Forbidden Books


Dear Catholic Answers Forum… This question has probably been asked before (and will probably be asked again, after this)… and I don’t know if this is the right forum… but… where can I find a copy of the old “Index” of forbidden books?

Also… is there a modern day equivalent of the “Index”? And if so… where may I find that? I’m very curious about this topic… and would like to know more. Thank you, in advance for consideration of my question. God bless. :slight_smile:


(Edited out link to anti-Catholic website.)


The Index of Forbidden Books was abolished by Pope Paul VI on June 24, 1966, and to the best of my knowledge, has not been replaced with any other lists.


Im not sure where to find an official list, but the concept is very logical and Christian.

Take for example the Jehovah’s Witness “translation” of the Bible, to any Christian who does not know Greek (which is 95% of us) we wont know where the JW’s mistranslated the Bible. Before the internet the average person couldnt find where mistranslations were, so the best and safest thing for the Church to do was to forbid reading such “translations”.


Thanks all, very much. But now… another question comes to mind. Why did Pope Paul VI abolish the “Index”? I’m just very curious about the whole thing.

Aren’t the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur still used? I seem to see them, occasionally. And what was the reason that the late Holy Father, Paul VI did away with the “Index”? It seems that this might have been a fairly important tool for parents with school age kids.

And I would imagine that there are still books out there… which we Catholics are advised to avoid. “The Da Vinci Code” comes immediately to mind. I’m sure there are others.



The Index of Forbidden Books was abolished by Pope Paul VI because it had become essentially impossible to enforce. With the increasing influence of print and electronic media, yes, even in 1966, people were getting learning about these banned works anyway. Also, there was a (misplaced?) spirit of free inquiry at the time.

Personally, I think it was a mistake.

The imprimatur and nihil obstat are indeed still used and are as meaningful as the bishop or priest (or their staff) who granted them. There have been books that have had either the nihil obstat or the imprimatur withdrawn. Christ Among Us by former Paulist priest Anthony Wilhelm is an example of that. (Described here.)




Fortunately even though the index was abolished a great number of Catholic Apologists have arisen to at least defend the Church’s position/teachings for those of us who are open to the facts.


Its sad because at one point that book was hugely popular in RCIA classes in years past.


The index included not only works of theology, philosophy, and morality, but also racy novels or novels containing anti-clerical content. Books like Dumas’ Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask and Bouvoir’s novels. Books that in today’s market would be considered quite tame.

In addition to the fact that most people ignored the Index, the sheer volume of books being published made it possible to examine only a small portion of those that fit the categories for examination. It had become like trying to put out a major fire with a bucket brigade.

It may be that books on theology, philosophy and morality written by Catholic authors are supposed to seek the imprimatur and nihil obstat before publication. Even that has been impossible to enforce, but one can still use them in selecting reading materials.

Imagine attempting to place such a requirement on forums such as this very one. It would render such communication media impossible and ineffective.

Despite the lack of an index, as individuals we are morally required to use care in what we select for reading by ourselves and our children. Some things like pornography are obviously off limits, but there are plenty of other materials including movies, tapes, books, magazines, etc. that require some prudential judgement.


Another problem with the Index of Forbidden Books is that attention tends to draw even more interest. In Latin America in the nineteenth century, books on the index were among the most widely circulated, even though they were banned from being shipped to the New World. An examination of private libraries from that era shows that the typical book collection almost exactly paralleled the Forbidden Book Index.

For example, how many MORE people went out and bought The Da Vinci Code after the movie and although the controversial TV shows came out?


Oh, ok. Thanks folks. Your wonderful answers and insights have answered my questions. God bless. :slight_smile:

closed #13

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