Why was there an Index of Prohibited Books?



I consider myself traditional in some respects, but I don’t know if I agree with the Index of Prohibited Books - I mean. I understand that the pope, and bishops have pastoral duties, and such, but I feel that this just gives credence to the view that catholics are/were blind followers of the pope. I especially have problems with the penalty of excommunication attached. I mean I was recently searching google books for “decem rationes” hoping to find them in Latin, and I found a reply to it by William Whitaker - then I found an Index of Prohibited books, that listed it as being banned. This to me basically says that you can’t read it to know the arguments made by the opposition or you’ll be excommunicated. :confused:



You want to know why there “was” one? Because I do not believe it exists anymore, so I don’t think you’d be excommunicated in doing apologetic work. :slight_smile: I’m not sure of it’s origins…but I know Karl Keating talks about some of the myths behind it in Catholicism and Fundamentalism.


The reason these types of lists do not exist anymore is that the Church has lost most (if not all) of it’s secular power in the modern-day world.

Do not dismiss this out of hand, though, for if the Church were to ever regain the might and influence it once had at the pinnacle of it’s power, there would once again be a “list” of banned books (starting with all of our modern day science books, then going downhill from there.)


Considering your name I don’t think I agree to much. I don’t particularly understand all parts of the Index of prohibited books, but I doubt that the Church’ll try to censor all your modern day science books. Pope Benedict has basically said that evolution, as long as not a godless, secular model, can be accepted.



I am not so sure of that as the Church has always supported study of the sciences, the only prohibition being on maintaining the dignity of man.

Now if a book is deliberately made to misinform people and promotes lies as truth it should be exposed as something that shouldn’t be read. Truth matters and should be defended.

If I write a book which explains how to treat childrens diseases and intentionally make the treatments explained in a manner to lead to the death of the children would it be good to point out that the book is misleading and shouldn’t be read?

For study and apologetic purposes people were able to read forbidden books to address errors and expose them. For everyday use they were rightfully banned.



The thing is that - many books that were banned were philosophy books, and stuff - and the lists tend to go on and on. I personally support censorship to a certain extent (e.g. no erotica, tarot, or much of the “new age” in bookstores) but I feel that it was detrimental to list some of the books they did. Especially considering the pains of excommunication attached.



WildEyed, it’s so easy to toss out statements like there with nothing to substantiate it other than opinion. What data do you base this on? Clearly you’ve not read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 2293. Read this and then come back and explain why you believe what you do. Please provide valid data to support your thesis. And when I say valid, I mean a document that professes to state in all truth what the Church believes.

You are interested in knowing the Truth, yes? I pray that’s why you’re here! Welcome! :thumbsup:



I do grant that there is a possibility some innocent books were included, though I do doubt that. There is a reason books would be added.

I am interested to know which philosophy books…As some are pure junk and can destroy people’s faith and some are very good.

As it would be just like looking at porn as it would be satisfying the carnal nature to read stuff like that I understand the excommunication. We should take truth that seriously and unfortunately many times these days we do not.

God Bless


My name is Michael, But do not discount what I have to say simply because I stand on the opposite side of the isle.

And re-read what I DID say.

I DID say that if the Church was a strong NOW as it had been in the past THEN yes, we would be seeing a censure of what we read, hear and say.

The fact the the Church is NOT as strong as it once was, combined with the FACT that many of the faithful have had problems aligning their faith with the ever-broadening breadth of modern knowledge is a testament to secular power.

Whether or not you wish to believe in the supernatural is your business and no one else’s (especially mine.) But do not simply discard history, nor discount opposing opinion simply because it does not match up to yours.

Facts are facts. They are not irrefutable.

Best regards,



The Church has always supported the sciences AS LONG AS it agreed with Church dogma and perceived Bible history. History is littered with examples of this.

