Cardinals' Advice to Pope Jules III

Of all the counseling we can possibly give to your Holiness, we reserve the more important of it to the last. We must hold our eyes well open and intervene with all of our power in the affairs we have to consider. The reading of the Gospel must be permitted as little as possible (especially in the modern languages, and in the countries under your authority). The very little that is read generally at the Mass should be enough and it should be prohibited for anyone to read more. (As long as the people are content with that small part, our interests will prosper; but from the moment that the people desire to read more, our interests will begin to suffer.)

Here is the book that more than any other provoked rebellions against us, storms that have been risky in bringing us loss in fact, if anyone reads accurately the teaching of the Bible and compares what occurs in our churches, he will soon find out the contradictions and will see that our teaching is far removed from that of the Bible and more often yet is in opposition to it.

If the people realize this, they will provoke us without rest until all become unveiled and then we will become the object of ridicule and universal hate. It is necessary that the Bible be taken away and snatched from the hands of the people, however, with much wisdom in order to not provoke trouble.

This purports to be advice given to Pope Jules III of Rome in 1550 by French Cardinals and to be found in the National Bibliotheque in Paris, France. The Volume is Reserve 22719; Pages 101-102.

It reads like Protestant anti-Catholic propaganda.

I found it also here among otherwise reasonable Catholic arguments that offend Protestants:

Anyone know anything about this?

I don’t know anything about that particular work. It doesn’t sound right but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was real but wildly out of context.

With any 16th century writing, including Trent, we have to remember the time, that the Protestant Reformation had started 33 years earlier. The Protestant Reformation was the context.

Luther posted the 95 Theses in 1517. Calvin published the Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536. Bucer, Bullinger, Cramner, Farrel and many others; these people were misinterpreting the Bible, teaching error and setting up their own Churches. They were teaching people that you could interpret Scripture and draw your own conclusions apart from the Church.

Given the situation, it was no wonder that some wanted to restrict access to the Bible. The goal was to stop people from making grave mistakes which could ultimately lead to separation from the sacraments and loss of salvation.


I think the citation is suspicious. “Reserve 22719” seems very strange. Normal citations give a book’s title, not a reserve number. I’m not even sure if there are things such as reserve numbers. It does not match the decimal system that I’m familiar with from normal libraries.

Third, the word “reserve” and the high number seem like they are designed to dissuade checking it out. They bring to mind a back room in a library where only specialists go (a “reserve” section), stacked with stacks of tens of thousands of large books (“volumes”). That’s not what normal libraries are like, even national ones, at least not to my knowledge.

For a proper citation, there should be a book title. Then we could check it out to see if there is such a book. When I google “reserve 22719,” all I get is links to people naming this supposed volume attached to this supposed excerpt.

There are documents which contain records of communications between popes and cardinals. They have common titles and categorizations. They belong to a category of literature with common tags like “ecclesiastical history,” “acta sancta sede,” and things like that, not “Reserve 22719.”

Based on this evidence, I think the citation is bogus and the document too.

Thank you, case closed.

Just a cursory reading shows that there is no way a Cardinal (or even less likely Cardinal***s***) could have said this to a Pope. It just sounds too out of character, :shrug:

Given that eventually the Gutenberg Bible, the first Bible to be mass-produced via the printing press was a Catholic Bible (the Vulgate, to be specific), these sorts of “letters” or whatever quite simply do not add up with the rest of the corpus of historical datum. :confused:

Just a brief quote from the link:

“This letter is a well-known fake. The Bibliotheque Nationale Richlieu in Paris is quite familiar with enquiries for it.”

I may be wrong about this, but I was once told they library of Congress in DC has a section that is ‘reserved’ and not just anyone can access the books and other information in there. Im not sure what information would be stored there, or why they would even have a section like that, if its truly ‘secret information’ they dont want the public to have, why even have a room for it.

Reserved books are books that a library user is currently using and studying, in a library which doesn’t permit people to check out books. You put them “on reserve” so that you will be able to continue using them, even if somebody else requests them, and so the librarians won’t have to keep getting them out of the stacks and the files, day after day.

And yes, you have to apply to be able to do research in the Library of Congress (although it’s not necessarily a lengthy process to do), or be a Congressmember or member of Congress staff, so it’s true that not just everyone can use it.

But all the Library of Congress stacks are closed; you always have to ask for materials to be brought to you by the librarians. This is true of most big research libraries.

Of course, with the big advances in digitization, one very seldom has to go to a library to do research or read books or manuscripts.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit