I was reading something that mentioned that Pope Clement XI had forbidden Christians to read Scripture. Not trusting that this was wholly accurate, since the source was a little anti-Catholic (not horrifically, but a little), I went to www.papalencyclicals.com, and looked up the 1713 bull of Pope Clement XI, Unigenitus, (this was the work cited), and sure enough, the criticism wasn’t completely accurate, but nevertheless certain things are a little concerning.
Among the condemned propositions were as such:
- It is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for every kind of person, to study and to know the spirit, the piety, and the mysteries of Sacred Scripture.
- The reading of Sacred Scripture is for all.<I guess this means that it isn’t necessary for everyone to read it; Catholics can be illiterate>
- The sacred obscurity of the Word of God is no reason for the laity to dispense themselves from reading it.
- The Lord’s Day ought to be sanctified by Christians with readings of pious works and above all of the Holy Scriptures. It is harmful for a Christian to wish to withdraw from this reading.
- It is an illusion to persuade oneself that knowledge of the mysteries of religion should not be communicated to women by the reading of Sacred Scriptures. Not from the simplicity of women, but from the proud knowledge of men has arisen the abuse of the Scriptures and have heresies been born.<I’m not sure what the meaning of this is.>
- To snatch away from the hands of Christians the New Testament, or to hold it closed against them by taking away from them the means of understanding it, is to close for them the mouth of Christ.<I sort-of understand this, since I assume it means that it’s the Church, not Scripture itself, that is the mouth of Christ.>
- To forbid Christians to read Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, is to forbid the use of light to the sons of light, and to cause them to suffer a kind of excommunication.<This I don’t understand.>
- To snatch from the simple people this consolation of joining their voice to the voice of the whole Church is a custom contrary to the apostolic practice and to the intention of God.<I’m not really sure what this means; it might not even be related.>
- Clement XI, Unigenitus
You can find the bull here: papalencyclicals.net/Clem11/c11unige.htm
I know the Catechism exhorts all Christians to read Sacred Scripture, which is why this is such a surprise. I really would like to know what this means.