Many times Traditionalists will hear about The Index of Forbidden Books (hereinafter "The Index"), without really understanding what it was and how it operated. Holy Mother Church, always solicitous for the eternal welfare of Her members, would ban evil books under pain of sin to prevent the corruption of faith and morals. Montini ("Pope" Paul VI) would abolish The Index on June 14, 1966. The purpose of this post is to set forth the purpose and history of The Index, as well as explaining how books and authors were placed on it. The Modernist reaction against it will also be explained.
(The information for this post was taken from theologian Betten, The Roman Index of Forbidden Books , and librarian/historian Burke, What is The Index? , as well as some minor authorities regarding the history, purpose and workings behind The Index. I condensed the information, and I take no credit for any of it.---Introibo).
The History of The Index
That the Church has the right to legislate on the publication and use of all books that touch on questions of faith and morals, must be evident to every Traditionalist Catholic. It is a truth clearly contained in the words of Christ to St. Peter: "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep," (St. John 21) and in the duty imposed on the Apostles of "teaching the faithful to observe all, whatsoever I have commanded you." (St. Matthew 28:20). The fact that general councils as well as many popes have issued laws and decrees regarding books, is sufficient evidence of their power and of their commission to do this. This very fact must also convince us that the observation of these laws must be salutary and conducive to the welfare of the Church at large and of the individual Catholic. The inventions, discoveries and progress of our times can introduce no change in this respect. The human mind is still as prone to err and as much subject to the persuasive influence of books as it ever was. Good books are as useful today as they were in olden times, and objectionable writings have the same deplorable effects they had a thousand years ago.
Nor can the Church, possessing the power to watch over our reading, neglect to make use of this power when the salvation of souls calls for its exercise. Bad literature is one of the worst enemies of mankind. The Church can never allow it to corrupt the hearts of her children or to undermine the foundation of their faith, without at least raising a warning voice.
It is against this acknowledgement of the Church's power and duty to censor reading that The Index must be considered. The first list of forbidden books was issued in the beginning of the fifth century. In 405, Pope Innocent I sent to the Bishop of Toulouse the authentic books of the Bible and listed a number of apocryphal documents that were condemned. The nascent Church was already most concerned with protecting the integrity of Her teachings against heresies. A decree issued by Pope Gelasius in 496, and published at a council in Rome, has been described by many clerics as the first "Roman Index of Forbidden Books."
In 1467, Pope Innocent VIII decreed that all books must be submitted to the local Church authorities for examination and permission before being issued for general reading. The purpose of this decree was to prevent publication of any works presenting an erroneous interpretation of Catholic doctrine. This was the beginning of the Nihil Obstat ("nothing stands in the way"), and Imprimatur ("it may be printed") followed by the name of the local Ordinary granting permission. It is not necessary that the theologian checking the work, or the Bishop, need to agree with the opinions expressed, only that there is contained therein no errors against faith and/or morals.
A similar decree to Pope Innocent was issued by Pope Leo X at the Fifth Lateran Council on May 4, 1515, and addressed to the entire world. It was the first general decree of supervisory censorship binding the whole Church. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) appointed a committee to study Church control of literature. A list of ten general rules was submitted to the final session of the Council, which was approved for judging all publications. It formed a complete and developed legislation concerning permitting books to be published, and also for condemning books already in circulation. Trent's decree remained in effect for the next 300 years.
The first catalogue of forbidden books to carry the term Index in its title, was issued by Pope Pius IV. This was followed by a new Index in 1564, the work of Trent. Besides proscribed works, that Index contained the Tridentine rules for judging books, and thereby served as a guide to the average reader when assessing a publication not condemned. In 1571, Pope St. Pius V established the Congregation of the Index which had the duty to publish new editions of The Index, and to rule upon those works referred to it for a final decision.
In 1897, Pope Leo XIII revised the Tridentine rules and incorporated them into a revised Index of Forbidden Books, published in 1900. Pope St. Pius X called for a complete codification and reformation of canon law in 1904, but it would be his successor, Pope Benedict XV who would oversee the completion of the project and he promulgated the new Code of Canon Law on May 27, 1917, with an effective date of May 19, 1918. That same year of promulgation, Pope Benedict merged the Congregation of the Index as a subdivision of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, which has the pope as Prefect. The 1917 Code has Canons 1384 through 1405 dealing with the condemnation of books. This Index remained until the Vatican II sect's Montini "abolished" it in 1964.
Books Prohibited to Catholics under The Index
The following classes of publications are forbidden to be read by Catholics.
