I'm not Catholic, myself, but do have this bit on anecdotal evidence:
The reason I'm not on Biblical Hermeneutics is because the site attracts the kinds of questions a lay Catholic ought not venture to guess upon and has no business asking non-Catholics their opinion upon. I very much care about being faithful to the original meaning and intent of the text, it's just for a Catholic we believe we already have taken everything into account and have a consistent and impenetrable doctrine, which is what all my questions are about.—Peter Turner Nov 11 '11 at 17:40
I deeply respect Peter and appreciate his contributions on Christianity.SE, so it saddens me that he feels that way. I'd love to read more of his work and I think he would have some wonderful insights, but I don't think that's in the cards. The problem, as I see it, is that Catholicism has:
A consistent and impenetrable doctrine.
This is a perfect illustration of the Hermeneutical Circle. For instance, was Mary always a virgin—both before and after the birth of Jesus? Many Christians say "no" because the Bible seems pretty clear that Jesus had brothers. Starting with the text, the doctrine of Mary's Perpetual Virginity would never come up. It came from somewhere else. So when a Catholic looks at the text of, say, Matthew 13:55, they will apply the following logic:
The text seems to mean that Mary had other sons besides Jesus.
Therefore, the text seems to mean she must have ceased to be a virgin.
The doctrine of the church says that she never ceased to be a virgin.
Therefore, the text does not mean that Mary had other sons.
Now that's a valid argument, but it starts to break down around step 3 if the goal is to be:
Faithful to the original meaning and intent of the text.
Peter isn't interested in breaking out of his hermeneutical circle; he wants to understand it. That's a very acceptable position in the game of life, but it doesn't work on Biblical Hermeneutics. On this site, we must sacrifice all else on the altar of the text. Yes, we rely on scholarship, but we also don't hesitate to call out scholars who have lost their way. For the purposes of this site, I must even consider the possibility that the Bible shows my deepest beliefs are wrong. In fact, it does. All the time.
Ultimately, when I read the Bible, I'm setting foot on a journey that will result in a consistent doctrine. With any luck, it will converge on an orthodox position. That's just a bonus, however. More importantly, it will be a penetrable doctrine to anyone who follows the path that begins with the text. We must be open to the possibility that our a priori doctrinal position is wrong lest:
When two sides of an argument disagree because one person believes
A and the other believes
¬A and the reason is because each holds to some impenetrable doctrine, the results are painful. On a site dedicated to understanding doctrine, the challenge of keeping interactions between opposing factions civil remains constant. Without exception, every conflict is because some people hold
A and others hold
¬A and neither side will back down. We can sidestep some of these issues by simply requiring that questions be about the text and not heavily related to doctrine. We require a level playing field, so to speak, when it comes to examining our texts.
Of course answers can and do contain doctrinal biases. But that's ok because we ask two things of answers:
Document your sources.
The first helps us understand the bias of other's answers and the second helps us evaluate each answer in relation to the rest. Consider these two answers to a question on Matthew 1:25:
It means that Mary never had sex. End of story.
St. Jerome argued that the point of the passage was to indicate that Mary did not have sex before Jesus was born, but it says nothing about whether she did after Jesus was born. To argue the opposite is to argue from the absence of evidence.
The first would be deleted as a non-answer (or converted to a comment). But the later could be voted up even by people who disagree with it. Using argument similar to the second, there's no reason a Catholic contributor couldn't thrive here.