The Roman Catholic Church publicly condemned the reading of the Bible in the language of the common people from the 1200s to the 1800s, and even persecuted those who had copies of the Scriptures in their possession. Note these historical statements:
At the Council of Toulouse (1229 A.D), papal church leaders ruled: “We prohibit laymen possessing copies of the Old and New Testament … We forbid them most severely to have the above books in the popular vernacular.” “‘The lords of the districts shall carefully seek out the heretics in dwellings, hovels, and forests, and even their underground retreats shall be entirely wiped out.” Pope Gregory IX, Council Tolosanum, 1229 A.D.
The Roman Catholic Council of Tarragona also ruled that: “No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments in the Romance language, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days after the promulgation of this decree, so that they may be burned.” D. Lortsch, Histoire de la Bible en France, 1910, p. 14.
The Council of Trent (1545-1564) placed the Bible on its list of prohibited books, and forbade any person to read the Bible without a license from a Roman Catholic Church bishop or inquisitor. The Council added these words: “That if any one shall dare to read or keep in his possession that book, without such a license, he shall not receive absolution till he has given it up to his ordinary.”
“Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular (in the common language of the people, D.R.) there will by reasons of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good…” Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, p. 274.
J.A. Wylie, an authority on Romanism in the Reformation era, dedicated two chapters of his book The Papacy; Its History, Dogmas, Genius, and Prospects (London: Hamilton Adams, 1888) to Rome’s attitude toward the Bible. Wylie states: “The Latin Vulgate is the authorized standard in the Church of Rome, and that to the disparagement of the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. These are omitted in the decree [by the Council of Trent], and a translation is substituted. All Protestant translations, such as our authorized English version, Luther’s translation, &c. are prohibited” The Papacy; Its History, Dogmas, Genius, and Prospects, p. 181.
Pope Pius VII (1800-1823) denounced Bible Societies and expressed shock at the circulation of the Scriptures. This Pope declared, “It is evidence from experience, that the holy Scriptures, when circulated in the vulgar tongue, have, through the temerity of men, produced more harm than benefit.”
Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) railed: “against the publication, distribution, reading, and possession of books of the holy Scriptures translated into the vulgar tongue.”
Pope Leo XII called the Protestant Bible the “Gospel of the Devil” in an encyclical letter of 1824. In January 1850, he also condemned Bible Societies and admitted the fact that the distribution of Scripture has “long been condemned by the holy chair.”
Pope Leo XIII declared, “As it has been clearly shown by experience that, if the holy Bible in the vernacular is generally permitted without any distinction, more harm than utility is thereby caused…” Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII, pp. 412-413.
Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.
In His service,
The contents of this article and website are not intended to be against any individual. There are many priests and faithful believers in Roman Catholicism who serve God to the best of their knowledge and are seen by God as His children. The information contained herein is directed only towards the Roman Catholic religio-political system which has reigned in varying degrees of power for nearly two millennia. This system has established an increasing number of doctrines and statements that directly go against the Bible.
It is our purpose to lay the clear Word of God before you, the truth-seeking reader, to decide for yourself what is truth and what is error. If you find anything here contrary to the Bible, do not accept it. But if you desire to seek for Truth as for hidden treasure, and find herein something of that quality and feel that the Holy Spirit is revealing Truth to you, please make all haste to accept it.