- of the Bible that do not have Church approval, or are published by non-Catholics
- dealing with new apparitions, visions, prophesies, or introducing new forms of devotion
- altering liturgical works approved by the Holy See
- spreading a knowledge of spurious indulgences, or which have been condemned or or revoked by the Holy See
- containing any pictures, no matter how printed, of Our Lord, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, angels, saints, or other servants of God, which are not in harmony with the spirit and decrees of the Church
- of any writers defending or championing heresy or schism
- which avowedly attack religion and good morals
- of any non-Catholic writers which professedly treat of religion, unless it is certain they contain nothing contrary to the Catholic faith
- attacking or pouring ridicule on any Catholic dogma
- defending errors condemned by the Holy See
- tending to diminish the fervor of worship
- seeking to undermine ecclesiastical discipline
- having the aim of insulting the hierarchy or denigrating the clerical or religious state of life
- teaching or fostering any kind of superstition, fortunetelling, divination, magick, communication with spirits of the dead, and all other similar practices
- representing Freemasonry and secret societies as useful and not detrimental to both Church and State
- discussing, describing, or teaching impure or obscene matters, or which defend the lawfulness of dueling, suicide, or divorce
The term "books" includes magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets.
The Method of Examining Books
This method was outlined by Pope Benedict XIV in 1753 in his bull, Sollicita ac Provida for the Holy Office and the then existing Congregation of the Index. Since 1917, the Holy Office proceeds in the following way:
There is regularly a session on Monday comprising only those members of the Congregation who are not Cardinals, in order to deliberate about the matters to be proposed to the latter. The Cardinals hold their meeting on Wednesday, and in this session the final step is decided upon. The decree of the Cardinals must still be reported to the Pope, without whose consent no verdict of any Congregation may be published. A book may be denounced to the Holy Office by anyone, but usually it takes the denunciation of a Bishop to merit consideration.
Now, when there is the question of the condemnation of a book, it is first handed to one of the consultors (always an approved theologian), who must study and examine it carefully. He must draw up a detailed report, noting exactly the passages which he finds objectionable, and pointing out redeeming features. The book with his report next goes to the other consultors, so that each one can satisfy himself whether the first examiner's view is well founded, and has an opportunity to formulate his own judgment. The matter is then proposed in one of the Monday sessions and publicly discussed. A vote is taken as to the step to be recommended to the Cardinals. Then the book together with the first report, the notes of other consultors, and the vote arrived at in the preliminary Monday session, goes to the Cardinals, who in the Wednesday session will give their final verdict. Lastly, the matter is laid before the Pope for his sanction.
This is an excellent method. A book is examined at least three times, before a verdict is reached, and a large number of picked scholars participate in the proceedings, each of whom has taken an oath never to allow himself to be swayed by sympathy or antipathy, and to have nothing in view but the welfare of souls.
It has been customary to give the verdict in one of these four technical phrases: Damnetur, "condemned"; dimittatur, "dismissed"; donec corrigatur, "forbidden until amended"; res dilata, "the case is postponed." The verdict donec corrigatur can of course be given only when a book admits of correction. If it is thoroughly bad (if written, for example, to praise Freemasonry or for maligning Catholic bishops), a donec corrigatur would have no meaning.
If the author is a Catholic, he must be informed before the decree is published. If but a few copies of the book have been sold, and the author promises either to suppress it, or to issue an amended edition, if possible, the decree is not published. However, even when this cannot be prevented, e. g., when a whole edition is already in circulation, credit is given to the author in the decree itself for declaring his submission, by adding the words: auctor laudabiliter se subjecit, "the author has praiseworthily submitted."
Great care is taken to have all books examined by men who are not only well versed in the subject matter, but who also understand thoroughly the language in which they happen to be written. Nor does the Congregation in important cases confine itself to its regular consultors; whenever it seems advisable, the services of other competent critics are enlisted.
All the members of the Congregation are bound by oath to keep absolute secrecy with regard to every detail of the official transactions, no matter whether a book under discussion is finally condemned or not. By this means each feels more free in giving his opinion, and the reputation of the author is spared as long and as much as possible. The pope has full and final say as to the pronouncement of the Holy Office.
Penalties and Permission
According to the theologians, the reading of a forbidden book, or part of it, is a mortal sin. The selection of the books on which our souls feed is a matter of no small importance. True, the Church is the kindest of Mothers; but she is also the wisest. To direct the consciences of Her children and "to restrain them from the reading of bad books that are poison to the soul," is the great object of Her legislation.
Objection: "I am a Catholic. I live up to my religion and go regularly to the sacraments. I have had a good Catholic education and hear a sermon every Sunday. I do not see why I should be afraid to read any book, even if it belonged to those forbidden by the Index."
