Record number of Indian Catholics in bible quiz

The annual Bible Quiz in the Indian state of Kerala continues to boom with an astronomical 338,000 Catholics taking part in this year's event.

UCA News reports that the Bible quiz which is traditionally held on the second Sunday in October just keeps gaining in popularity.

This year's event which was the 19th annual quiz drew about 50,000 more people than it did last year. It was held simultaneously in every parish of the southern Indian state's 28 dioceses.

The Kerala Catholic Bible Society, which conducts the written quiz, functions under the Bible Commission of a regional body of bishops of all three rites that form the Indian Catholic Church. The program was held in all 11 Latin, 13 Syro-Malabar and four Syro-Malankara dioceses in the state.

The Latin rite follows the Roman liturgy introduced by European missioners in the 15th century, while the two Oriental rites follow Syrian Church traditions and trace their origins to Saint Thomas the Apostle.

Fr Cyrus Velamparambil, secretary of the Bible Commission, told UCA News that the Logos (word of God) Quiz began in 1988 and has been "a great success," with the number of participants increasing every year.

Several months beforehand, organisers let participants know what portion of the Bible they will need to study. This announcement is made during Bible Week, celebrated 11-17 June this year.

Those taking the quiz are divided into five age groups - 10 and below, 11-15, 16-30, 31-50, above 50 - and the question papers for each group are sent to parishes. The quiz is administered on the specified date, normally after Sunday Mass. Top scorers receive gold medals, shields and trophies.

Fr Velamparambil explained that the multiple-choice questions are written in both English and the local Malayalam language.

Charlie Paul, a Kochi-based lawyer and secretary of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese's pastoral council, told UCA News: "Now more and more youths are taking interest in reading the Bible. It's an indication of youth turning to God and his word."

The Charismatic movement, popular in Kerala the past decade, encourages family Bible reading, according to Fr Velamparambil. "Now more and more people are reading the Bible. It's a good sign. The word of God is reaching more people," he continued, pointing out that the Church has not always encouraged laypeople to read the Bible, for fear of misinterpretation.

According to United Nations data, the state of 31.8 million people is fully literate, but most people read and write in Malayalam. The state has about 6 million Christians, a majority of them Catholics.

Hundreds of thousands take statewide Bible Quiz program (Indian Catholic, 17/10/06)
Massive Response To Kerala Regional Bible Quiz (CBCI News Update, 6/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Bishops' Conference of India

18 Oct 2006