The Philippines, an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, has a 60 percent population that does not read the Bible or even own one, according to a survey by the Philippine Bible Society.
"It's very alarming indeed, but at the same time I look at it as an opportunity to look for these young people who are hungry for the Word of God," said Fr. Oscar Alunday, the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate.
In response, alarmed Filipino Catholic leaders recently launched a project to boost Bible literacy, according to The Manila Times Wednesday.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate developed a way to attract believers, particularly young adults, to Bible reading by linking it with a popular technology, mobile phones.
"Bible Anime" – developed by CBCP, Philippines Bible Society and Enzima International Inc. - supplies Sunday readings and animations to phone users via a multimedia messaging service.
"Now, Christians seeking a quick spiritual boost will be able to access Bible readings in their mobile phones as part of a drive to popularize the Scriptures," said Alunday.
"It's a concept of networking or being the partners of all the young people in the country using mobile phones," he said.
The service costs a small feed per download and is currently only available for Smart users. It will soon be available from other mobile-phone companies, assured its creators.
In addition to Bible Anime, the Philippine Bible Society also created last year the e-Bible – an electronic version of the Bible translated to seven Philippine languages. The non-profit group said the idea resulted from concerns that the Scriptures would be "left behind in world that is moving so rapidly."
"If we are truly to engage our present society in the Word of God, we have to do it through all positive media that reach them, and one of these is, or course, the computer," it said.
The Philippines is the only predominantly Roman Catholic county in Asia. Its population consists of 80.9 percent Roman Catholic, 4.5 percent other Christian, and 2.8 percent evangelical, according to the CIA World Factbook.