Ecumenical Bible Centre

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Official name Centro Biblico Ecumenico - Ecumenical Bible Centre, Association by civil law without any profit purposes.
Country / Continent Argentina / South America
Director of the institute Avda. Jujuy 924 - Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires – Argentina.
Legal holder of the institute Mrs. Virginia Betancur de Uranga.
Sponsor of the institute (We do not have any)
Year of foundation 11th May 1993.
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 1
Staff members of your institute Laypeople: 15. Priests belonging to a religious order: 3. Secular priests: 1. Religious: 6 (5 women, 1 man).
Contact Avenida Jujuy 924

Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Capital Federal, Argentinien

Tel.: (0)11 4942 9644


Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

Centro Biblico Ecumenico - Ecumenical Bible Centre, Association by civil law without any profit purposes.

Director of the institute

Avda. Jujuy 924 - Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires – Argentina.

Legal holder of the institute

Mrs. Virginia Betancur de Uranga.

(We do not have any)

Vision / mission statement

In Latin America the poor understand the Bible according to their reality here, as a transformation factor. The communities are taking and possessing the word of God more and more and are aware that the Bible and life illuminate each other. This experience provides a method of biblical interpretation, a method that seeks to assimilate Jesus on the road to Emmaus: start from the reality, do so in community, take the text seriously and serve life. It is an ecumenical and liberating, committed and faithful interpretation.

Main areas of work

  • To support and accompany the communities who are doing Bible study or want to start it.
  • To nourish the ecumenical quest for spirituality and mysticism in the present historical moment.
  • To contribute to biblical training and education of people who are committed to popular areas, especially considering the role of women.
  • To publish and distribute Bible study material which is popular and easy to understand [or affordable], reliable and rich in content.
  • To try to give answers to the needs of the systematic formation of pastoral workers.
  • Providing a constantly updated database and library, which collect a bigger part of the Latin-American production.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

Our recipients are preferably the most impoverished communities. Even all those who want to intensify their connection to the scripture by the method of lectura orante [meditative Bible reading, a kind of "lectio divina"].

Year of foundation

11th May 1993.

Organisational structure of the institute

The Institute has its headquarters at the above address. Its legal structure is a "non profit association" whose President is Virginia Betancur de Uranga.

Furthermore, the association has a secretary, a treasurer and a review Commission (consisting of two members). The judicial inspection of the nation [Administration of Justice of Argentina] elevated the legal status of the association in 1996.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

Number of employees (empleados): one (administrative secretariat, not identical with the secretariat of civil association).

Staff members of your institute[2]

Laypeople: 15. Priests belonging to a religious order: 3. Secular priests: 1. Religious: 6 (5 women, 1 man). This list describes the "ordinary collaboration". However, there are other instances of collaboration including members of the parish that we accompany. We understand “collaboration" as the specific task of working at the Centro Biblico Ecumenico.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

Theologians, biblical experts, lawyers, teachers, speech therapists.

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

To the popular interpretation of the Bible through the method of lectura orante, especially and primarily among the poor and for the poor.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

Loyalty to the interpretation of reality and the Bible texts, ecumenism, option for most impoverished.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

To generate critical awareness and analysis of reality and Church, to deepen the approach to the Word of God, to work on liberation- and transformation processes of parishes and people.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

  • Bible correspondence course.
  • Education and training processes with the presence (short duration, specific topics).
  • Open training and specialisation meetings.
  • Accompaniment of the parishes through Bible days, meetings, programs or further education.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

In order to describe the recently accompanied pastoral processes broadly, the annual review of 2010 follows.

Presence in education and training processes (outside the office)

  • General Pico, La Pampa (April, June, August, October).
  • Paraná, Entre Ríos (Bible study groups).
  • La Perlita, Merlo-Moreno, Buenos Aires.
  • Esperanza Grande, Diocese of Quilmes, Buenos Aires.
  • Pfarre of San Jose, Libertad, Merlo-Moreno, Buenos Aires.

Education and training processes in the office

  • "Love whisper with flavor of resistance" (training meeting by lectura orante about the Song of Love).
  • "I thank God for you" (training meeting by lectura orante on the First Epistle of the Corinthians).
  • "Paul in the churches: support in and for diversity" (training meeting by lectura orante about the development of diversity according to models in the Pauline churches).

