Pope Francis appoints Fr Adrian to Pontifical Biblical Commission

Rev Dr Adrian Graffy, scripture scholar, author, director of CEF and parish priest in the Diocese of Brentwood has been appointed by Pope Francis to become a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

This commission, established in 1902, has the task of promoting the study of the Bible among Catholics and to illuminate and discuss issues arising from interpretations of Sacred Scripture.

On his appointment, Fr Adrian said, “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.” Fr Adrian at Scripture ConferenceHe added, “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for promoting understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”  (Links to these two CTS publications can be found on WhatGoodNews’ home page.)

Rt Rev Alan Williams, sm, Bishop of Brentwood, said: “Fr Adrian takes an enormously valued lead in supporting parishes in our diocese to know their faith better so as to be able to share it. The news of his appointment by Pope Francis is wonderful and a cause of celebration. It serves as a reminder of the centrality of the Scriptures to the Christian life and is a source of encouragement for us all to seek ways of deepening our prayer with, and understanding of, God’s Word. This is a great honour for Dr Graffy and a great honour for the Church in England and Wales.”

Rt Rev Seamus Cunningham, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle Diocese and member of the National Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said: “This is a tremendous honour for Fr Graffy and I am delighted for him. It is a just affirmation of his tireless work to encourage the Word of God to be read and heard. The Bible, as the Sacred Scripture, is a living Word which, through the power of the Holy Spirit, changes lives. The work to which Fr Graffy has been called to do by His Holiness is invaluable.”

Fr Adrian received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.  He is parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex and Director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation which publishes this website.  Among his most recent publications are The Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (part of the Take and Read series, edited by Fr Adrian and published by Alive Publishing).  His weekly gospel reflections can be found on WhatGoodNews.

The appointment to the Pontifical Commission is for five years. The next plenary session of the twenty members of the Commission is 13-17 April, 2015.

The Commission for Evangelisation and Formation offer their good wishes as Fr Adrian continues to promote Scripture in his new role.

18th Ecumenical Study Day: Rev Dr Adrian Graffy “Wrestling with Romans”

The Letter to the Romans is arguably the most difficult book in the Bible, and certainly one of the most important. This is possibly why a crowd of over one hundred people gathered at Brentwood Cathedral Hall for an Ecumenical Study Day on Romans given by the director of CEF, Fr Adrian Graffy.

The focus on Romans comes at a particularly interesting time. We are approaching the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in 1517. Two years earlier Martin Luther was working on his Commentary on Romans, and grasped that the ‘justice’ or ‘righteousness’ of God should be understood as an invitation to trust in God’s mercy.

Paul says in a crucial verse: ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, for in it the justice of God is revealed for all those who believe, Jews first and Gentiles also.’ (1:16)

Romans highlights the fundamental points of Paul’s teaching. Firstly, it is through faith that salvation comes. Paul places the figure of Abraham before us. He believed and that is what justified him. The same is true for those who believe in Christ. We are saved by faith and the freely given gift of God, and not by the works of the law. In the magnificent eighth chapter of his letter, Paul explains what it is to live according to the ‘law of the spirit’. Later on, Paul explains the mysterious plan of God which welcomes both Jew and Gentile into the community of faith. In chapters 9-11 he shows that the slowness to believe in Christ of the majority of Jews was God’s way of giving Gentiles the opportunity to become believers. Paul is convinced that in time the Jews too will come to Christ and ‘all Israel will be saved’. These statements of Paul have been of the utmost importance in developing the outreach to Judaism found in the document on Non-Christian religions of the Second Vatican Council.

Romans has influenced theology from the very start. Great commentaries were written by John Chrysostom, Augustine and others. Romans has had and continues to have an enormous impact on Christian faith and Christian life. As we have noted, it had a crucial part to play in the development of ideas at the Reformation. But it remains a difficult letter. No surprise then that Fr Adrian borrowed the title for the Ecumenical Study Day from Bishop John A T Robinson and called the day ‘Wrestling with Romans’

To listen to the three parts of Fr Adrian’s fascinating talk click here:  Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

18th Ecumenical Study Day: Rev Dr Adrian Graffy “Wrestling with Romans” – Part 3

18th Ecumenical Study Day: Rev Dr Adrian Graffy “Wrestling with Romans” – Part 2

18th Ecumenical Study Day: Rev Dr Adrian Graffy “Wrestling with Romans” – Part 1

Summer session of the Legacy of Vatican II

The first part of the Vatican II: The Legacy Series finished in June 2013, but the podcasts of the three talks are available on WhatGoodNews at any time.

