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Intimate Knowledge of Scripture

The Archbishops and Bishops of the United States in Conference assembled, to their Clergy and faithful people: Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Venerable Brethren of the Clergy,
Beloved Children of the Laity:

Scripture, Bible, Written Word of GodTo the Church which is taught all truth by the Holy Spirit, Christ entrusted the whole deposit of divine revelation. To the watchful care of the Church we owe the preservation of that Book from which Christians in every age have derived instruction and strength. How needful was the warning of the Apostle that “no prophecy of Scripture is made by private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20), can be seen in the history of those movements which began by leaving each individual to take his own meaning from the sacred text, and now, after four centuries, have ended in rejecting its Divine authority. The Church, on the contrary, with true reverence for the Bible and solicitude for the spiritual welfare of its readers, has guarded both it and them against the dangers of false interpretation.

In the same spirit, dear brethren, we exhort you to acquire a loving familiarity with the written word: “for what things soever were written, were written for our learning; that through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). This intimate knowledge of Holy Writ will bring you close to the Person and Life of our Savior and to the labors of His Apostles. It will renew in your hearts the joy with which the first Christians received the tidings of salvation. And it will deepen in you the conviction that the Scriptures are indeed the word of God, “which can instruct you unto salvation by the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15) — a conviction which cannot be shaken either by the disputes of the learned who “stumble at the word,” or by the errors of the unlearned and unstable who distort the Scriptures “to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). (Pastoral letter of the archbishops and bishops of the United States assembled in conference at the Catholic University of America, September, 1919. Scripture references are in the text.)