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Title page of Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Venice 1564).

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum ("List of Prohibited Books") was a list of publications prohibited by the Roman Catholic Church. It was abolished on 14 June 1966 by Pope Paul VI.[1]

A first version (the Pauline Index) was promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559, and a revised and somewhat relaxed form (the Tridentine Index) was authorized at the Council of Trent. The promulgation of the Index marked the "turning-point in the freedom of enquiry" in the Catholic world.[2]

The avowed aim of the list was to protect the faith and morals of the faithful by preventing the reading of immoral books or works containing theological errors, although it also contained scientific works by leading astronomers such as Johannes Kepler. The various editions also contained the rules of the Church relating to the reading, selling and censorship of books. Manuscripts that passed inspection by official readers were printed with nihil obstat ("nothing forbids") or Imprimatur ("let it be printed") on the title page.

However, some of the scientific works on the Index (e.g. on the foundations of cosmology) are now routinely taught at Catholic universities worldwide. Giordano Bruno, whose works were on the Index, now has a monument in Rome at the place where he was burned alive at the stake. The writings of Maria Valtorta that were on the Index have since received an imprimatur from a Roman Catholic bishop.[3] Mary Faustina Kowalska, who was on the Index, has since been declared a saint.[4][5] The developments since the abolition of the Index signify "the loss of relevance of the Index in the 21st century."[6]

Contents

History

Early indices (1529—1571)

The first list of the kind was not published in Rome, but in Roman Catholic Netherlands (1529). Venice (1543) and Paris (1551, under the terms of the Edict of Châteaubriant) followed this example. By mid-century, in the tense atmosphere of wars of religion in Germany and France, both Protestant and Catholic authorities reasoned that only control of the press coordinated between Church and State could prevent the spread of heresy. [7] The first Roman Index, produced in 1559 under the direction of Pope Paul IV (1555-1559), banned the entire works of some 550 authors in addition to the individual proscribed titles:[8] "The Pauline Index felt that the religious convictions of an author contaminated all his writing."[7] The work of the censors was considered too severe and met with much opposition even in Catholic intellectual circles; after the Council of Trent had authorised a revised list prepared under Pope Pius IV, the so-called Tridentine Index was promulgated in 1564; it remained the basis of all later lists until Pope Leo XIII, in 1897, published his Index Leonianus. Until 1571 the lists were the work of the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church, later called the Holy Office, and since 1965 called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The blacklisting of some Protestant scholars even when writing on subjects a modern reader would consider outside the realm of dogma meant that obedient Catholic thinkers were denied access to the botanist Conrad Gesner's Historiae animalium or the botanical works of Otto Brunfels, those of the medical scholar Janus Cornarius, to Christoph Hegendorff or Johann Oldendorp on the theory of law, Protestant geographers and cosmographers like Jacob Ziegler or Sebastian Münster, as well as anything by Protestant theologians like Luther, Calvin or Philipp Melancthon.[9] Among the more counter-intuitive inclusions was the Libri Carolini, a theological work from the 9th century court of Charlemagne, which had only survived in a manuscript in the Vatican Library, before being printed in the 16th century.

Sacred Congregation of the Index (1571—1917)

In 1571 a special congregation was created, the Sacred Congregation of the Index, which had the specific task to investigate those writings that were denounced in Rome as being not exempt of errors, to update the list of Pope Pius IV regularly and also to make lists of corrections in case a writing was not in itself damnable but only in need of correction and put on the list with a mitigating clause (e.g., donec corrigatur (forbidden if not corrected) or donec expurgetur (forbidden if not purged)).

This sometimes resulted in very long lists of corrections, published in the Index Expurgatorius. Prohibitions made by other congregations (mostly the Holy Office) were simply passed on to the Congregation of the Index, where the final decrees were drafted and made public, after approval of the Pope (who always had the possibility to condemn an author personally—only a few examples, such as Lamennais and Hermes). An update to the Index was made by Pope Leo XIII, in the 1897 apostolic constitution Officiorum ac Munerum, known as the "Index Leonianus".

The Congregation of the Index was merged with the Holy Office in 1917, by the Motu Proprio "Alloquentes Proxime" of Pope Benedict XV; the rules on the reading of books were again reelaborated in the new Codex Iuris Canonici. From 1917 on, the Holy Office (again) took care of the Index.

Holy Office (1917—1966)

The Index was regularly updated until the 1948 edition. This 32nd edition contained 4,000 titles censored for various reasons: heresy, moral deficiency, sexual explicitness, and so on. That some atheists, such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, were not included was due to the general (Tridentine) rule that heretical works (i.e., works that contradict Catholic dogma) are ipso facto forbidden. Some important works are absent simply because nobody bothered to denounce them. Many actions of the congregations were of a definite political content.

Abolition (1966)

On 7 December 1965, Pope Paul VI issued the Motu Proprio "Integrae servandae" that re-constituted the Holy Office as the "Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."[10] The Index was not listed as being a part of the newly-constituted Congregation, leading to questioning whether the Index was a part of the new Congregation. This question was put to Cardinal Ottaviani—Pro-Prefect of the Congregation—who responded in the negative.[11] The Cardinal also indicated in his response that there was going to be a change in the Index soon.