A wealth of opportunities to learn about the Second Vatican Council

Rev Dr Adrian GraffyNot content to offer five ecumenical study days tailored for the Year of Faith and the 50 year anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council,  the Commission for Evangelisation and Formation is also offering a series of evening talks about the legacy of the Second Vatican Council, providing a rich panorama on the Council’s work.

Fr Adrian Graffy, who heads the Commission, wants the enormous breadth of the teaching of the Council to be better known, and has called upon experts, both local and national, to share their knowledge in this series of nine talks.

Summer series

Mgr George Stokes takes questions from the floorThe series comprises three sets of three talks; the first set of which is now complete.  In it, Mgr George Stokes explored the four Constitutions of Vatican II and exhorted his audience to read these and the other Council documents.  Then Fr Adrian Graffy talked about the teaching of Vatican II on the Bible, offering an inspiring complement to the study day he gave earlier in the year.  Finally, Rev Dr David Chapman shared his views on what the ecumenism promoted by Vatican II has achieved, painting a picture of great strides forward and a long path yet to travel.

Rev Dr David Chapman prepares to speakThese talks took place in the Cathedral House Conference Room on three consecutive Thursday evenings.  The audience enjoyed an address from the evening’s speaker, followed by an opportunity for informal discussion over tea, coffee and biscuits.  The CEF bookstall offered copies of the four Vatican II Constitutions, as well as a variety of other books suitable for those wanting to learn more about this great Church Council.  Question and answer sessions rounded out the evenings.

Autumn seriesThe audience listens attentively to Mgr George Stokes

In autumn the series continues with Mgr David Manson considering the development of the liturgy after Vatican II, Michelle Moran exploring the new movements and communities in the Vatican II Church, and Fr Paul Keane telling the story of the Declaration on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae.

Winter series

The final part is the winter series which will see Sr Bridget Tighe explaining how the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, Ad Gentes, gave new impetus to the Church’s mission, Fr Dominic Howarth examining the deepening understanding of priesthood and personal vocation in the Vatican II Church, and Sr Margaret Shepherd explaining the teaching of the Declaration Nostra Aetate, and asking what difference it has made.

Come along and learn more….

The Commission for Evangelisation and Formation offers various events free of charge and welcomes Christians from the Diocese and beyond. Further information is available on this website or by contacting CEF at cef-at-dioceseofbrentwood.org or 01277 265289.

Rev Dr Adrian Graffy on Dei Verbum at Year of Faith Study Day

On Saturday, 9 March, 2013, Brentwood Cathedral Halls were nearly bursting at the seams to accommodate Essex and East London Christians who came to hear Rev Dr Adrian Graffy talk about Vatican II and the Bible.  He used the day to tell the story of Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, one of the four constitutions to come from that famous council which started just over 50 years ago.

By interweaving both his own anecdotes of life in Rome and his extensive biblical knowledge, Fr Adrian made the fascinating story of Dei Verbum a very personal narrative.  He introduced many of the influential participants, both those who would have liked to see as little change as possible, and those who would have liked the council to go much further and certainly those holding the conflicting positions of the relative importance of tradition and Scripture in Divine Revelation.  Fr Adrian made a story which took place in the 60s topical by showing how Joseph Ratzinger, then a young German priest and college lecturer, was instrumental in the work of the council in his capacity as the theological consultant to the Archbishop of Cologne.

Fr Adrian told the story of Dei Verbum through its many rewrites, through all four sessions of the council, through the controversies, through the personalities involved and through the diplomacy and wisdom which finally won the day.

This was the third Study Day which CEF offered as part of the Year of Faith series.  It has done as much as its predecessors to highlight the contemporary importance of a council that started fifty years ago.  It has awakened more interest in an assembly that accomplished far more than ‘make the priest turn around and get rid of the Latin.’  Two more Year of Faith Study Days are planned:  Rev Dr Peter Phillips speaking about Vatican II and the Church on 8 June 2013 and the Right Hon John Battle talking about Vatican II and Beyond on 12 October 2013.  Booking is essential, so if you’d like a place contact CEF on 01277 265289 or cef-at-dioceseofbrentwood.org.  As always the days are free of charge and include a light sandwich lunch.