Reply: You may do so; but you may fare in consequence as David fared—David who was a saint and yet committed adultery and murder. If you read a forbidden book without permission, you are as good a Catholic as one who eats meat on Friday. The object of the law of abstinence is to make sure that every Christian performs at least a certain minimum of penance. Now there are saintly persons who, in imitation of our crucified Savior, do more penance on ordinary days than the average Catholic does by abstaining from meat on twenty or more Fridays; and yet they are not exempted from the law of abstinence and would be the last to claim such an exemption.
Similarly the object of the Index is to make sure that every Christian avoids at least the worst books. By obeying its laws we declare that our standpoint is that of the Church of God. This result cannot be obtained unless the prohibition is made universal, exempting no one, no matter how pious or learned he may be. Therefore, all Christians, good and bad, priests, religious and lay people, students and professors, unless they have a dispensation, are bound by the ecclesiastical laws regarding books. By asking for a dispensation we implicitly acknowledge and approve of the official position of the Church on the subject of wicked books, and, so far as in us lies, ratify and sanction the reasons which lead to their condemnation.
Permission to read forbidden books. Permission to read a forbidden book, for an ample reason (study, to refute error, for a course in college, etc.) may be obtained from the local Ordinary, the Holy Office, or the pope.
Presumptive permission. If someone should find himself in a position where reading a forbidden book is necessary, but recourse cannot be had to the ecclesiastical authorities (e.g., a judge called upon to evaluate such a book in secular court), such individuals may presume permission to read it. There is never justification for any reading that may be an impulse to serious sin. What may be an impulse for one person may not be so for another. If a reader knows from experience that reading a certain kind of book will cause him to doubt the faith, he must not read it, even with permission granted. (In our time of sedevacante, with no recourse to proper authority, this presumptive permission, and our good judgement, is what obtains.---Introibo).
The Vatican II sect and The Index
The Conciliar document on The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, or Gaudium et Spes, makes reference to the old confrontational model of the Church in regards to culture when it admits that there have been «difficulties» in the way of harmonizing culture with Christian thought...The other Conciliar document, which precipitated the changing of the Church’s practice of censorship, was Dignitatis Humanae or the Declaration on Religious Liberty. This document articulated he role of the individual conscience of each person. By giving more responsibility to the individual Catholic to think for oneself, this document exalted the role of the well-informed conscience.
The human conscience is seen as a sanctuary of the human person that cannot be violated by coercion or compulsion. Human rights and religious freedom are also described in a renewed way by this declaration. A community of believers with well-formed Christian consciences, acute moral sensibilities, and intense commitment to the Gospel eliminates the need for the Church’s role in censorship. The Declaration proclaims that truth can impose itself on the human mind only in virtue of its own truth, which wins over the mind with both gentleness and power. Therefore, in the
spirit of the Council, the Church ceased its activities in censorship of literature and the arts, most dramatically by abolishing the Index of Forbidden Books in 1966. (See Aurelie Hagstrom, The Catholic Church and Censorship in Literature, Books, Drama, and Film, ANALYTIC TEACHING Vol. 23, No 2; Emphasis mine).
This is pure Vatican II claptrap. The idea of conscience is tainted by the Pelagian error. Gaudium et Spes section l6 reads:
In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor. In fidelity to conscience, Christians are joined with the rest of men in the search for truth, and for the genuine solution to the numerous problems which arise in the life of individuals from social relationships. Hence the more that a correct conscience holds sway, the more persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and strive to be guided by the objective norms of morality.
The conciliar text specifies that, when "right conscience" leads him, Man moves away from "blind choice." However, in order to resist the "blind choice" of the passions and temptations, mustn't people be aided by Grace? That's what was always the Catholic truth, founded on Tradition and Scripture: without grace, without the help of the Holy Ghost, people do not come to observe either natural or revealed morality. The Index was there to induce people, under pain of mortal sin, to know what was a danger and to stay away. The Church also gave Grace from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Sacraments, to live up to the prohibitions of The Index.
That all sects must be given equal status in society, and no speech prohibited, are Modernist and Masonic principles. The Index was a reminder that Error has no rights--no right to exist, let alone be published. That's why the Vatican II sect needed it abolished. They care not for the salvation of souls or the truth.
The Index was a reminder of the power of reading. St. Ignatius Loyola was converted to a devout life after reading The Bible and the lives of the saints. St. Francis de Sales, the great and learned Bishop of Geneva, had obtained permission to read the books of heretics in order to refute them, and he is careful to let his readers know the fact, at the same time thanking God, that his soul had suffered no harm in so great a danger. In this time of Great Apostasy, we must be more vigilant than ever as to what we read, so as to save our soul. There's a time-honored aphorism which states, "What goes into a mind comes out in a life."
