Index of Prohibited Books

Today, my confessor (at a TLM parish) told me that, although the Index of Forbidden Books is not updated, that Catholics are still supposed to avoid the books that are on it. Does anyone else use the Index to guide their reading material? What should I do if a class that I am taking requires me to read one (I’m referring here to the books on political philosophy and the like)? :confused:

This article has to do with one of the books on the index. It would seem that one should obtain permission from their bishop (religious their superiors) before one should read the book. It would seem up to the bishop if you having it required for a class would be serious enough a reason.

Is there a website where we could find the complete list? Just from looking at Wikipedia, I’ve read most of the famous authors listed there… for a lot of them I don’t even understand why we’re not supposed to read them.

From the Wiki entry you cite, here is a link to the updated in 1948librorum prohibitorum.

Here is a link that will take you to a page with a little more detail about the censored books of specific authors.

Looks like most of them would never make the “must read list” of the average Joe. Maybe some of the more obscene items, but even they would be horribly dated. I think it became obvious to the censors that with the manpower available they just couldn’t and never would be able to keep up with the literary torrent. Index or no it would seem rather obvious that much of today’s plethora of “sex and violence” should not be read. I have tried to teach my children, now all grown up, that one becomes what one reads. Fill your mind with trash your life will tend to being trashy.

Aside from those books that were condemned for immorality, many were condemned for being anti-clerical, anti-religion, or heretical in nature.

Pope Paul VI removed the list of Forbidden Books. Essentially they were the works of heretics which were discussed at Vatican II.

Your average philosophy or history student would look at some of them almost certainly - I only read the first bunch of entries and saw Diderot’s Encyclopedia and numerous works of Jeremy Bentham.

It is not that big of a deal if one is scholastically employed to get permission to read books off the Index, esp. the works of Hugo, Berkeley, Voltaire, Josephus, Kant, and Pascal. If the school itself has not applied (a Catholic school), one just sends the bishop a little letter. Some bishops will have no idea about which you speak, so be prepared.

Personally, I’d like to see Derieda and Foulcault added to the Index, but the Index is closed.

Don’t get too hung up about the List. The Bible was on the list at one time.


Certain incredibly poor and deliberately corrupted translations of the Bible were, certainly. As they should be. Important difference there.

Are the existentialists on there (Sartre, Camus et al)?

Surely the key issue here is that the Index has served its’ purpose.

When the printing press was first invented most people’s encounter with the written word was only through the Bible or any letters written by the monks under the authority of the Church. Though most people could not write, most could read a little, or would know someone who could read to them.

It took many centuries though for people to learn the skill of critical reading, i.e. reading a book and forming an opinion on it, rather than taking it all in and memorising, as was the case with reading the Bible and with most other reading done by semi-literate people.

We are now in a situation where I hope that most people are able to evaluate what they read with some intelligence. As Catholics, it matters far more what we DO read than what we DON’T - i.e. make sure you are well grounded in the Bible, Church doctrine and devotional classics before exposing oneself to blatant heresy.

Sadly, it seems that many people in the world have still not developed this skill of critical literacy, and blindly take in any madcap theory or worse the kind of mindless rot about celebrity lifestyle they read in the media.

IMHO it’s better to read every work on the Index than to be an avid reader of supermarket tabloids and gossip magazines.

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