One prime example: Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633. The sentence of the Inquisition was in three essential parts:

* Galileo was required to recant his heliocentric ideas; the idea that the Sun is stationary was condemned as "formally heretical." However, while there is no doubt that Pope Urban VIII and the vast majority of Church officials did not believe in heliocentrism, Catholic doctrine is defined by the pope when he speaks ex cathedra (from the Chair of Saint Peter) in matters of faith and morals. While Church officials did condemn Galileo, heliocentrism was never formally or officially condemned by the Catholic Church, except insofar as it held (for instance, in the formal condemnation of Galileo) that "The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures", and the converse as to the Sun's not revolving around the Earth.
* He was ordered imprisoned; the sentence was later commuted to house arrest.
* His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.

Now Dialogue was banned by the Church because, as you said, “promotes lies as truth it should be exposed as something that shouldn’t be read.” You know better NOW, but if you had lived then, you would not have had the chance to view these “heretical” ideas for yourself, as they went against established Church doctrine that the earth was the center of the universe,

Who “exposed” Galileo? Or do you still believe that the sun orbits the earth and the stars tell us about our daily lives?

Best Regards,



Ah, yes. The “pains of excommunication.” What a wonderfully effective way to keep the masses in line.


The HISTORY of the Church is quite well-known. And it has been quite substantiated over the years (in no small degree by your own Church itself.) The Middle Ages, the Inquisition, the census of scientists, theologians, philosophers, etc. is VERY well documented.


The “possibility?”

Well, that depends on whose “faith” you are “destroying.” On the other hand, you are telling me that your faith CAN be destroyed by an idea. That is sad. Doesn’t say much about the strength of faith, does it?

That depends on who’s “truth” it is. If it is the Vatican truth, I’ll keep my hand on my wallet just the same.


Hope this reference info helps Catholig. :thumbsup:

Catalogue des ouvrages mis à l’Index, 1825. Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer

The Catalogue of the books censure by the faculty of Theology of Paris.

Since 1517, the University of Louvain, of Cologne and Paris prohibit the writings of the German theologist Martin Luther (1483-1546), then other reformers, but do not publish these judgments.

The faculty of theology of Paris is the first to draw up a handwritten list of the censured books, which is published in August 1544 at Jean André, a bookseller specialized in the royal acts and catholic propaganda.

This Index is republished several times in Paris, while others appear in Leuwen, Venice, Rome, Antwerp, etc the Roman Index is essential then on catholic Europe.

The two hundred and thirty titles of the Parisian Index of 1544 are organized alphabetically authors or titles for the works whose authors are unknown. One finds there Pantagruel and Gargantua of François Rabelais (1494? - 1553), condemned seem it initially for obscenity and not for heresy.

One of the last surviving specimens of the original is on display at The National Library of France. It has been abundantly annotated by its first owner, Martin Bésard, Switzerland, corrector of printing works in Paris.


Okay, Ava, let’s break it down and address “the Truth” as you say, sentence by sentence:

Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 2293

1.) Basic scientific research, as well as applied research, is a significant expression of man’s dominion over creation.

How does the phrase “is a significant expression of man’s dominion over creation” square with Genesis 1:1-1:31? Would not this be “god’s” dominion over creation? Science, in both theory and applied research, constantly show us that man has little or no “dominion” over either the heavens nor the earth.

2.) Science and technology are precious resources when placed at the service of man and promote his integral development for the benefit of all.

***Except for when it conflicts with dogma, such as Galileo’s “heretical” views. That is, his “scientifically proven truth.”

It seems the “Church” had to give up on their “truth” when the scientific data became so overwhelming that the earth was NOT the center of the universe and that the sun did NOT revolve around the earth.

After a while, even they no longer believed their own scripture. However, in fine Vatican form, they did not actually state that they were wrong, they simply “re-interpreted” the passage. How convenient! ***

3.) By themselves however they cannot disclose the meaning of existence and of human progress.

***Except that they are doing just that. Every decade we debunk more and more of the great “mystery.” ***

4.) Science and technology are ordered to man, from whom they take their origin and development; hence they find in the person and in his moral values both evidence of their purpose and awareness of their limits.

***Science is data, theory and application. Morals are a code of conduct held to be authoritative in matters of right and wrong.

