"Bishops, in attempt to cut expenses, do not encourage people to read the Bible"

"Bishops, in attempt to cut expenses, do not encourage people to read the Bible"
That's the headline feared by Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan of Brooklyn, New York, after the Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 137-102 to table plans for a statement urging Catholics to read their Bibles. Actually, the story may be worse than that.

The Boston Globe explains that the pastoral statement was "shelved" to "restrain spending and cut down on a crush of publications [the bishops] fear have little impact."

The Washington Times likewise summarizes bishops complaints that they are "burdened with multiple documents and expensive projects and … agreed Monday to reduce their workload."

Catholic News Service says the finance reason doesn't quite make sense on its own: "Task force chairman Bishop William B. Friend of Shreveport, Louisiana, noted in introducing the proposal that funding would be sought from outside sources to pay the costs of developing the pastoral statement. Sales of the publication would be expected to cover the costs of printing it."

Instead the cost factor is secondary. The bishops on Monday adopted new rules for considering such projects, and it's the financial and managerial cost of new projects in general that the bishops were concerned about.

But there may be more at work than that. Certainly, some bishops were concerned about both the program and the signal that tabling it might mean. Bishop John W. Yanta, of Amarillo, Texas, said, "Coming from a mission diocese, and also from the Bible Belt, I think it would be disastrous for us to vote against this, and I think it would be detrimental. The Word of God is essential to evangelization." ...

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Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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