This in particular hit me in the face this morning when listening to Interpreting the Scriptures. Beautifully put.
So are Catholics literalists? Well, the problem is one of precise meaning of a tendentious term. Don't use the term I would strongly advise you. Don't use the word "literal." You'd have guilt by association.Amen.
So what do we say?
I would say something like this:
"I don't like the term literal. It's mostly misunderstood but I seek to believe and to obey all that the Bible teaches according to God's intention in giving us this text.
I believe that it is true. I believe that that it is without error in all that it teaches us; things which are vital to our salvation and growth and holiness. In our relationship with God I believe that this is vital.
I take it realistically within the normal canons of interpretation and human speech according to what the text purports to be.
I take it seriously and I tremble at the word of God. It is the power of God for salvation. I want to be transformed by it. Those who reject it and minimize its truth multiply their sorrows and their troubles in the sight of God."David Higbee, FBT - Interpreting the Scriptures
(And yes I transcribed this for you phrase by phrase ... that's how powerful I found it.)