Some non-Catholics think that we blindly follow every statement from the Pope (do those people KNOW any Catholics!), others that everything the Pope says is divinely inspired, still others believe that Catholics are not familiar with the Bible, as they are believed to be forbidden to read it.
Addressed in order:
- NO, we don't all follow the Pope's religious instruction - many, for example, insist on using contraceptives, do not attend Mass regularly, ignore what is said about charity, war, modesty, et al.
- One issue is that once baptized, and unless formally excommunicated, you are considered a Catholic for life. The great majority attend only at Christmas and Easter, and ignore the little bit of doctrine they actually know. Others, like Joy Behar, continue to self-identify as "raised Catholic" - not practicing in decades, disagreeing with everything, and woefully ignorant of just about anything in the actual Catholic church.
- Everything the Pope says is NOT divinely inspired - only those things relating to faith or morals teaching are considered infallible. So, don't take his advice on how to bet on a horse race (no more reliable than any other person). Also, this does NOT mean that the Pope never sins - he does, after all, have to make his Confession just like everyone else (and I assume he also loses his temper, tells "white lies" to avoid hurting someone's feelings, and harbors ill feelings towards annoying people - he is, after all, human).
- Practicing Catholics, whether they realize it or not, are intimately familiar with the Bible - Old and New Testament - a good portion of it is read each day in the Mass - a reading from the Old Testament, one of the Psalms, a reading from the New Testament, and the Gospel. It's on a 3-year cycle, rotating from the various Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and other books of the Bible.
- Most Catholics own at least one Bible (I have 5-6 of them, in various places). True, most don't often break it out, unless it is to check out something someone said, but it's a rare home of a practicing Catholic that doesn't have a Bible.
- I own:
- A Gideon NT - received from the Gideons when they were doing a distribution at my college - portable and useful for comparing with the Catholic versions.
- A Douay-Rheims - Big, seldom taken off the shelf, bought during our first year of marriage.
- Several St. Joseph versions - often used in Catholic high schools. One is very small (about 4 x 6), and useful when traveling.
- New American version - I think it's my husband's.
- New International version - can't remember when we got that.
- I also facilitate our Wednesday Adult Faith group, and read the next Sunday's Mass readings, as well as help focus the discussion of their meaning following that. Right now, we're also viewing a video about the Gospel of John, and how it applies to our lives.
I'll be posting about once a week more about the Catholic faith, and how its teachings are a part of my life.