Organisation of meetings, conventions, retreats

  • Retreat of the diocesan clergy, Quilmes, Buenos Aires.
  • "Do you understand what you are reading? To celebrate the festival of word together." Meeting for Bible training by lectura orantes, Chilecito, La Rioja
  • Biblical retreat, company, São Luís do Maranhão and Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
  • Religious meetings Patagonia Comahue, Rawson, Chubut.
  • Bible Week. Methods and hermeneutics, Tarija, Bolivia.
  • "To celebrate the table, to celebrate life." Bible meetings for teachers, Calafate, Santa Cruz.
  • Assembly of God's people (sharing), Merlo-Moreno, Buenos Aires
  • Presence / company CONFAR.

Internal training

  • "Early Christianity: diverse and pluralistic." Training meetings with Francisco Orofino.
  • Specialization Course - New Testament. Centro Biblico Verbo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Bible correspondence course

  • Correction.
  • Support of the pupils.
  • "Revival" of retarded people.
  • Systematisation.
  • Growth.
  • Letters to the pupils / increased communication.

Publications / translations / Reissues

  • - Series "Cercanía" (three, one already published and two in preparation).- Reissues "Travesia".
  • - Revised edition of "Paso 3 CXC"
  • - Liturgies for the correspondence course. Reprint, design, editing and publication.

Furthermore, we here display the email from Miguel Hague SDB, pastor of the parishGeneral Pico, La Pampa Province:

"Hello, dear Team:

Thank you for the report of the evaluation meeting on 4th and 5th December andfor the invitation for the meeting in March, I already noted it in my calendar to remember it, if God wants we will be with you. In the group of nine we arealmost at the end of the booklet [referring to the correspondence course]. It has taken long because it was difficult to find common appointments in the recent past.We met yesterday evening and exchanged until late night. We are very satisfied. The six communities in the districts have a good way back down.

Last Saturday the 18th, we had an exchange and evaluation meeting with a small fire and dinner. IT WAS GORGEOUS! The way traveled up to this point has been worth it, and if God wants, we will continue to work together next year.

I hope that Nancy, Aldo or someone else will send the photos and videos to you.There was even a renewal of the covenant of marriage from one of the poorest families where one of the communities gathered. Guitar music, dance, performances, gifts, etc. There were many good memories and a great mood to continue after the holidays.Dear Virginia: We want to hold on to the four meetings about the Acts of the Apostles in 2011 (April, June, August and October). Is that possible?

I wish you a Merry Christmas, a good end of the year and a great start into the New Year. Warm hugs and many thanks for everything, Miguel. "

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

To document the importance of our task in the mentioned areas, we refer to the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum. According to the exegesis programs by lectura orante we would like to quote a short section from the document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission "The interpretation of the Bible in church":

Although the interpretation of the Bible presents the special task of exegete, it is by no means its monopoly; because the interpretation of the Bible in church goes beyond the academic analysis of texts. For church, the Bible is not simply a collection of historical records from their origins. It receives the Bible as the Word of God, addressed both to itself and to the whole world. This religious belief implicates the update and inculturation of the biblical message as well as the inspired texts are used in many ways in church life: in liturgy, in the personal "lectio divina", in pastoral care and in the ecumenical movement. (Chap. IV, Introduction)

What notion of God inspires your work?

The image of God that inspired our work comes from the Book of Exodus: the God who sees, hears, knows and comes down to free his people; the God who accompanies processes, walks with us through the history, camps with us and shows Himself in all its fullness through Jesus of Nazareth, in the entire practice of His life, in His essential humanity [or, in his essential personhood] and in His death on the cross.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

Our work has its roots in biblical spirituality. Enabled from there, it supports and deepens spiritual Christian processes, which include personhood in its totality and complexity; processes that avoid the new forms of Gnosticism and Docetism, which our religion and our church is facing; processes which take up the history of communities/parishes and nations; processes that meet Jesus, the crucified Jesus.

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

The analysis of reality is an essential part of our method of biblical interpretation and -studies. We use different processes: connections with specific institutions of political analysis (e.g., Centro Nova Tierra),

Guidance of different groups (which means to know their different realities, to visit them before the programs start, etc.) and use of the method itself, which starts with an analysis of reality, "based on our specific vital historical and collective situations", possible through symbols, songs and other expressions of art that are used to "transport" the following reflections. All this determines the "horizon of meaning", from where we then read the scripture texts and study.

These processes are taught through the training of formation and study groups, whose members belong to various areas of pastoral care. In view of the pastoral life in the parishes, our task has certain transversality.

