BEIJING, China – On 18 October 2018, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and Bishop’s Conference of the Catholic Church in China (CCPA/ BCCCC) marked the 50th anniversary of the Studium Biblicum Bible with a commemoration forum held at Beijing Friendship Hotel.
At the event were friends and ministry partners of the Catholic Church in China who brought their greetings and congratulatory messages, including representatives from United Bible Societies (UBS), Catholic Biblical Federation and Amity Printing Company. Also in attendance were Biblical Studies lecturers from different Catholic seminaries across China.
Opening the forum, Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai, Vice President and General Secretary of the BCCCC, quoted from St. Jerome affirming that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. He said, “The publication and distribution of the Bible brings a great source of life to the Chinese Catholic Bishops, clergies and believers. It is an indispensable spiritual food.”
Bishop Guo thanked Studium Biblicum Franciscanum for giving free copyright of the Studium Biblicum Bible to the CCPA/ BCCCC. He also expressed his gratitude towards UBS for supporting the Catholic Church in printing Bibles through generous funding of Bible paper and thanked Amity Printing Company for providing high-quality printing and excellent service.
Mr Qiu Zhonghui, Board Chairman of Amity Printing Company, said that to the Catholics, the Bible is the divine revelation of God and the well spring of life to the Catholic Church and believers. Amity Printing Company looked forward to serving the Church in China as before in Bible printing so that “more can have access to the Word of God for meditation and reflection, to listen to the holy teachings of Christ and thereby grow in the path of godliness and bear beautiful testimony for the Lord.”
In his speech, Mr Kua Wee Seng, Director of UBS China Partnership, thanked God for the recent Provisional Agreement between China and Vatican on the appointment of Bishops in China. He congratulated and thanked the Chinese Government and Vatican for this historic agreement, and shared the joy with the Catholic Church in China and all the Catholic faithful in China.
He quoted from Articles 22 and 26 of Dei Verbum (“Word of God” in Latin), a Dogmatic Constitution promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1965 at the Second Vatican Council. The document stated that “easy access to the Sacred Scriptures should be provided for all the Christian faithful” and that “suitable and correct translations are made into different languages.” The hope is that there may be a “new stimulus for the life of the Spirit from a growing reverence for the word of God, which ‘lasts forever’ (Is. 40:8; see 1 Peter 1:23-25).”
The hope was fulfilled for the Chinese Catholics when the Studium Biblicum Bible was made available in China from the 1990s onwards. The peak of its distribution was in 2009 when a big gift came from Taize Community which co-funded with UBS the printing and free distribution of 200,000 copies of the Bible and 800,000 copies of the New Testament, blessing one million Catholics in China with the Word of God!
These free Bibles and New Testament were among the first batch to be printed in Simplified Chinese formatted in horizontal layout, a fresh update done by UBS from the original traditional script formatted in vertical layout. Since then, the Studium Biblicum Bible has been printed in the new format.
Since 1994, more than 2 million copies of Bible and 1.16 million copies of the New Testament have been printed at Amity Printing Company for the Catholic Church in China, out of which 1.65 million copies of Bible and 1.11 million copies of the New Testament are the Studium Biblicum Bible supported by UBS.
Moving forward, what are some new plans the Catholic Church in China hope to achieve in Scripture ministry?
During the forum, suggestions surrounding a stronger focus on the Bible and Bible ministry were put forward by the participants. These include setting up of a Bible research institute to promote accurate interpretation and rigorous research of the Bible, more effective sharing of Bible resources and growing deeper in studying the Bible at the seminaries and in learning the Bible among the Catholic faithful.
It was observed that in the light of improved ties between China and Vatican, the 40th anniversary of China’s Reform and Open Door policy and the 50th Anniversary of the Studium Biblicum Bible, the Catholic Church in China has entered a new era.
Bishop Yang Xiaoting, Vice President of BCCCC said, “The forum was meaningful and important as it opened a new chapter for further learning, study and research of the Bible. We are in a new period; new opportunities await us ahead.”
In closing his speech, Mr Kua quoted Pope Francis in his address to the visiting UBS Church Relations Committee delegation in 2017: “Let us walk together to spread the word (cf. Acts 6:7). Let us pray together, that “the Father’s will be done” (cf. Mt 6:10). Let us work together, that what the Lord has said may be accomplished in us (cf. Lk 1:38).”
Indeed, let’s pray for the continuing spread of God’s Word in China in this new era.
Story: Cynthia Oh
Edited: Angela Teo
Photos: Courtesy of CCPA/BCCCC
2018 © United Bible Societies China Partnership