To all lovers of the written word of God
In all his letters there are, of course, some passages which are hard to understand, and these are the ones that uneducated and unbalanced people distort, in the same way as they distort the rest of scripture - to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)
If everything were true that some people say about the Catholic Church and the Bible, our title would be, "How we have not got the Bible"! The common opinion you will hear from non-Catholics is how the Catholic Church hates the Bible and how it has done its best to destroy it; how it has always kept the Bible out of the hands of the people and has stopped them reading it. They say that the Catholic Church has done this because it knows that its teachings are absolutely contradicted by the written letter of God's word and can be proved wrong by the Scriptures.
The popular understanding of the Reformation is that when people first looked on the open Bible they saw they had been fooled by the Church, and had been taught to hold "the commandments of men" as teachings from God, and so joyfully threw off their chains and embraced the pure truth of the word of God that they found in the Bible.
People will say that the Church stopped people reading the Bible and persecuted those who translated it so that it would be available to everybody, and has now only grudgingly and uneasily allowed people to see it.
This, of course, is nonsense, like all the stories about monasteries and convents being dens of corruption, or Catholics paying money to have their sins forgiven. But what are the facts? Is it true? Or have people - even convincing some ignorant Catholics themselves - built up mountains of falsehood?
We have to look at things intelligently, calmly considering the facts of history, not its prejudices and lies. Then we shall see that the Catholic Church
1. has truly been the parent, the maker under God of the Bible;
2. has guarded and defended it through the ages, and preserved it from error and destruction;
3. has always held the Bible in the highest veneration and esteem, and has based all its teachings on it;
4. is the only one to possess the true Bible and the whole Bible, so that copies of the Scriptures not approved by the Catholic Church are defective; and
5. has kept and protected the Scriptures ensuring whatever is in them is true.
When it comes to the Bible, we can thank God for its preservation and the fact that it has been handed on. We can admire the Church for its vigilance, zeal, and unswerving faithfulness to the mission entrusted to us by Almighty God.