Q -I was skimming an article discussing differences in denominations, and it said that Catholics are not only taught the Bible, but also the “Apocrypha”. I went to public schools, but my wife has umpteen years in Catholic Education, and we never hear of this. What is it?
A - Thanks for the question. The word "apocrypha" comes from the Greek word apokryphos, which means "hidden". When used in reference to the Bible it commonly means "non-canonical". In other words, it is used to refer to books that were written about the time of the books in the Bible, but are not inspired and not part of the canon of the Bible. So, even while they might be important books, they were not inspired by the Holy Spirit and not included in the Bible.
Because Catholics and Protestants dispute the number of books of the Bible, our Protestant brothers and sisters commonly refer to the 7 books found in Catholic Bibles, but not found in Protestant Bibles, as "apocryphal" or "The Apocrypha". We Catholics dispute the notion that the books are not part of our canon.
Catholics commonly calls these books the deuterocanonical books. The New Testament canon of the Bible was put together by the early Church and all Christians agree on the 27 books found there. But, the Old Testament has a different story on how it came to be. The simple version can be found here.