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Bishops survey Catholics to find personal relevance of the Bible


The questionnaire comes before a year-long celebration of the scriptures.

The British bishops’ conference is surveying Catholics of England and Wales to determine their personal attitudes towards the scriptures. The survey, “The Bible and You,” was put out in preparation for an upcoming year dedicated to the Bible, called The God Who Speaks. The brief, 10-question survey includes whether those surveyed believe the Bible is a reliable source of historical information or a work of fiction.

The Tablet reports that one question asks Catholics to describe what the Bible is to them. Possible answers include: “an outdated collection of historical documents,” “Holy Scriptures revealing God’s word to us,” “an authoritative guide to life” and “a collection of ideas and stories.” Other options are “words of comfort and inspiration” and “fiction.”

Catholics are asked in what context they most usually hear or read the scriptures and how regularly. They are also asked what motivates them to read the Bible, as well as what factors may prevent them from opening the Good Book. In another section of the survey, they are asked to rank the most important aspects of their faith, listing as suggested options the Mass, care for the environment and telling others about Jesus.

Responses to the survey are intended to shape the resources and activities for the bishops’ 2020 conference. They will also influence the celebratory Year of the God Who Speaks, set to launch on September 30, the feast of St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin.

The official start date of the Year of the God Who Speaks is December 1, which is also the 10th anniversary of Verbum Domini — Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation on The Word of the Lord — as well as the 1600th anniversary of the death of St. Jerome.

At the end of the year-long celebration, Cardinal Nichols and the bishops intend to repeat the survey to see if their efforts have instilled a deeper appreciation for the scriptures. A complete report of the entire campaign is expected to be completed in 2021.

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