Bible Survey Will Inform Synod
During an April 28 Vatican press conference, the Catholic Biblical Federation presented preliminary results of a massive survey the organization is conducting in preparation for next October’s International Synod on the Word. Results are based on telephone interviews conducted last November with 13,000 adults from nine countries: the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Russia. Subjects were drawn from the entire population of each country.
Interestingly, the United States had the largest percentage of Bible readers. In response to the question, “In the past 12 months have you read any passage from the Bible?” 75 percent of U.S. adults said “yes,” far more than their European counterparts, who varied from a high of 38 percent in Poland to a low of 20 percent in Spain.
When asked to describe the Bible, the most popular answer in every country except Germany was, “The Bible is the inspired word of God, but not everything in the Bible should be taken literally, word for word.” In Germany, 42 percent said, “The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while 40 percent of Germans chose the phrase “The Bible is inspired word of God...”.
On average, fewer than 10 percent believed that the Bible contains texts directly revealed by God that should be interpreted literally and word-for-word. These “literally word-for-word” respondents were described as “fundamentalist” by the survey’s director, Professor Luca Diotalellevi. Poland had the highest percentage of fundamentalist respondents at 34 percent with the United States and Italy at 27 and 23 percent respectively.
In coming months, researchers plan to expand the study to the Southern hemisphere, including Australia, the Philippines, South Africa and Argentina.
Other Synod Topics
Also at the press conference, Synod Special Secretary Msgr. Wilhelm Egger said that the synod would address doctrinal issues of interpretation and the role of the Church, as well as pastoral problems.
(From The Tablet 5/3/08 and Catholic News Service 5/2/08)