Catholics Don't Read Their Bibles!

…So says a Commision of Catholic biblical experts:

**Experts say Catholics still don’t read Bible regularly

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service**

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – While it may be a best-seller, the Bible still is not regularly read, nor has it become an integral part of many Catholics’ lives, said a panel of biblical experts.

“Unfortunately, it must be said, there is still little Bible in the lives of the faithful,” said Italian Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Catholic Bible Federation.

See the whole article:

catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0505102.htm

What are you doing to try and help reverse the trend? I know what I’m doing:

I must admit I have been married for five years now, and my home (with three children) still does not have a ‘family bible’. We have the new testament, we have several ‘children’s bible’ (my kids are still young), but we do not have a full Catholic bible in our home.

I do however, plan to correct this within the next little while. I have been shopping for a bible now for several weeks, just can’t seem to find the right one.

Although I have not regularly read the bible, I do read regurlarly, and on several subjects pertaining to religion; that must count for something?

I read the CCC two or three times a week on average nowadays (stuck in several arguemnts that the CCC proves very helpful and insightful), and I have read almost the entire psalms and the entire apocalypse (read it in 1999, I was so disapointed when the end of the world didn’t come with the year 2000!).

Anyways, looking to have a bible soon, and will be reading regurlarly (I hope) soon as well.

God bless…

I’d be curious to know how this survey was conducted.

[quote=Fidelis]…So says a Commision of Catholic biblical experts:
See the whole article:catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0505102.htm

What are you doing to try and help reverse the trend? I know what I’m doing:
[/quote]

I think this is regrettably true. I know that it was historically true in my mother’s family. My grandparents were devout Catholics but uneducated formally (Grandpa had a 6th grade education and Grandma an 8th grade education. This was a common occurence for many rural farm families early in the last century. There aversion to reading the Bible was a fear they would misinterpret it and considered it a potential means for them to be misled. Upon reflection, I think their problem was their better educated Protestant neighbors/“friends” were quick to use the Bible as a weapon against their faith adn their lack of formal education made them intimidated to defend the faith on grounds they felt they were ill-prepared.

Grandpa, as a near daily communicant late in his life, believed that the average layperson should only read the Bible in the context of the Mass as it was followed up by interpretation by a valid teaching authority (a theology-trained Priest). I think that much of the aversion in many of our Catholic families is a residual to this environment. However, now that all of his 20 grandchildren are college-educated, I hope he looks down from Heaven and is pleased that most of us are confident enough to read the Bible. But in his dedication to proper interpretation, I’m sure his prayers for us include that we make the right interpretations!

I know taht this still impacts my Mom from the signals she gave me when she found out that I am sometimes a teacher in our RCIA program. Old habits die hard.

I must admit I have been married for five years now, and my home (with three children) still does not have a ‘family bible’.

Maybe you want to save up for a Bible like this:
newadvent.catholiccompany.com/product_detail.cfm?ID=1857

[quote=Orionthehunter]I think this is regrettably true. I know that it was historically true in my mother’s family. My grandparents were devout Catholics but uneducated formally (Grandpa had a 6th grade education and Grandma an 8th grade education. This was a common occurence for many rural farm families early in the last century. There aversion to reading the Bible was a fear they would misinterpret it and considered it a potential means for them to be misled. Upon reflection, I think their problem was their better educated Protestant neighbors/“friends” were quick to use the Bible as a weapon against their faith adn their lack of formal education made them intimidated to defend the faith on grounds they felt they were ill-prepared.

Grandpa, as a near daily communicant late in his life, believed that the average layperson should only read the Bible in the context of the Mass as it was followed up by interpretation by a valid teaching authority (a theology-trained Priest). I think that much of the aversion in many of our Catholic families is a residual to this environment. However, now that all of his 20 grandchildren are college-educated, I hope he looks down from Heaven and is pleased that most of us are confident enough to read the Bible. But in his dedication to proper interpretation, I’m sure his prayers for us include that we make the right interpretations!

I know taht this still impacts my Mom from the signals she gave me when she found out that I am sometimes a teacher in our RCIA program. Old habits die hard.
[/quote]

I can see how this would be true for the older generation, but for people our age (I see you’re three years younger than me) and younger, there isn’t much excuse except, as far as I can tell, laziness on our part, and a lack of commitment in the Catholic catechesis community --clerical and lay–as a whole to stress the value of the Scriptures to the average Catholic (there are, of course, exceptions). It’s part of a vicious circle – we haven’t learned the Scriptures because Protestants beat us up over our lack of knowledge of them, then we get beat up by Protestants because we haven’t learned the Scriptures! :rolleyes:

It’s been 45 years since Dei Verbum, for goodness sake! How long does it take?

