On May 12, the American Bible Society celebrated 200 years of work to bring the Bible not only into every American home but also to every corner of the world. A.B.S. leaders described in detail their plans to increase access to Scripture by investing in translation efforts as well as by working to help people who have experienced trauma, especially in war-torn countries, find comfort and healing in the word of God.
In 1916, when A.B.S. celebrated its centenary, America’s editors explained that the Catholic Church could not join in the widespread congratulations because it could not endorse the distribution of Scripture outside the church’s interpretive authority. One hundred years later, the A.B.S. bicentennial celebration opened with Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, reading a message of congratulations from the Vatican secretary of state. He then introduced Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, who read a personal message from Pope Francis to the international delegates to the United Bible Societies’ World Assembly, which coincided with the A.B.S. celebration. To say that this would have been unimaginable a century ago is to understate the case dramatically.
For our part, America is happy, finally, to add its editorial voice in congratulations, and more than that, in gratitude. We have partnered with the American Bible Society in our “Living Word” series and also in the ongoing sponsorship of the Word column in every issue of the magazine. The project of bringing the word of God to a world in need is large enough to demand all we have to offer, and finding companions for the work is a gift and a grace.