All over the world the Roman Catholic Church is changing its attitude toward the Bible.

In the countries of East Africa, for example, CHRISTIANITY TODAY News Correspondent Tom Houston reports that the Catholic hierarchy is cooperating in a number of Bible-society translation projects. In one recent safari, a Bible-society agent sold more Bibles to Roman Catholic missionary organizations than to Protestants.

But this apparent new openness to the Scriptures must be seen against the backdrop of liberal Catholic scholars who now speak freely of alleged myths in the Bible. Docs an element of Catholic leadership feel that it can afford to let its people have the Scriptures because with a weakened view of authority there is not much to fear?

Father Roland Devaux, a leading Bible scholar, sees the Scriptures as a common ground for ecumenism: “The Bible is the field on which we parted several centuries ago and is now the field where we can meet most easily.”

Many evangelicals feel that whatever the motive, more attention to the Bible has great potential for reform. Perhaps the most remarkable Catholic attitude toward the Bible is seen in Mexico. The following is a report prepared for CHRISTIANITY TODAY by Pat H. Carter:

Father Manuel Molina, president of the Catholic Bible Society of Mexico, has a double ambition: to place a Bible in every Catholic home and to make the Bible the center of faith and practice in his church.

Molina began to attract national attention in September, 1962, when he sponsored the first Catholic National Day of the Bible. In the Cathedral of Cuernavaca, images were removed and biblical texts placed on the pulpits, the altar, and the ciborium (vessel holding the eucharistic bread). Protestant ministers were recognized as honored guests in a special service.

Molina travels across Mexico selling Bibles and teaching priests to organize home Bible classes. Apprehension among conservative Catholics and controversy among evangelicals swirl in his wake.

Molina decided early in life to dedicate himself “to a rediscovery of the Bible among Catholics. And I was determined to remain a Catholic. This revival must come within the church.” He has served in the priesthood in Spain, Brazil, and Argentina. When transferred to Mexico he gained support to begin a national movement.

A short, spectacled man, Molina is a skillful public speaker who spices his lectures with homely anecdotes. He illustrates his church’s attitude toward the Bible with the story of “Pancho,” the migrant worker who wrote regularly to his wife, Rosa, and included his salary check. Rosa always rushed out to cash the checks. But although she conserved the letters carefully, she never got around to reading them. The Roman Catholic Church is like Rosa, says Molina. The Bible contains her “letters from the Lord.” Through the years she has carefully extracted the “checks,” such as the Magnificat of Mary and the Lord’s Prayer. The Bible itself she has conserved unread in a place of honor.

Article continues below

Molina tells fellow clerics that the church’s neglect of the Bible is the chief reason for the surge of Protestantism in Latin America. “They who say the Bible is dangerous are burros (asses). It is written for all, the educated as well as the ignorant.”

He meticulously avoids offensive references to Protestants. But this has not saved his evangelical friends from sharp criticism. Roberto Porras, president of the Bible Society of Mexico, is also executive secretary of the National Baptist Convention. A group of Baptist ministers initiated an ouster movement in 1963 when Porras accepted an invitation to sell “Protestant Bibles” in the Cathedral of Cuernavaca. The controversy was intensified upon publication of a letter in which Porras addressed Molina as “brother.”

Molina scoffs at the suggestion that his movement is in any way similar to the Reformation. He insists that the modern Roman Catholic Church, unlike that of the sixteenth century, is “always in perfect renovation.”

Protestant Panorama

The Lutheran Church in America is preparing a booklet which asks congregations to eliminate “commercialism” in card parties, bazaars, games of chance, dinners, and sales. The church’s Commission on Stewardship has called for “a move toward the development of other means of publicity and interpretation so that commercial activities can be abandoned as rapidly as possible.”

The Rt. Rev. John E. Hines, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, sent a letter to all U. S. Senators urging them to approve quickly the United Nations conventions on genocide, slavery, forced labor, and the political rights of women. The letters follow up a resolution by the Episcopal General Convention last year which expressed support of U. S. ratification of the conventions.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville is establishing a professorship in evangelism in honor of Billy Graham. Dr. Kenneth Chafin, presently the head of the Department of Evangelism at South western Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, has been elected to occupy the chair. It will be known as the Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism and will be financed for the first three years by a grant of $30,000 from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. A permanent endowment of $500,000 will be sought to support the professorship, to maintain the Billy Graham materials housed in the seminary library, and to assist in a field program of evangelism to be guided and directed by the professor.

Article continues below

Dr. Carl McIntire and his associates secured Federal Communications Commission approval last month to purchase control of a Media, Pennsylvania, radio station. Five of the six FCC members approved the transaction, having been given assurances that McIntire would adhere to the FCC’s “fairness doctrine” on controversial issues. Opposition to the transfer had been voiced by a number of religious groups (see CHRISTIANITY TODAY, February 12, 1965).

The crash of a small private plane in western Tanzania February 26 claimed the lives of a Danish program coordinator of the Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service, his three-year-old daughter, and a Tanzanian game officer. The Dane, Jorgen Norredam, 44, had given up a position in Copenhagen as general secretary of the Royal Danish Automobile Club to join the TCRS last June. The TCRS is operated by the Lutheran World Federation, which refused to give details of the crash except to say that the plane “failed to clear a tree just after taking off.”

The Hon. Mitchell Sharp, Canadian Minister of Trade and Commerce, turned the main door key in ceremonies opening the new headquarters of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada last month. The $500,000 building includes denominational offices, a printing plant, and a book store. It is located on a two-and-a-half-acre site in the Thorncliffe Park section of the city of Toronto.


Dr. Jim Alvin Sanders was named professor of Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary, New York. Sanders, now teaching at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, will begin at Union in the fall. He studied at Vanderbilt University and Divinity School and holds the Ph.D. from Hebrew Union College.

Dr. A. Berkeley Mickelsen accepted an invitation to join the faculty of Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, as professor of New Testament interpretation. The appointment becomes effective in September if ratified by the annual meeting in June of the Baptist General Conference, with which the seminary is affiliated.

Dr. William George, a brother of former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and an active Baptist layman, observed his 100th birthday February 23. George lives in Criccieth, Wales, and attends the local Baptist chapel each Sunday morning and evening, weather permitting.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.