The Catholic Church Against the Bible?
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 facts:
The Council of Toulouse (1229 AD) forbade the laity to possess or read the vernacular translation of the Bible. The papal church leaders ruled: “We prohibit the permission of the books of the Old and New Testament to laymen, except perhaps they might desire to have the Psalter, or some Breviary for the divine service, or the Hours of the blessed Virgin Mary, for devotion; expressly forbidding their having the other parts of the Bible translated into the vulgar tongue” (Pierre Allix, Ecclesiastical History of Ancient Churches of the Albigenses, 1821, p. 213).
The Roman Catholic Council of Tarragona (1234 AD) 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).
Pope Pius VII (1800-1823) in 1816, opposed the Bible society in Poland and stated that the distribution of Scripture was breaking down “the very foundations of religion” and was “eminently dangerous to souls.” He said, “The Holy Scriptures, when circulated in the vulgar tongue, have, through the temerity of men, produced more harm than benefit.”
Pope Leo XII (1823-1829), on May 5, 1824, battled against the biblical societies with an encyclical letter addressed to all the bishops of the Catholic world. There, he called the Protestant Bible the “Gospel of the Devil.” He said that “if the sacred Scriptures be everywhere indiscriminately published, more evil than advantage will arise.” And in 1825, Leo ordered that the decrees of the Council of Trent be enforced against distribution of Scriptures.
Pius VIII (1829-1830), on May 24, 1829, opposed the biblical societies in an encyclical letter published.
Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846), on May 8, 1844, railed against the publication, distribution, reading, and possession of books of the holy Scriptures translated into the vulgar tongue in an encyclical letter.
Pius IX (1846-1878), on December 8, 1864, issued an encyclical a Syllabus of Errors, in which he condemned Bible societies, along with Communism, secret societies, and other evils.
Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) 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).
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 stated: “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).
The following is a testimony about the conditions that existed in the city of Rome as late as the mid 19th century: “The Bible in Rome is a strange and rare book. The only edition of it authorized to be sold here, is in fifteen large volumes, which are filled with Popish commentaries. Of course none but the rich can purchase a copy of the sacred Scriptures. Indeed very few of the common people know what we mean by the Bible” (J.A. Clark, Protestant Episcopal Church of St. Andrew, Philadelphia, in a letter to his congregation, dated from Rome, March 24, 1838; reprinted by Charles Elliott, Delineation of Roman Catholicism, 1851, p. 23).
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.