In her message from La Salette, the Most Holy Virgin Mary announced that bad books will abound on Earth. This is especially true today and things are worse since the advent of the internet. The V2 sect does not warn its followers against bad books and websites but lets them judge for themselves what is good. What a mistake ! I saw New Age books at my parish church before I left the V2 sect. It's a good example of what happens when you let people judge for themselves the value of what they read or watch on the web.ReplyDelete
Yes, books of New Agers, Protestants, pagans, etc. are all allowed by the V2 sect. Go back and put up a copy or two of the "Ottaviani Intervention" and see how they get banned almost instantly! Anything goes there except the truth.
Can you imagine what it would be like if the Church was like it was in its heyday? There would not just be a list of forbidden books but a list of forbidden movies, websites, news channels, social media outlets etc. How many souls are lost on account of all these things?ReplyDelete
What's ironic is the Vatican II documents deserve to be on the index and by removing it Paul VI spared its perverse doctrine from being censored.
"These most crafty enemies (devils/demons) have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered."
This is a great topic and very little talked about. Thank you.
This will not prevent Montini and the other false popes from being condemned by a true Pope.Delete
It would be an Index so massive, it would be in hundreds of volumes!
Lee, thank you for sharing the excerpt from the Pope Leo XIII prayer to St. Michael. It is perfectly fitting that Vatican II removed the index - as you wrote, it would be on the list.Delete
Suggestions for the Banned Movie List (by Poni):ReplyDelete
1: Anything by Ralph Bakshi (except his LOTR version)
3: The Shinning
4: Eyes Wide Shut
Life of Brian & Last Temptation of Christ
Evangerion & Nanatsu No Taizai
13 Reasons Why
You have a great list! The titles could go on and on...!
Thank you for sharing this information, Introibo. Great aphorism at the end! We are responsible for guarding the gates to our minds. God bless.ReplyDelete
Thank you, my friend! We can never be too careful as to what we read!
Just of the subject,what good books do you suggest one read on the subject of courtship Intriobo?Do you believe that God can will and plan that a man and woman are to meet and will be married.Do you personally know of such marriages that you just know these two were to married.Do you believe in the theory,you know and when you know that they are the one.Your comments please.Thank you and God bless.ClareReplyDelete
The best book on marraige I've read was from my good friend, Fr. Paul Wickens (d. 2004) entitled, "Husband and Wife: The Joys, Sorrows and Glories of Married Life" published in 1999. Fr. was ordained in 1955 and left the Vatican II sect, regaining his Catholic Faith in 1989. His counsel was one of a wise and holy priest with many years preparing couples for marriage and giving marriage advice. There are still used copies that can be obtained on Amazon.
I know that everything takes place for a reason--even when we don't know this side of the grave what the reason could possibly be. God is in control. I don't know if there are men and women "meant" to be married, in the sense that it is predestined by God. If you have a vocation to be married, God could bring several marriageable people into your life, but it's up to you both to decide to join in matrimony.
Our Lady of Fatima is said to have remarked that "Many marriages today  are not pleasing to God." I believe it, and that was over 100 years ago. People marry for the wrong reasons (e.g., money, prestige, family pressure, to "fit in with others" etc.). Many couples see marriage as not being permanent, and if they go through a hard time, they can always get an easy "no-fault" divorce and an even easier V2 sect "annulment" instead of working things out.
Children are seen as a burden instead of a blessing, with procreation no loner considered the primary purpose of marriage. Consideration for a prospective partner's religion is largely ignored.
Most of my friends made good choices in a spouse; two did not. One friend is happily single and said he believes he is called to that state by God. In my opinion, (and that's all it is, my personal opinion) that if you stay close to God, and you believe you have a vocation to marriage, He will let you know when you have someone who would make a good partner. what happens next is up to both you and the other (is he/she close to God and want marriage?). This is what I believe happened in the case of myself and my wife. We are very happily married!
I will pray that God will guide you in the choice of your vocation!
I hope this helped!
Can you please explain in more detail Introibo God will let you know when you have someone who would make a good partner.Thank youDelete
Should you meet a godly man who believes as you do and with whom you could see yourself happily married, that (in my opinion) is a sign that God is letting you know it would be a good marriage.
Have been reading some info that Cardinal Spellman had been a active sodomite for many years and had relations with a number of priests in the Archdiocese of NY.Have you heard this before?There is info about some of this on the Wikipedia article online.Your comments please.
