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SYNOD-DINARDO Oct-13-2008 (440 words) xxxi

Texas cardinal describes Bible Belt as 'frame of mind'

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Bible Belt refers geographically to parts of the southern United States, but it is also "a frame of mind" in which Bible passages and images are alive and relevant to life, said Texas Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

The cardinal addressed the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible Oct. 11, sharing stories of faith from his region and suggesting the Catholic Church draw up a "compendium for the reading and sharing of sacred Scripture."

Cardinal DiNardo said the document should be addressed to the faithful, not experts, and should "highlight the rich and useful methods and approaches in the church, past and present, for reading, interpreting, praying and living the word of God."

The compendium would provide guidance to Catholics who read the Bible alone or in groups and would give them an understanding of the church's approach to the Scriptures, which is important especially for Catholics who "deal regularly with non-Catholic Bible study groups and individuals," he said.

Cardinal DiNardo told the synod he was speaking on "behalf of Catholics who live in the famous Bible Belt of the southern United States. But, though a location, the Bible Belt is a frame of mind also."

"There are surely issues and problems with this mindset," he said, "but it has kept alive a biblical imagination and vocabulary" as well as a sense of God still at work in the world.

Cardinal DiNardo told the synod about a Catholic woman whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Ike and a non-Catholic woman whose home was flooded to the second floor.

He met the Catholic when he went to the cathedral to assess the damage. She noted that the statue of Mary was still on top of the cathedral and, quoting from the Gospel of Luke, she said, "'Blessed is she among women.' We will be okay."

An hour later he met the other woman who talked about the damage to her home, saying, "but 'the Lord drew me out of the miry clay,'" a line from Psalm 40.

"Both responses were deeply biblical and touching," the cardinal told the synod.

While some Americans would ridicule their faith and Bible quoting, he said, "they both displayed intelligence and humility. Their attitude reflected openness to the Holy Spirit and their quotations of the biblical texts were wise and prayerful."

Cardinal DiNardo said he hoped the synod would keep such people in mind in its deliberations, helping the faithful, correcting them when necessary, but especially supporting "their hope and their lived knowledge that God is active in the world."


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