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

We keep two points in the prophetic approaches relevant for our Centros: the critical interpretation of reality and the comprehensive reflection on them, starting with the Good News of Scripture and the presence and option for the impoverished.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

Beyond all the other staff and consultants who accompany us, there are four persons available in the Centro who are daily in the office. Beside the general organisation of tasks, the reception of visitors and training takes place there, and there is a specialized and updated library. This vigorous and practical room has become a "meeting house" for all of us.

To the "specific" elements of the work we refer to answer number 5, concerning the work in 2010.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

Here is a list of the most important publications of our Centro, some of them have already appeared in a new edition. Two books are being translated and published at the moment and also one popular course on Bible training for the parishes in seven steps.

Topical Bible study groups:

  • Jesus y la economía. Propuesta económica del Reino. Fri Carlos Mesters, Francisco Orofino
  • Ternura en la Biblia. La de nuestro Dios Revelar Cercanía. C. Mesters, F. Orofino, D. Vaona.
  • Biblia y violencia. Propuesta de convivencia del Reino desde la Lógica. Tea Frigerio, C., Mesters, F. Orofino.
  • Biblia y Ecología. Reciclar la vida. Tea Frigerio, C., Mesters, F. Orofino.
  • Amor en el libro de casero Oseas. Las del sistema Resistiendo injerencias. Tea Frigerio, C., Mesters, F. Orofino.

Series "Travesia"

  • Evangelio de Marcos. Conflicto and seguimiento.
  • Evangelio de Lucas. En la mesa de Dios hay lugar para todos.
  • Evangelio de Mateo. Yo estoy con ustedes todos los días.
  • Evangelio de Juan. Radiografia de la vida.

Other Publications

  • Nacer de Nuevo. 33 para encuentros bíblicos conocer, amar y seguir a Jesús. C. Mesters.
  • Con Jesús en defensa a contramano de la vida. C. Mesters.
  • Galilea Año 30th Historia de un conflicto. Carlos Bravo sj
  • El sueño del Pueblo de Dios. Las comunidades y el movimiento apocalíptico. Equipo Tu Palabra Vida it.
  • Camino del Pueblo y Memoria de la Biblia. 19 pasos para recorrer el de la escritura itinerario globally.
  • En la escuela de ... encuentros para chicos Biblia. Alejandra Magliano.
  • Huella de promesantes. El Libro de los Salmos. F. Cisterna
  • Vocabulario hebreo / español - español / hebreo. Herramienta para el estudio Biblic. Abel Miraglia.

Series "Cercanía".

  • Booklets with Bible subjects, 25 titles with brief readings.

Series "Para conocer ..."

  • El Evangelio de Mateo. La Justicia del Reino. F. Cisterna.
  • El Evangelio de Lucas. Jesús, centro de la historia. F. Cisterna
  • El Evangelio de Juan. El amor más fuerte que la muerte it. Susana, Chiara.

Process of training in Bible correspondence course. Creciendo desde nuestro lugar en la Palabra.

A program of collective Bible study about the whole word of God, which considers times and circumstances of each group meeting and provides an individual guidance by a team of Bible experts. It goes through 13 stages with 19 study booklets altogether.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

In our opinion the training of the Bible correspondence course is the most important service, which offers a comprehensive study of all the scriptures on specialization level and reaches very different and remote places around the country. Also, the training process, which we personally support in certain parishes, is of particular importance.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

The evaluation of tasks that we perceive from various instances: general meetings, usually every year with all staff members of the Centro and monthly meetings with people who have more to do with our everyday work.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

Most important developments at present:

  • Process of Bible training and assisting parishes in the city of Buenos Aires, in the metropolitan area and in the inland of Buenos Aires.
  • Process of Bible training in distance learning.
  • "Internal" training of members, consultants and volunteers at the Centro. Attending courses in Argentina and abroad.
  • Publications: proofreading, reprints and new material. On popular level and in the service of parishes.
  • Guidance of religious communities.

