is this true?


A claim from a non-catholic:

In A.D. 1229, Pope Innocent III decreed, the Bible, God’s book, should be denied to all laymen, all members of Catholic churches other than priests or higher officials.


is this part of the inquisition?




Considering Innocent III died 16 June 1216, I doubt he was decreeing much of anything in 1229.

– Mark L. Chance.


This is one of the accusations against Catholicism leveled a little differently by Loraine Boettner in his infamous list of atrocities perpetrated by the Catholic Church.

Welcome to the world of apologetics.

Here’s the answer:

Bible forbidden to laymen, placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Council of Toulouse in A.D. 1229 a) [The] Index was established in 1543, so a council held in 1229 hardly could have listed a book on it…The council held in Toulouse dealt with the Albigensian heresy, a variety of Manichaeanism, which maintained that marriage is evil because the flesh is evil…In order to promulgate their views, the Albigensians used vernacular versions of the Bible to “substantiate” their theories…[and they] were twisting the Bible to support an immoral moral system. So the bishops at Toulouse restricted the use of the Bible until the heresy was ended. (C&F p.45)


Oh boy, so many things wrong with this that I don’t know where to start. I’ll add a few points to those already raised against it.

Firstly 95% of laymen couldn’t read at that time anyways, so it truly would have mattered very little what books were allowed or forbidden to them.

Secondly the Bible was publicly read from, then as now, in Mass every single blessed day. Anyone who attended Church would know what it said.

Thirdly the Inquisitions (there were a number of separate ones, the most well-known being the Spanish Inquisition and the Roman Inquisition) began a good 200 years at least after this particular Pope.


That 95% is inflated; more like 60% or 70%.

Second point’s fine.

And third, the first Inquisition was actually right under that Pope; combatting the Cathar heresy was the original purpose of the Inquisition.

That first inquisition did use torture, but it used it much more sparingly than the secular courts, and never as punishment. It also granted a “grace period” (where we get the term, actually) of a week after an investigation began, in which heretics could confess and recant with no legal penalties. And it granted the accused two rights we don’t allow today:

  1. any coerced testimony had to be repeated in the absence of coercion to be allowable.
  2. known enemies of the accused were not allowed to witness against him.


Are you sure? People didn’t go to school back then…not only that, but there basically weren’t any books for them to read.


Yep the Western printing press (They say that the Chinese had one long before Gutenberg’s) didn’t come along until about 1445 or so.


We must also remember that when a person was educated back then, latin and literacy went hand in hand. So even the non-vernacular argument falls apart under close scrutiny.

All people who were taught how to read, would, through the same schooling, know how to read latin.

So even though latin may not have been the vernacular, anyone who could read could have read a latin bible just fine.

If you couldn’t read latin, chances were you couldn’t read, period. Vernacular or not.


Back in the day, people usually learned to read from the Book of Psalms.

In Latin. :slight_smile:


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