In preparation for the next gathering of the Catholic bishops around the world, the Catholic Biblical Federation has conducted an extensive survey regarding how the Bible is read in 13 different countries. The survey reports that the U.S. is the one of most Bible-believing nations and the one that is most interested in the Scriptures.
The survey was held to obtain a sense of the influence of the Scriptures to assist the bishops in their October 5-26, 2008 synod on “The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church”.
Thus far, 13,000 interviews have been held in the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, and Russia. According to Vatican analyst Sandro Magister, the results released on April 28 “cover the entirety of the adult population” and the results pertaining solely to Catholics will be published at a later date. Results from Argentina, South Africa, the Philippines, and Australia are still being collated.
In Magister’s view, the results of the survey show that, “the Bible is not present and influential in all countries in the same way. The wave of secularization produces very different effects from region to region. In the United States and in Italy, these effects appear to be more contained than in other countries of Western Europe, among which France emerges as the most de-Christianized nation.”
The Bible is present in many houses in Italy and the U.S., 75% and 93% respectively, but in France less than half of the people have a Bible at home.
However, the only place where the Scriptures have been read in the last year is the United States, which comes in at 75%. Despite high ownership, Italian Bible reading is reported at 27 %, and in Spain the number falls to 20 %.
One result that confirms the need for an initiative that Pope Benedict XVI has been promoting is the feedback on the number of people who pray with the Bible or Lectio Divina, as it is referred to in Church tradition. The numbers are highest in the U.S. (37%) and Poland (32%) but Italy falls to 10 % and Spain to 8%.
Belief in the veracity of the Scriptures was found to be highest in Poland, Russia and the United States (93, 90 and 88 percents respectively).
Bible literacy was found to be high amongst Americans too. Magister reports that “more than a third of the adult population responded correctly that the Gospels are part of the Bible, that Jesus did not write any books, that Moses is a character in the Old Testament, and that Paul and Peter are not the authors of Gospels.”
Interestingly, 27% of Americans adhere to a fundamentalist or literalist interpretation of the Scriptures, but these fundamentalists also show a poorer understanding of the Bible than those who interpret it with a more critical spirit.
Listed below are some of the results of the SKA-Eurisko survey on "The reading of the Scriptures” courtesy of the Vatican observer Sandro Magister at La Repubblica. All results are in percentages.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE CONTENTS OF THE BIBLE ARE TRUE OR FALSE?
UNITED STATES – 88 true 12 false
UNITED KINGDOM – 66 true 34 false
HOLLAND – 59 true 41 false
GERMANY – 72 true 28 false
FRANCE – 62 true 38 false
SPAIN – 67 true 33 false
ITALY – 86 true 14 false
POLAND – 93 true 7 false
RUSSIA – 90 true 10 false
IS IT REAL OR ABSTRACT?
UNITED STATES – 75 real 25 abstract
UNITED KINGDOM – 51 real 49 abstract
HOLLAND – 35 real 64 abstract
GERMANY – 59 real 41 abstract
FRANCE – 36 real 64 abstract
SPAIN – 39 real 61 abstract
ITALY – 64 real 36 abstract
POLAND – 66 real 34 abstract
RUSSIA – 61 real 39 abstract
IS IT INTERESTING OR BORING?
UNITED STATES – 95 interesting 5 boring
UNITED KINGDOM – 75 interesting 25 boring
HOLLAND – 66 interesting 34 boring
GERMANY – 83 interesting 17 boring
FRANCE – 75 interesting 25 boring
SPAIN – 74 interesting 26 boring
ITALY – 86 interesting 14 boring
POLAND – 91 interesting 9 boring
RUSSIA – 81 interesting 19 boring
IS IT EASY OR DIFFICULT?
UNITED STATES – 44 easy 56 difficult
UNITED KINGDOM – 36 easy 64 difficult
HOLLAND – 36 easy 64 difficult
GERMANY – 30 easy 70 difficult
FRANCE – 35 easy 65 difficult
SPAIN – 39 easy 61 difficult
ITALY – 38 easy 62 difficult
POLAND – 32 easy 68 difficult
RUSSIA – 34 easy 66 difficult