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US Bishops defer statement on Catholic approach to Bible

Costcutting has prompted the United States Bishops have put off the release of a pastoral statement on the use of the Bible by Catholics.

The proposed pastoral message would include a theological overview of Catholic teachings on the Bible. It would use research by Georgetown University's Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) about Catholics and the Bible as the basis for instruction on teaching about it and studying it.

The recommendation for the statement came from a task force appointed in August 2003 to review the findings of the CARA study, which was commissioned by the bishops' conference. The task force comprised of five bishops would oversee hiring a writer for the statement, which would be submitted for approval by all the bishops next November.

Task force chairman Bishop William Friend of Shreveport noted in introducing the proposal that funding would be sought from outside sources. But several bishops insisted that it needs to be reviewed by a formal committee.

The new procedures were prompted by concerns raised by bishops in the last few years over how to control costs and the increased number of projects undertaken in their name.

Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Sullivan warned that, if the bishops put aside the pastoral on the Bible, newspaper headlines might announce: "In an attempt to cut expenses, bishops decide not to encourage reading the Bible."

Several bishops rose to support the pastoral statement, arguing that especially in areas with large numbers of evangelicals the Bible is an important part of ecumenical efforts.

Bishops' statement on Bible study sent back for review (Catholic News Service 16/11/04)

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
US Catholic Bishops Join Alliance (The Guardian/Associated Press 17/11/04)
Ad targets bishops during annual meeting (Catholic News Agency 17/11/04)

18 Nov 2004