08 April 2019, The Tablet

Bishops ask Catholics: What does the Bible mean to you?

The Bible: historical documents, words of comfort and inspiration – or mere fiction

Bishops ask Catholics: What does the Bible mean to you?

Catholics in England and Wales are being asked whether they think the Bible is fiction or part of an outdated collection of historical documents in a new a national survey into attitudes toward scripture.

The Bishops’ Conference launched the survey into Catholic attitudes towards the Bible in preparation for an upcoming year dedicated to Scripture, called the God Who Speaks.

As part of the ten question survey asks Catholics which statement best describes the Bible for them. The options are “an outdated collection of historical documents”, “Holy Scriptures revealing God's word to us”, “an authoritative guide to life” or “a collection of ideas and stories”.

Other options are “Words of comfort and inspiration” and “Fiction”.

Catholics are also asked in what context they regularly read or hear the Bible – whether at home, alone or with family, at work, church or school, and how regularly.

They are asked what their strongest motivation for reading the Bible is, with options including “I am looking for direction” and “it helps me to pray”, and what prevents them from reading the Bible.

One section of the survey asks respondents to rank other things that are important to their faith, with options including Mass, care for the environment and telling others about Jesus.

The Year of the God Who Speaks, which is due to launch on 30 September, the feast of St Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin, will begin on 1 December in partnership with the Bible Society.

It coincides with the 10th anniversary of Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation on The Word of the Lord, and the 1600th anniversary of the death of St Jerome.

Responses to the survey will be used to shape the resources and activities that the Bishops’ Conference plans for 2020.

At the end of the Year, in December, Cardinal Nichols will celebrate the achievements of The God Who Speaks and the Bishops will repeat the survey to see how attitudes towards scripture have changed. A report evaluating the campaign will be published in 2021.

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