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I was recently doing some research on Bible publishing and distribution in order to compose this answer over on the Skeptics Stack Exchange site. In spite of the result being well received, I have a nagging doubt that I might have missed something. The one I'm wondering if I under-estimated is related to the Catholic church.

I realize the United Bible Societies specifically prints Bibles in many languages that include the Deuterocanon and works with both Catholic and Orthodox groups for distribution. What I was unable to determine is if this was the primary source for Bibles in Catholic circles around the world. If not, the sheer size of the Catholic church must place a pretty high demand on some other publisher.

I found some references to a Catholic Biblical Federation but didn't find any evidence that they were a major player in print or distribution of Bibles. A related article in Newadvent talks a lot about Protestant Bible societies and historical movements but doesn't specifically mention the role Catholic church. Are primarily Protestant societies listed because that was the point of the article or because that's primary what is out there?

Does the Catholic church have any in house publishing operations or an independent publishing/distribution source that handles high volume in any worldwide region or do they typically piggy back on the regional Bible societies that are summed up under the UBS umbrella?

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It might be helpful to discuss preferred translations, and whether you are looking for English, Spanish, or all languages –  Affable Geek Apr 6 '13 at 11:02
@AffableGeek: Definitely all languages worldwide, no preference on translation, just volume. Whatever they use a lot of -- where do they come from? –  Caleb Apr 6 '13 at 11:15
Do you consider Nanjing Amity Printing a part United Bible Societies? My Czech Jerusalem Bible was printed by them, and I suspect they print English version of the Jerusalem Bible too, which would mean a big portion of Catholic Bible production worldwide. –  Pavel Apr 6 '13 at 11:29
@Pavel I think the issue for me would be whether UBS is including them in their publishing statistics. Considering that on the front page of their website they claim that to be "a joint venture between Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies" I would suspect that UBS gladly counts them in their figures. In any case, their numbers are < 5 million copies per year, so I'm not too worried about it. If that is a major source for Catholics, that might make a valid answer, but it should be noted that it is a UBS source. –  Caleb Apr 6 '13 at 11:31
Perhaps Protestants assume that catholic laity read Bibles? It is not required. Same for the Anglican and Orthodox Church. The Catholic Church is a liturgical church. They have a missal or prayer book provided at the pew which contains all the important passages from the Bible. We listen to the readings and to a sermon, and recite from the book. Over a year or so by attending all services during the week and on Sunday, we hear most of the important Bible passages. A friend went to Jesuit college - catholic since a child and never knew people read the bible until he married a Protestant. –  Waeshael Jun 23 '13 at 20:45

1 Answer 1

Catholic Bibles do not come from just one publisher. They contract with hundreds of publishers to produce Catholic Bibles and other works. Although the Vatican does have a printing office it seems to only be used for Anthologies and other more recent publications.

Here are a few examples





To sum up the church uses large and small publishers to fill their needs throughout the world. It appears that the publishers are selected by region so they can meet the needs of the local Churches quickly and reduce cost on shipping and storage. Which of these publishers is the largest would be almost impossible to determine as I doubt the Catholic church publishes that information. But I hope this helps in some way.

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