A CATHOLIC agency has
announced that it plans to give at least £166,000 annually for the next five years to the predominantly Protestant United Bible Societies.
The money will be used to translate, produce and distribute bibles which can be used by Catholics as well as members of other Christian churches.
The World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate said it intended to raise the money from private sources and funds, half from Europe and half from the United States.
Around the world, 110 common bible projects arc under way and the first fruit, a Korean New Testament, was recently presented to Pope Paul VI. New Testaments in five Philippine languages also are near completion. Vatican officials said, and a French joint bible is at the printers.
Protestant versions of the Bible have helped the Catholic church get liturgical reform off the ground in many parts of the world. When Pope Paul ordered the switch from the'traditional latin to modern languages, many bishops were without vernacular bibles on which to base the new liturgy.
FAIR SHARE Protestant bibles have been translated into 1.200 of the world's more than 2,000 languages, while Catholic versions exist in only 80 languages.
As a result, many bishops have based their liturgies on Protestant bibles.
Dom Bernard Orchard, 0.S.B.. secretary general of the Federation for the Biblical Apostolate, said the money being given to the bible societies was intended to pay
for the benefit which Catholics obtain from their work.
"This is nothing more than the Catholics taking up a fair share of the financial burden which the other denominations have carried alone for years," he said.
however. Dom Bernard said the money would not pay for the printing or distribution of existing Protestant bibles, such as the Authorised or Revised Standard Versions, which are sometimes used in Catholic churches.
Instead the donation will pay for Catholic translators working on new bibles along with Protestant scholars, and for the printing and distribution of their work once it is completed. Until now, the bible societies have been paying for the Catholic as well as their own scholars. The Vatican last year granted L10.400 to match a similar grant by the bible societies towards research on Greek and Hebrew biblical texts acceptable to both Catholics and Protestants.