The next general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled for Rome in October, will take on the issue of Catholics reading the Bible through a fundamentalist lens. I thought that most Catholics have avoided this by avoiding reading the Bible altogether, but apparently this is a growing problem.

In preparation for the synod discussion, an 86-page document was prepared and has just been released.

[PewForum] The 86-page document released Thursday emphasizes the need to increase Catholics’ knowledge and understanding of Scripture. While encouraging the faithful to read the Bible either alone or in study groups, it stresses that all interpretation must be in light of church teaching.

“Fundamentalism takes refuge in literalism and refuses to take into consideration the historical dimension of biblical revelation,” the document states.

“This kind of interpretation is winning more and more adherents … even among Catholics,” the agenda’s authors add, quoting an earlier Vatican document. “It demands an unshakable adherence to rigid doctrinal points of view and imposes, as the only source of teaching for Christian life and salvation, a reading of the Bible which rejects all questioning and any kind of critical research.”

Fundamentalism in its “extreme form” exists in “the sects,” the document states.

“Sects” is Vatican speak for the marginal protestant groups. Once you have unhinged yourself from the authority of the Church to interpret the church, anything goes. This type of literalist fundamentalism is just one of the potential outcomes of the rejection of church authority. Eventually, people will replace that legitimate authority with something else. For fundamentalists, that is the Bible. For other “sects”, it is liturgy committees, progressive politics, or environmental fundamentalism. Different symptoms, same disease.