Why is there such a disconnect between Catholics and Bible -reading?


I don’t know if it’s some conspiracy by Protestants to put catholics down on the internet about how Catholics don’t believe in the Bible and how they don’t consider Bible-reading to be important?

What is going on?

But I can’t help thinking it’s partially true:
Even when speaking to catholics I know, they will tell me about catechism type rules, but they don’t sound spiritual in how they explain it e.g. They don’t mention how it relates to scripture, they just expound it like a rule, and not like a personalized belief. They say something like ‘You’re not supposed to such and such’ and ‘You’re supposed to go to confession’ etc. Like I can’t imagine having a conversation with a catholic about the life of Jesus or his teachings, because I suspect they either don’t believe it or haven’t read about it for themselves.


The best way I can explain it with impartiality:

The Bible has been so absorbed into the Church’s teachings that, when speaking about this or that bit from the catechism, or this or that part of ___ document, you are automatically speaking about and from the Bible. The teachings of the Church and the Bible itself are, in a poetic sort of sense, the same thing. It is easier to just say this or that bit from the catechism than set up a whole theological treatise with Biblical premises and reasoning. The truths presented in the catechism are so squeaky clean that it can perhaps seem a bit impersonal and cold, but the Catechism teaches in prose what the Bible says in poetry.


If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. So why would a fish market teach people to fish?


The Catholic Church gives people fish for as long as they want, and also teaches them to fish whenever they are ready.

How apt that you use the analogy of fishing, for the barque of St Peter!

This! I would add that the Catechism also ensures that what I read in one part the Bible is consistent with the the rest of the Bible. For instance, I can’t read Romans 10:9-10 and presume, in my own opinion, that because I believe now I will always be saved (“assurance of salvation”).


That’s quite the negative outlook you have there; and a horrifically mistaken one, I might add. The priest at my church encourages daily Bible reading, and makes sure to point out the group Bible study almost every week.

It’s not that it’s not suggested, it’s just that a lot of people don’t do it. I know that I am only just now starting to.


This is not meant sarcastically or disrespectfully, but most Catholics have been taught, by word or action, that the only thing they have to do to stay in good standing with the church is to attend Mass on Sunday to meet a legalistic requirement. Doesn’t really create a fulfilling relationship.


We Catholics believe as Christ taught, the Church is His Bride. Protestants do not know the Bible better than Catholics. They usually just have memorizing passages ingrained into their minds. Not that that is a bad thing. Far from it. But reciting passages is not the same thing as knowing them. If a protestant understood Christ and His will, they would become Catholic. Look at Dr. Scott Hahn. The truth of the matter is that the Catholic Church gets all the best protestants, and protestantism gets all the worst Catholics. Think about it.


All of this is true, but the written word of God is so much more than a poetic version of the Catechism. Scripture is living. Scripture has power to convert and change lives. It is a well to draw from which the Catechism will never be, nor was it intended to be. The Catechism itself was intended to be read in the context of the Bible. The Catechism’s foundation is the Bible, and one who reads the Catechism should always have a Bible nearby.

Scripture however, stands on its own. It is disinct from all the other documents of the Church - a love letter from God to you personally, and there is no excuse for a Catholic who does not make written word of God part of his life in the year 2013. We are all going to stand before Jesus in judgment and claiming ignorance is not going to be an option. Christ is going to say, “Did you not read my written word? It was free on the internet, was it not?”

Sadly, what the OP opines is true. Living the life of Christ means undersanding the life of Christ, and we find out about the life of Christ primarily in the Gospels. A thourough undersanding of the Gospels is impossible without a rudimentary understanding of the Old Testament, and few make the effort to understand it.

Conversing with God in prayer, studying and meditating on the written word of God in the Scriptures, worshipping God at Mass and encountering God in the sacraments - these are the four pillars of the integrated Christian life. All four are vital for growing in the virtues, growing toward perfection. When we are missing one of these, our growth will be lacking.

I’m not talking about quoting chapter and verse. I’m talking about encountering Christ in his written word.



If the Catechism has everything you need, and there isn’t much room for interpretation, then why bother with the Bible?

In any classroom, most students will do the least work required. The Bible may provide further elucidation but most will not take advantage of that.

Plus, if people read the Bible they would start thinking for themselves, and I don’t think the Church likes that idea much. In fact, if the Church is the only way to salvation then it makes perfect sense to want to preserve people in their ignorance. If you stay ignorant, you have salvation. If you start thinking, then you are risking your soul. I hate to put it in such a jaded way, but isn’t that accurate?


There is a fair amount of truth in this. Especially among Cradle Catholics.
Of course I think that one can find a fair amount to this in the Protestant Churches as well. They figure that as long as they are baptized and maybe go to church occasionally and don’t kill anybody they are in good shape.

