Is it wrong for a Catholic not to take the bible literally?

No. The bible should be considered a (divinely inspired) library and read first with an understanding of what kind of book each book is.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that there is much more than a literal understanding to be grasped from Holy Scripture:

According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses.–CCC 115.

The Catholic Church also warns her faithful that we do not accept a literalist approach to Scripture, like that of many Fundamentalist Christians who believe the Bible is literally true about every subject, including science:

We do not look upon the Bible as an authority for science or history. We see truth in the Bible as not to be reduced solely to literal truth, but also to include salvation truths expressed in varied literary forms.–Pastoral Statement For Catholics On Biblical Fundamentalism, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, March 26, 1987.

Catholics read each book of Scripture on its own terms, basing their understanding on the intent of the authors and the type of narrative they employed under divine inspiration.

Here is what the Catechism has to say:


Complicated question because of how vague it is.

The above link is a great resource.

In all things, don’t interpret the Scripture on your own terms-- you’ll especially recognize this if you intentionally draw things out of Scripture to justify something you were ill at ease with. That’s not a guarantee of Scriptural perversion, nor is it the only form… but trust in the Church and maybe look at Haydock’s commentary (simply google it) for help now and then.

If what you’re getting at is: do I have to believe the world was created in six days? That there was a great flood? Etc…? The answer is no… but again seek the aid of the Church.

Remember, “do not seek to understand so that you may believe, but believe so that you may understand”

Here’s a great video by Father Barron on The Bible:

We must take all parts of the bible as truth, and take literally all that is literal. Some places, like the Book of Job or a parable may not be meant literally, but the message is the truth.

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