What’s interesting is the research/survey was conducted in, historically, the 3 biggest Catholic nations in Europe (in the world?). What is curious to me is how much of this lack of bible reading in these 3 countries is due to “old Catholic beliefs” on bible reading vs. the secularization of Europe? Catholics as a whole are likely not as likely to read the bible as your typical protestant; however, I wouldn’t say this makes Catholics less devout than protestants. With sola scriptura as one of the centerpieces of protestant beliefs, it only makes sense that they would be naturally more inclined to read their bibles more.

What would be more interesting is to compare bible reading among Catholics/Orthodox, Reformation based churches, mainline Baptist and the Evangelicals/Fundamentalists in different geographical locations. I would wager that U.S. Catholics are likely to be more inclined to read the bible vs. our European counterparts. Two potential reasons I give for opinion is 1) The U.S. is not as “secularized” as Europe and 2) Catholics in the U.S. probably feel more pressure to read their bibles in order to defend the faith against fundies.

And finally, I would be curios to see if fundies/evangelicals are more into their bible reading than the mainline protestant reformation based churches.

I would wager that U.S. Catholics are likely to be more inclined to read the bible vs. our European counterparts. Two potential reasons I give for opinion is 1) The U.S. is not as “secularized” as Europe and 2) Catholics in the U.S. probably feel more pressure to read their bibles in order to defend the faith against fundies.

That’s a good point and I would tend to agree with this. By all reports, the US is a much more religious place, overall, than Europe.

[quote=Fidelis]…So says a Commision of Catholic biblical experts:

See the whole article:

catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0505102.htm

What are you doing to try and help reverse the trend? I know what I’m doing:
[/quote]

I’m in my early 40s, and growing up, going to CCD, we hardly touched a Bible. The most scripture I got was at Mass, and I started becoming more familiar with some of the verses (they repeat in a 3 year cycle).

I just recently enrolled my sons to our parish’s Confirmation preparation class, and the first textbook they issued was…(da-da-da-dah!) - the NAB Catholic Youth Bible! The head of the program told the kids during orientation that this Bible was going to be their text for the next 2 years for preparation. Bring it with you every time you go to class!!!

Maybe the tide on the non-Bible-reading Catholic is turning!!! :thumbsup:

[quote=MVH]What’s interesting is the research/survey was conducted in, historically, the 3 biggest Catholic nations in Europe (in the world?).
[/quote]

Don’t forget the South and Central Americans: Brazil is majority Catholic.

Catholics as a whole are likely not as likely to read the bible as your typical protestant; however, I wouldn’t say this makes Catholics less devout than protestants. With sola scriptura as one of the centerpieces of protestant beliefs, it only makes sense that they would be naturally more inclined to read their bibles more.

While this is most probably true, I think it might be useful to consider “quality” of reading at this point. For all that the ‘sola scriptura’ idea is promoted by and within Protestant churches, many individual Protestants lack the motivation to acquire the knowledge to read the text in a more-than-superficial manner. As a result, they rely upon reading guides produced by ‘great men’, usually pastors of large churches (because popularity must demonstrate worth, mustn’t it?). Thus, their reading is so heavily inflected by other people’s ideas as to render to the ‘sola’ false. This is not true of all Protestants, but it is true of too many.

Catholics in the U.S. probably feel more pressure to read their bibles in order to defend the faith against fundies.

Identity by opposition: a powerful motivator.

And finally, I would be curious to see if fundies/evangelicals are more into their bible reading than the mainline protestant reformation based churches.

On average, they are. On average, evangelicals, who can be found within both mainstream and pentecostal churches, are more into everything. Unfortunately, they are often less resistant to the ‘great men’, hence the common occurrence of the pentecostal church which grows rapidly under a charismatic leader, only to collapse when he falls from grace.

[quote=Fidelis]…So says a Commision of Catholic biblical experts:
[/quote]

Judging by what I see in these fora, I would have to agree that there is a general trend, among Catholics, of not reading the Bible enough. For Protestants, it is the only official text, and so they tend to read it more. Catholics have the advantage of a larger corpus of texts, but few take that advantage.

I would like to say, also, that I have noticed certain trends in the patterns of reading which I have encountered here. Many of the Protestants here tend to read very narrowly. While only a minority of Catholics make the effort, of those who do, many read the Book in a better way, because they take a broader and more flexible view, allowing the text to speak for itself without demanding that it shall conform to their prejudices.

Yall talk as though the Bible being the only text for protestants is a bad thing. It came directly from God did it not? I know Catholics put a lot of weight on the Catechism as well as the Bible, but you never want the Catechism to usurp the Bible (which I know yall don’t do; I’m just trying to make a point). After all, the Catechism was created by man, whereas the Bible was given to us by God.

