOF will prompt families to make the “decision to allow God’s Word to live in your houses and in those of your city.”

In support of its WMOF efforts, American Bible Society launched a website designed to invite families to speak openly about both their joys and struggles in living out their faith:—and an accompanying Twitter campaign, #EnterTheStory.

“American Bible Society is going all out to make a difference at the World Meeting of Families,” said Paredes. “We are writing a new chapter in Catholic-Protestant relations in this country.”

About American Bible Society

Since 1816, American Bible Society has worked to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message. One of the nation’s first and most enduring ministries, today’s American Bible Society provides resources across a variety of platforms enabling first-time readers and seasoned theologians alike to engage with the best-selling book of all time. For more information, visit American.Bible.