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Bad Books Should Be Forbidden

One significant act of Paul VI was to abolish the Index of Forbidden Books in the name of adapting the Church to the modern mentality. This measure only served to help spread error and evil in the minds of countless Catholics.  It seems opportune to remind our readers of the wise behavior of the Church before that abolition. It is justified and encouraged by Pope Gregory XVI.

Pope Gregory XVI

The Church has always taken action to destroy the plague of bad books. This was true even in apostolic times for we read that the Apostles themselves burned a large number of books. [Acts 19] It may suffice to consult the laws of the Fifth Council of the Lateran on this matter and the Constitution which Leo X published afterwards to prevent "that which has been discovered wisely for the increase of the faith and the spread of useful arts be directed to the contrary use and work harm for the salvation of the faithful." [5th session, 10]

This also was of great concern to the Fathers of Trent, who applied a remedy against this great evil by publishing that wholesome decree concerning the Index of books which contain false doctrine. [sessions 18, 25]

"We must fight valiantly," Clement XIII says in an encyclical letter about the banning of bad books, "as much as the matter itself demands and must exterminate the deadly poison of so many books; for never will the material for error be withdrawn, unless the criminal sources of depravity perish in flames."[Encyclical Christianae, Nov. 25, 1766]

Thus it is evident that this Holy See has always striven, throughout the ages, to condemn and to remove suspect and harmful books. The teaching of those who reject the censure of books as too heavy and onerous a burden causes immense harm to the Catholic people and to this See. They are even so depraved as to affirm that it is contrary to the principles of law, and they deny the Church the right to decree and to maintain it.

(Gregory XVI Mirari vos, Papal Encyclical online)

Posted September 12, 2009

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