“Many of the Protestants here tend to read very narrowly. While only a minority of Catholics make the effort, of those who do, many read the Book in a better way, because they take a broader and more flexible view, allowing the text to speak for itself without demanding that it shall conform to their prejudices.” (Sorry, I can’t find the quote key)

Well fine if that is your opinion. But protestants could say the exact same thing about Catholics. And I am not trying to be haughty or mean, but I seriously would like to know what prejudices you think protestants have, so I can better understand. Thanks for listening! :slight_smile:

I just reread my post on this thread, and boy did some of my writing look atrocious!

Anyways…

**jdc1084: ** Well fine if that is your opinion. But protestants could say the exact same thing about Catholics. And I am not trying to be haughty or mean, but I seriously would like to know what prejudices you think protestants have, so I can better understand. Thanks for listening!

It depends on how you define the group “Protestant”. If you are referring to the original reformation churches, I believe we get along pretty well today. However, if you are referring to Baptists and other collections of people known as the evangelicals and/or fundamentalists, you see a pretty big continuum of opinions on Catholics. These will range from tolerance/respect to “great whore of babylon” labels for our church. My experience is that slander against Catholics, in today’s world, come from the smaller, non-denom fundamentalists primarily. Examples of Catholic prejudice can be found at our “friends” Cutting Edge Ministries and Jack T. Chick to name but a few. Google them if you like, but all you will find are straw men labeled as “Catholic Doctrine/Beliefs”. In other words, you will not find what Catholocism is really about. To do that, you should visit such sites as Catholic Answers, USCCB, Holy See, and others.

Welcome to the forums!

[quote=Crow]I must admit I have been married for five years now, and my home (with three children) still does not have a ‘family bible’. We have the new testament, we have several ‘children’s bible’ (my kids are still young), but we do not have a full Catholic bible in our home.
[/quote]

Hi,

There’s lots of good Catholic Bibles to choose from. For a small list:

The New Jerusalem Bible
The RSV-CE (Ignatius Bible)
The New American Bible
The Douay-Rheims edited by Archbishop Richard Challoner (the norm for over four hundred years and the first English translation to comply with all Catholic doctrine and published before the KJV)

and there is a few others. I thought I would just give you a list to start with… Also, the Catholic Answers Bible (NAB, I think…) sold from catholic.com and published by Our Sunday Visitor is pretty good, too…

Check out ignatius.com, oursundayvisitor.com & getfed.com.

Great Catholic stores.

God bless,

[quote=jdc1084]I seriously would like to know what prejudices you think protestants have, so I can better understand.
[/quote]

First of all, let me apologise for allowing you to think that I meant that only Protestants are prejudiced. Everyone has prejudices: they come from our preconceptions, without which we would be incapable of psychological functioning in the world. Preconceptions allow us to make assumptions about the data which we encounter in our everyday lives, freeing us from the necessity of reprocessing every new piece of information. Your understanding of these very words depends upon your preconceptions of their meaning.

One problem which this presents for reading is the fact that, when we are deciding which parts of the Bible are meant to be symbolic and which parts are meant to be literal, we use those preconceptions. The Protestants tend to read alone, and to draw upon only their own narrow experience and preconceptions. The Catholics have the advantage of drawing upon two thousand years of Biblical scholarship, most of which is ignored by most Protestants. Of course, the Catholics can also face the disadvantage of believing too much in what the experts tell them - the preconception that the official interpretation is always right.

Here in these fora, I have met a few Catholic readers who do not cling so tightly to their preconceptions, and thus avoid turning them into prejudices.

I read the Bible! Not as often as I should, of course. And it takes me a long time to read just a little, I make sure I understand every word (which I usually don’t). There is always a lot of controversy over what words mean in the Bible.

If you have access to this forum, you have access to the Bible!
vatican.va/archive/bible/index.htm

[quote=Fidelis] What are you doing to try and help reverse the trend?
[/quote]

I’ve tried to get my pastor to start a scripture reading and discussion group in the parish and he is totally against it.

This is especially ironic. There’s always a twist with irony and here it is. He regularly solicits money for the annual CSA collection. This money is being used, in part, to bring Bible reading to the parishes.

He especially resists me because I don’t go along with the type of historical critical exegesis that he favors. I suspect that his opposition to the local study is based on that viewpoint as well.

I think this situation is repeated over and over, and is responsible to a considerable extent for the opposition to Bible study.

I know the USCCB worries about inroads in converting Catholics away from the faith by protestant evangelicals and other fundamentalists. I heard one bishop speak out on the basis of his fear of Catholics becoming fundamentalists. That fear is primary, because the Church does not approve fundamentalism, and it is overwhelming popular among the clergy because of the bias towards h.c. exegesis.

There is also a reluctance among clergy who themselves claim not to be experts on Bible study. So, in other words, there’s a lot of foot dragging.

I’m not aware of any parish in the various dioceses that I’ve lived in that really utilized Sundays, particularly Sunday afternoon for child and/or adult education. (And, no I don’t consider myself crazy for suggesting that.)