From what I have read else where Cardinal Spellman died with a broken heart after seeing the destruction of the Mass and liturgy.
I'm sure you didn't mean any harm but please don't disseminate this calumny.Delete
Introibo has stated on a number of occasions that Cdl. Spellman had many flaws (probably the most serious would be his cowardice in opposing the wicked deforms of Vatican II - if I remember correctly he would indeed help Fr. DePauw but did not defend that great priest publicly) but he was NOT guilty of unnatural vice. Better to pray for the repose of Cdl. Spellman's soul than seek sensationalist and often libelous information.
Thank you for your comment.Yes,I didn't mean any harm.I am new to this blog so I didn't know about the number of occasions that Introibo made comments about Cardinal Spellman.
Introibo,do you have the book The Cardinal Spellman story published before Vatican Two.
Joanna is correct as to Card. Spellman and my defense of him via direct personal knowledge of Fr. DePauw. I have that book, published on the eve of the Robber Council in 1962. It's been a good twenty years (at least) since I read it and don't remember much.
Dear Anonymous 3:10,Delete
thank you for your kind response. My first comment sounded rude, harsh and patronizing and I'm truly sorry for that.
I hope you stay for good at Introibos' blog and ask any questions you'd like to.
God Bless You,
I know this comment is not going to be published but I don't care. I am neither a believer nor do I have any relationship with the Church. I am surprised to see what one of you says about Cardinal Spellman being denied. If you want to believe that it was an exemplary prelate who ordained priests McCarrick and O'Brien, both cardinals of what you call "sect of VII" and both sodomites, that's fine with me. If you pretend to defend that in the Church there were no sodomites until the evil Vatican II, that seems very good to me - like Cardinal Newman, who of course was not. But that is an illusion. I already realized a long time ago what is happening.ReplyDelete
I don't know anything about Cardinal Spellman because I'm Spanish but I do make a point: Theodore McCarrick hasn't been a cardinal for years, he's not even a priest because he was secularized.Delete
The first thing is true, but I don't know if the blog would agree with you because the secularizations carried out by the "Church of Vatican II" would not be valid. I think.Delete
I have no delusions that sodomites never existed in the Church prior to Vatican II. They exist in a greater degree than ever in the Vatican II sect because they eliminated same-sex attraction as a disqualification for the priesthood in 1969 and openly celebrate perversion with "gay masses" and such.
We must be careful, however, to condemn all. Everyone is entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Card. Spellman was innocent, and I know this from those who interacted with him personally. The fact that he ordained some sodomites doesn't mean he was one, unless it can be shown that he KNEW BEFOREHAND and ordained them anyway.
Many sodomites do a great job of hiding their perversion to get to where they want to be. I'm a lawyer and graduated law school with several lawyers now disbarred. Do we blame the law school for letting them in? The Committee on Fitness and Character for approving them? One of them was a good man who became corrupted after. Some put up a good front. You try to weed out as many as you can, but some make it through nevertheless.
I am under no illusions.
As for the article, I appreciate it because it has been very interesting.ReplyDelete
Thank you, my friend!
It's so Godless unhealthy unnatural + dystopian,if this current trajectory persists,we traditional Catholics will be on the forbidden Index of the global partnership for an inclusive diverse progressive LGTBQ one global governance committee. (Or some such Luciferin drivel)ReplyDelete
Off subject, sort of, heretic believes divorce with re-marriage is OK!!!ReplyDelete
Benns doesn't even understand the basics of theology. She gets SO MUCH WRONG, it doesn't surprise me in the least.
Well, she is part Jew....so there's that. And we all know what that usually means.Delete
Greetings Introibo, I have not yet read the about post; however, I did just finish listening to an interview of yours with Kevin Davis about Fr. Gommar DePaul. Wow, knot my socks off.ReplyDelete
Your story alone was a miracle and inspiring! I remember feeling the same way when my parents found and had us attend the Tridentine Mass. I wasn't catechized in the true sacraments, and I didn't really understand what was going on, but I knew I was home. Once I had found, "The most beautiful thing this side of heaven, " as Fr. Faber explained, I was never going to anything else. Yes, that was the beginning of my journey. I am still learning about all that has happened. Like Kevin said, there is information out there about Archbishop Thuc and Archbishop Lefevre, but not about Fr. Depauw. Thank you for doing this interview! In His Heart, C
Thank you, my friend! Always a pleasure to talk about Fr. DePauw.
Is there a list of the apocriphal books that is in the Index and what is not? Or, all the apocriphal is forbidden?
Thanks you for the great work you do here.