In essence, morals are a ever-changing human philosophy. You will view an Islamic suicide-bomber as immoral. An Islamic suicide bomber would view you as “decadent and immoral.” Now dependent upon the religion you follow, the morals change dramatically.

On the other hand, scientific facts are true no matter where in the world they are. Scientific fact is not bound by religion, race, tradition, nor geographic location. Seems to me that these are mutually exclusive. ***


It says something about the power of lies portrayed as truth.
If the idea is a misrepresentation of the truth, many things can be destroyed.
Even with a good intent faith, property and intellect can be destroyed. Remember the Mars Climate Orbiter? Based upon truth being miscommunicated, it was destroyed.

Now based upon the evil of their intent, history is full of people who promote truth as lies. I am talking about truth in general so that you will understand based upon your username.
What is the value of truth? Does it have value to you?

If I strongly state that it is a fact that drinking seawater is healthy I can destroy the faith of a person that they shouldn’t. Eventually a person who doesn’t have the time to investigate and is easily led astray will suffer from the lie. This actually happened with some people stranded at sea.

We all have faith in science, the future, existence, etc… And to destroy the faith of someone based on lies is wrong and should be always denounced. If I keep telling my kids there is no tomorrow I can destroy their faith in tomorrow and malform their outlook on life.
That is sad.

From an atheistic viewpoint I do not blame you as there is absolutely no positive viewpoint of the Vatican from a non-catholic viewpoint. You will never have a positive view or trustful view of the Vatican if you don’t believe in Catholic good will.
So that can be discussed in another thread if you like, as there never is an positive portrayal of the Vatican from an atheistic standpoint.

I would be a little more sceptical of some viewpoints if I were you, as sometimes things are not always what they seem. Copernicus introduced Heliocentrism, not Galileo and dedicated De revolutionibus orbium coelestium to Pope Paul III. Galileo was in trouble for disrespect, not for his theory. Respect was taken a lot more seriously in the old days.



Your kitchen cupboards likely contain many things that are poisonous to your children. Do you not prohibit your children from going in those cabinets, to keep them from being poisoned? What could they possibly gain from being allowed to play in those cupboards?

The Church knows what is good for us spiritually. Like any child, we must listen to our Mother. This seems foreign to us post-enlightenment “free-thinkers.” But obedience does not equal blind ignorance.


He may also be here to annoy us. I think he may be trolling:tsktsk: :whistle:


Please stay on topic or, according to forum rules, I will have to close the thread. Take any side discussions to the appropriate fora. Thank you all.


Okay, that was a strange example. Nevertheless, Catholig was siting a specific example, that of intellectual property, or ideas, written and published in books, banned by the Church for heresy and blasphemy. I will grant your point if you can site such a book, banned by the Church, that is a misrepresentation of the truth, rather than a book that was banned simply because it conflicted with accepted Church dogma.

Well, truth has value to all human beings, regardless of faith, creed or color, wouldn’t you agree? As for being an Atheist, why do you think that would have any affect on my sense of right and wrong (morals) or my sense of truth (ethics) nor my acceptance of fact (science)?

As for promoting lies as truth? Look closely at Church history (and I do NOT single out the Catholic faith, nor the Christians, NOR the Islamic faith, but ORGANIZED religion as a whole.) You will find your answer there.

First you have the “theory” that drinking seawater is healthy. But you have to prove this in order for me and the rest of the world to accept it as such (fact.) I can state that eating salt will make you lose weight, but YOU would not believe me until I proved it to you.

“Eventually a person who doesn’t have the time to investigate and is easily led astray will suffer from the lie.”

As good a description of the faithful as I have heard.

Denounced, yes. Banned, no. No idea should be banned due to the beliefs of a single body, no matter what their intent. If we had allowed this to happen, then we would still be believing that the earth is flat, instead of round (a “theory” that was “denounced” by many in its time.

I believe in the goodwill of ALL humankind. I do not, as it has proven time and time again, of ANY organized religion’s ability to look out for my best interest. The Vatican is not the only religious body to lie to the faithful in order to cover their sins. Church leaders are not divine in any sense of the word. They are men.

Men + unlimited power = the ability to do great harm.

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