Index Librorum Prohibitorum


Does anyone know anything about the Index Librorum Prohibitorum? I know It is not in force, but wikipedia (with a reliable source) says this:

“This Congregation for Doctrine of Faith (…) reaffirms that its Index retains its moral value (…) in the sense that it is appealing to the conscience of the faithful (…) to be on their guard against written materials that can put faith and good conduct in danger” - Signed Alfredo card. Ottaviani, June 14, 1966).[1]

Does anyone know anything about this, I will be studying philosophy in september and will probably be required to read many of the books on the index. What should I do?

Please provide a source, I do not want opinions.


Hi Pete,

Methinks you answered your own question. 1)There is no longer a list of prohibited books 2) You should be cautious when reading a book that used to be on the list.



**Once in awhile, Wikipedia gets it ‘right’. In this case, the CDF says that the LPI still retains its moral value in that it appeals to the informed conscience of the Christian who reads the material. That means one may read but not embrace, which is a good thing. How would one know otherwise?

Philosophy is a fascinating discipline. Instead of worrying about what philosophical books may be on the LPI, there is no harm in either reading or discussing them in the light of one’s Faith. **


Does anyone know where the last complete Index (1948 ? ) can be obtained? I would be interested in seeing the title list.

#5 has several books that were included in the ILP as well as books containing lists.


Is it a sin to read these books?


The Church never said the books in themselves were sinful, just that the material contained could end up being an occassion of sin, or harm one’s Faith in some way because of false persuasiveness. I personally have no problem reading the material.


Even when the list was in force, college students, at both Catholic and secular institutions, were usually given a blanket dispensation to read any book assigned to a class.

Since the list no longer exists, no such dispensation is necessary.


Oh thanks for the information, do you have a source?


I can try to find one - I may not have time today.

The list, at least in modern times, was not intended to suppress scholarly study or research. The prohibition applied mainly to casual reading, or reading without proper guidance, as in most cases the issue was heresy or atheistic philosophy.


To Pete_: Here is an excerpt from the now-outdated Catholic Encyclopedia:

Since the prohibition of books concerns all, anyone wishing to use forbidden books is bound to get a dispensation either from the Apostolic See or from some person specially authorized by the pope (paragraph 23). By paragraph 24 full powers to that effect are given to the Roman Congregation of the Index as well as to that of the Holy Office; also to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith with regard to the countries under it and to the Magister Sacri Palatii Apostolici with reference to Rome. Bishops as well as prelates with apostolic jurisdiction have the aforesaid power, according to paragraph 25, by virtue of their office, only in urgent cases for individual books; they are however, invested with full power, either directly by the Apostolic See or through the Congregation of the Index or the Propaganda. Dispensations are to be granted with prudence, and on just and reasonable grounds. The general authority given to bishops directly by the pope, in the so-called quinquennial faculties, may be delegated by them to others since the Decree of 14 December, 1898 (Acta S. Sedis, XXXI, 384). The bishops of England have this power from the Congregation of the Propaganda, and they make use of it by delegating it to their priests; thus, the latter may, without further formalities, give permission (e.g., to their penitents) to read forbidden books. Still a confessor, or even a bishop, who foresees that the reading of prohibited writings would expose the petitioner to great risk regarding faith or morals, would not be free to grant the desired dispensation; and if the petitioner nevertheless obtains it, he is not allowed to make use of it, since he is at all times bound by the natural law.

To repeat, however, there is no longer any such prohibition and no such dispensation is required.

If you have further scruples, you should talk the matter over with your pastor or a Catholic educator.


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