Monday, October 10, 2005

Catholic Church No Longer Swears By Truth Of The Bible

The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

From Ruth Gledhill, Religon Correspondent for The Times comes this article (excerpted below):

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect total accuracy from the Bible.

"We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision," they say in The Gift of Scripture. The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin's theory of evolution in schools, believing 'intelligent design' to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country's Catholic bishops insist cannot be 'historical'. At most, they say, they may contain 'historical traces'.

The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical analyzing of ancient literature critical to the Bible.

As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing.

The bishops say: "Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally."

Read the full article HERE.

Art by Gustave Doré