This must be yet another one of those misleading headlines some newspapers slap on their articles to get the readers' attention. While bloghopping, I found a reproduction of this Times Online article with the headline – Catholic Church no long swears by the truth of the Bible – published on 5 October last year. The first paragraph reads:
THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.
which seems just a tad less interesting than the headline.
The writer of the article, Ruth Gledhill, goes on to place this announcement in the context of the rise of the religious Right, particularly in the US. These Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing 'intelligent design' to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.
The teaching document, entitled The Gift of Scripture, is published by the Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland, who say that the Church must offer the gospel in ways 'appropriate to changing times, intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries'. The document tells the five million worshippers in the UK that they 'should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision'.
The Times article ends with two lists of citations from the Bible which clarify their truth value following the bishops' document.
One particularly funny piece of information included in the report (depending on your religious beliefs, I suppose) is that
A Christian charity is sending a film about the Christmas story to every primary school in Britain after hearing of a young boy who asked his teacher why Mary and Joseph had named their baby after a swear word.
For a comparison between literalist spirituality and its alternative, mystical spirtuality, see this page.
For the prescribed use of the terms fundamentalism and literalist, and the difference between the two within the Christian community, see this Wikipedia article.