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

Some of the difficulties we face at the Centro:

  • Specific training for our work and our horizon. It is not easy to reckon on Bible professionals who work with the method lectura popular, but with the scientific quality that must be at the level of the parishes. Therefore, the effort for the training processes of the members in the Centro has priority.
  • The system of voluntary endows us with the spirit of "gratitude", but nevertheless it is a challenge that we constantly reconsider. We think that a certain financial support for the vocational training of persons, who work in the "animation" and management, is necessary.
  • On the one hand the option to be a "non profit association" is a legal-institutional context and a way to have freedom at the work in church's ministry. On the other hand, the fact that we are not affiliated with a diocese or a parish challenges us to use networks to organize our work.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

The challenges:

  • To build up a working method, that gives our work beyond Buenos Aires a better and less centralized organisation. Our intention and purpose is to create "small" offices in places where people and communities have completed their training processes and can assume the guidance of communities/parishes. To develop a work in networking.
  • On the other hand, we are in the process to renew the publications so that through this way our service in the community remains useful.
  • Due to the deepen studies, which are offered by the training process of the Bible correspondence course, it is a specialization process, which concerns the whole Scripture. It requires at least two to three years of study. The current challenge is to develop a "customized material" that serves a different kind of need: those who need a training program in distance learning but prefer shorter and easier programs.

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

Our dream is to continue to be an open house for the reading and deepening of the Word of God, with a clear option for the impoverished. Our dream is to be a space for "empowerment" in Bible study for lay people in the parishes, an area that offers efficient, deep and liberating training processes. Certainly we dream of a history following the example of the people in the Bible.

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

The formation of the laity is the most important task of our Centro. How this happens, we hope to have shown in the answers already given. It is important to mention that the Centro was founded and is headed by a woman: a lay person, married, mother of three children and already grandmother.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

The communication of experiences and results is done through:

  • Messages after the general meetings of members (including those who do not live in Buenos Aires, but work in Centros in the interior).
  • Provision of materials for meetings (bible groups) that become specific pastoral support for the Bible study.
  • Through specific contacts and relationships.
  • Due to the specific character of the office, a house that is open to all and a reference point for institutions, dioceses and religious communities, which experience it as their own home and "use" it as a room for meetings, conventions, studies and preparation of material.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

The cooperation with the individual churches is done precisely through the religious life, especially the religious life in small groups in popular environment (vida inserta), with which we have been working since the establishment of the Centro as such. On the other hand, the coordinator of the Centro, Mrs. Virginia Betancur participated in the recent Synod on the Word of God in order to accompany and to listen to the specific contributions of the local bishops in the moment of reflection. Although this is only a very specific event, it shows clearly the nature of cooperation.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level? And what linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

At national level the network on which our work participates is the Episcopal Commission of Bible Pastoral (Comisión Episcopal de Pastoral Bíblica). Our connection with the Diocese of Merlo Moreno and with Mons. Fernando María Bargalló canalises this participation. At international level, the FEBIC is our reference organization. Since we are an ecumenical Bible Centre the membership of our association in these instances is only a connection without legal effect. That means that we are in a mutual exchange of intentions and work without having a recognized membership or any comparable status.

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions? And what kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

The instance of both the interreligious cooperation (with non-Christian religions) as well as the ecumenical (with non-Catholic churches) is realized in our Centro through contacts with MEDH (Movimiento Ecuménico por los Derechos Humanos, ecumenical human rights movement). The work at the Centro has always been proceeded from the principle of promotion and option for the most impoverished. The "friendship" with the MEDH and the common lines, horizons, meetings - they use our office for their work sessions - enables the participation on this type of cooperation. The particular cooperation in the interreligious field is still a challenge that must be deepened.

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

The CBE (Centro Biblico Ecuménico) is currently linked to the following theological associations:

  • CEBI (Centro de Estudos Bíblicos) in Brazil.
  • Centro Bíblico Verbo (Bible Study Center SVD) in Brazil.
  • MEDH (Movimiento Ecuménico por los Derechos Humanos, Ecumenical Human Rights Movement).
  • Centro NUEVA TIERRA (Center New Earth, in the service of popular organizations and groups in Argentina with a network of social and pastoral workers, it promotes connections and mediations in the revival of the popular sector).
  • Bible room palabras con MIEL (words with honey; Director: María Gloria Ladislao).
  • ISEDET (Instituto Superior Evangélico de Estudios Teológicos).
  • Facultad de Teología de la Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA).

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

We believe that the support you can grant us (beyond that you have already given us) concerns the exchange within or outside our continent:

  • Provide us with networking and information links on the work. Socialization of information.
  • Mutual link.
  • Offer promotion for training courses or instances which improve our work.
  • Offer participation on continental or worldwide exchange instances in the area of existing opportunities.

  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.