And, you’d think in the first place, that the Catholic Church would be the BEST place to read and understand the Bible !!

The truth is the Bible is the hardest book to read of all time. How many people in history have read the whole Bible before? I would guess most who have were/are in religious life.

The mentality of just me and my Bible was never in the game plan of Sacred Scripture. It was mostly to be read at sacred gatherings (eg Mass, synagogue) read out loud with leaders guiding the people through it.

The main difference nowdays in places like Europe and North America is that most people own a copy AND can read it, but even that has its limits. How many people (protestant and catholic) have actually done much reading? In most other parts of the world people usually dont have a personal copy, and their reading skills are probably low. But guess what, owning and reading the Bible is not required for salvation.

The thing that usually happens nowdays is protestants come at catholics with a few verses in mind and make the catholics look bad, but the truth is most of those protestants havnt even read the Bible, or did so with a strong bias so that they missed or ignored key passages. I have said this before, even the so called “reformers” didnt want everyone reading the Bible and interpreting it for themself, they were the ones in charge and wanted to keep it that way, they were just as concerned about “distortions” as Catholics have always been.

Im not saying people shouldnt read the Bible, but what I am saying is that there is a difference between reading a few verses that support your views and reading the whole Bible and taking into consideration context and historical interpretations.

As some have said some protestants who accuse catholics of “blindly” following the Church’s interpretation at the same time those protestants look ONLY to commentaries by people like Calvin without second thought of his agenda or basic reasoning skills of his “interpretations”.

That is depressingly true… All my Catholic friends, from the lukewarm to the traditional do not read their bibles. My own brothers go to PREP school and have received their bibles, but none of them have a will to even crack open a page at home except when told to study it.

Will there ever be an organisation like Gideons International to distribute Catholic New Testaments, so that every Catholic could take home a bible? Instead of reading a NASB or my French version, the Louis Segond, I imagine rather New Testaments of the NAB or RSV-CE, or even the DRV to sustain tradition…

The bible is a GIFT to me, and after reading this thread, I realise how much many Catholics are missing out this treasure, this great Pearl that God has given to us.

God bless, and Joshua 1:9! :smiley:

"The truth is the Bible is the hardest book to read of all time. How many people in history have read the whole Bible before? I would guess most who have were/are in religious life.

Im not saying people shouldnt read the Bible, but what I am saying is that there is a difference between reading a few verses that support your views and reading the whole Bible"

I had to smile when I read this thread, esp. the above post. The Bible is so easy to read a child can do it! And most people I knew as protestants read the entire Bible repeatedly. Even teenagers can follow reading plans that take you through the Bible in one year. : )

Or you can follow another good reading method. Pick a book (shorter is good!) and read it 10 - 12 times IN A ROW. In one sitting, if possible. By the 8th or 9th time, you’ll start seeing the connections you missed before. You’ll see the context. Esp good with Paul’s writings. He loves to interrupt himself! You’ll suddenly see what all the “therefore’s” and “for this reason’s” are actually connected to!

For background I was raised mostly protestant but now Catholic. I recieved my first LEATHER bound Living Bible for my birthday before I knew how to read. (The leather was a BIG deal! A real GROWN UP Bible!!) I couldn’t wait to read it!! I slept with it under my pillow until school started. : )

By the time I was out of first grade, I was reading complete gospels on my own. My non-denominational school had monthly memorization of around 10 verses a month for the little kids. By the time you reached High School, you were memorizing whole chapters. I and others I know have memorized complete books.

King James was the required school version, but I owned several others as well. NIV, Living, Amplified, NAS, New King James, and others. These were not family bibles. These were my personal bibles. My family members had their own. I spent a great deal of time comparing versions while I read.

It was very common to read through the entire Bible each year, plus extra. That was considered NORMAL devotional reading. The minimum. If you weren’t reading Scripture at least 1/2 hour daily, (twice daily was even better!) you were considered seriously backslidden by most protestants I know. : )

By the way, parents, if you want your children to love the Bible, you need to love it yourself. Let them see you reading it ~ often. Give them their own Bible. Make a BIG deal about how special it is, even before they can read it themselves. If you can afford it, give nice leather bibles for junior high and high school graduation presents. Before hand, challenge them to try out paperback versions to see which version they prefer to read.

One of my earliest memories is of my mom standing by the dishwasher reading the Our Father to me out of my new leather Bible. She even underlined it, so I could see exactly where she had read. And I was so excited at the thought of someday learning to read it for myself!

I thank God I had parents like mine. All those years of scripture soaked into me. Now it’s like a treasure trove. When I listen to EWTN, or read the Catechism, I get floods of remembered verses coming to my mind. I can see connections I never noticed before.
It’s so easy now to see how everything fits together into the Truth.

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