To the OP…There are so many people of all Christian stripes who have little more than a perfunctory understanding of their faith whether they read the bible or not.
As someone said above, there are protestants who have certain passages memorized and they have a structure that they have been taught by their minister…but that does not equal a deep understanding of Scripture.

I’ve repeatedly heard former Protestant ministers who converted to Catholicism talk about how they would avoid certain verses and passages in Scripture because they just didn’t know what to do with it.

So - yes, Catholics need to read Scripture more…but I don’t think that we are all that “uninformed” on what the bible contains.



Not to blame this on the church, but I think a lot of it has to do with that people related more to the Saints. Nothing wrong with this at all, but sometimes I think veneration of Saints sometimes ventured into folk religion (suchas burying a St. Joseph Statue to sell your house. things of that nature). Also, I think back in the day there was more of an emphasis on going to mass and praying rote prayers than reading scripture. Once again not that this was wrong or bad, just different.


I used to think that when I was a Protestant, but when I became a Catholic I learned otherwise. Catholics hear more Scripture in one Mass than many Protestants read in a week. Our priests and deacons preach homilies based on the Scripture readings for that Sunday which includes two readings and a reading from one of the Gospels. All our sacraments are derived from the Bible and are used in all our rites and liturgies. Indeed, the Bible was compiled so that the whole Church would be reading the same readings from the same books for our liturgies.

It is easy to pick at others seeming lack of this or that, it is another to be a part of a community of believers and see how they put into practice what they hear, read, meditate, pray and act upon as Christian believers. Sure, we have those who only come on Sundays and days of obligation because they “have to”–better they come than sit in front of the tube at home. But there are many who are dedicated to Christ and are eager to learn from Scripture and put into practice what they read.


No, it is not accurate, nor is it factual.

The Church does not desire its members to remain ignorant. Pope Benedict XVI didn’t write “Jesus of Nazereth” so that individual Christians could remain ignorant.

The Church encourages reading and study of scripture. That is fact.



We read the love letter from God everyday in our daily readings and through the Liturgy of the Hours with Catholics around the world. It is really amazing when you think about the solidarity we have in our biblical reading. I don’t think there is anything close to that incredible communion with our Catholic brethren. We also have the Bible proclaimed at every Mass and massgoers go through almost the whole bible every 3 years. At my age, I have heard virtually the whole bible proclaimed many, many times. I also read it on my own and participate in Bible studies at my parish. In fact, I’m leading one now on the Gospel of Luke (with Reasons for our Hope with then Rosalind Moss, now Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God). She mentioned in one of her talks that Catholics are steeped in in the tradition of the ancient Christians of an oral tradition of hearing and spreading the Gospel. I thank God for the deep connection we as Catholics have to the Word of God as well as the many other gifts He gave us when He established His Church.


exactly! Bishop after Bishop have encouraged Catholics to read the Bible for themselves.
Daily scripture verses are publishes in parish bulletins for that exact purpose.


Don’t forget the responsesorial Psalms


One of my joys is to pray Morning and Evening Prayer each day, which is the Prayer of the Church. When doing so I read 7 Psalms and two readings from the Bible. As catholicmom2010 mentions, we can read the daily Mass readings, as well–something I also do. I have to wonder how many of our Protestant brethren read that much Scripture on a daily basis?

Another thing I want to point out is that the faith of Christ isn’t just for those who can read and understand Scripture. It’s for the little child still in his mother’s arms and the mentally impaired and the senile, and those unable to know or understand anything. This is why Christ gave us the sacraments that need no deep scholarship in order to be one of his own. It is baptism that initiates us into Christ and his Church, not Bible reading, as good as it is. I think we need to keep this in mind before we begin to think that only those who can read are eligible for the Kingdom of Heaven.


Cannot resist “quoting the Catechism” here :slight_smile:

“And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life.”

“Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too - pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place - is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture.”

The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”


[quote="Tommm, post:3, topic:317485"]
If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. So why would a fish market teach people to fish?


I have never met a Protestant who gave someone a Bible and allowed them to interpret it for themselves. For one thing, reading the Bible can turn you into a Catholic if not properly directed. (happened to me!).


People of every faith read the Bible very little because they don’t understand it.
It is either too big; too many books placed together; they don’t know where to start, etc, etc.
Start looking for Jesus wherever you begin to read. He is there in person in the Gospels; He is spoken of in the Epistles and in the Old Testament He is Prophesied in Type and Shadow.
The more you look the easier He is to find.
Try Psalm 22. It tells us of Jesus’ suffering 900 Years before it happens!
God bless all and good reading.

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