The change was formally announced on 15 June 1966 in the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano by way of a document called a "Notification" dated 14 June 1966.[12] By this document and its promulgation under Pope Paul VI, the Index was formally abolished and lost its legal force.[13] The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ceased publication of the Index as it was no longer enforced as ecclesiastical positive law under the Code of Canon Law.[14] Some sources list the abolition of the Index as the last step in the Timeline of the Inquisition.[15]

Abolition controversy

The Notification of 14 June 1966 does not mention the words "abrogate" or "abolish" in relation to the Index of Forbidden Books. Rather, it states that the Index retains "its moral force" (suum vigorem moralem).[16] What this means is not formally defined by the Vatican and at least one theologian (Hans Küng) has acknowledged the ambiguity behind the wording.[17] The official Latin text as given on the Vatican's web site reads, "Notificatio de Indicis librorum prohibitorum conditione" ("Notification on the condition of the Index of Forbidden Books").[18] The Italian on the same page reads, "Notificazione riguardante l’abolizione dell’Indice dei libri" ("Notification regarding the abolition of the Index of books"). There is no reasoning given for this difference between the Latin and Italian texts. The fact that the Latin language is the official language of the Catholic Church furthers the question as to which text is authoritative.[19][20]

Scope and impact

Censorship and enforcement

The Index was not simply a reactive work. Roman Catholic authors had the opportunity to defend their writings and could prepare a new edition with the necessary corrections or deletions, either to avoid or to limit a ban. Pre-publication censorship was encouraged.

The effects of the Index were at times felt throughout much of the Roman Catholic world. From Quebec to Poland it was, for many years, very difficult to find copies of banned works, especially outside of major cities. The Index, however, had little effect outside Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland or Bohemia, as it lacked an effective means of enforcement. The inability of the Church in Rome to enforce the banning of works by authors such as Kepler resulted in their availability in northern Europe, allowing Kepler's work to be used as the foundation for Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation, which significantly influenced the formation of modern physics.

Moral continuation

Some theologians argue that the Index is not repudiated nor condemned, despite its abolition. This view of the remaining moral obligation of not circulating or reading those writings was stated by Cardinal Ottaviani in 1966, in the same document - Notification by Congregation for Doctrine of Faith: "This Congregation for Doctrine of Faith (...) reaffirms that its Index retains its moral value (...) in the sense that it is appealing to the conscience of the faithful (...) to be on their guard against written materials that can put faith and good conduct in danger" - Signed Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, June 14, 1966).[21]

Cardinal Ottaviani, who signed the decree to suppress the Index, was one of the most conservative members of the College of Cardinals at the time, and had himself previously arranged for a number of works (including those of Saint Faustina Kowalska) to be placed on the Index soon after Pope John XXIII took office in 1959.

In a letter in January 1985 to the Archbishop of Genoa regarding the book Poem of the Man God, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) also stated that the Index still retains some moral value "for the more unprepared faithful".[22]

Multimedia issues

As its title implies, the Index only dealt with the censorship of printed matter and did not deal with objectionable material in media such as film. As the motion picture industry started to gather momentum in the United States in the 1930s, the Catholic Legion of Decency was formed by American bishops. Its aim was to both warn Catholics about objectionable movies and to impose a form of self-censorship on the movie industry.[23]

The legion wielded significant influence over Hollywood studios and in 2001 was incorporated into the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It continues to issue ratings to date.[24]

Modern day irrelevance

The monument to philosopher Giordano Bruno (who is still on the Index) in the place he was burned alive at the stake, Campo de' Fiori in Rome. The statue is placed so Bruno faces in the direction of the Vatican.

In the twentieth century, the overall number of published books has increased dramatically, so much that a new book of fiction is printed in the United States every thirty minutes.[25] Simultaneously, the standards by which items are judged as moral has shifted by significant margins.[26]

The Index thus includes a very small fraction of the possibly objectionable material (sexual, scientific or theological) that is available in the multimedia world of the 21st century. For instance, while the Index prohibits the works of a few authors such as D. H. Lawrence on the grounds of sexual offensiveness, that number is truly negligible compared to the huge volume of pornography available at the end of the 20th century.[27]

On the scientific front, the material from some of the books on the Index (e.g. basics of astronomy) are routinely taught at most universities (including Catholic universities) in the world. Hence the ideas which formed part of the charges of heresy (along with many other purely religious ones) for which Giordano Bruno was burned alive at the stake in Campo de' Fiori in Rome in the year 1600 now form part of the foundations of modern cosmology[28] Yet, possibly objectionable material on human cloning is not on the Index. The Index has thus lost scientific relevance in the modern world, as the quest for forbidden knowledge has continued.[29]

From a theological perspective, some of the works that were on the Index have since received imprimaturs from Roman Catholic Bishops. E.g. the works of Maria Valtorta that were put on the Index by Cardinal Ottaviani in 1959 now bear the imprimatur of Bishop Roman Danylak, a Canon of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.[30]

Listed works and authors

The Index included a number of authors and intellectuals whose works are widely read today in most leading universities and are now considered as the foundations of science, e.g. Kepler's New Astronomy, his Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, and his World Harmony were quickly placed on the Index after their publication.[31] Other noteworthy intellectuals and religious figures on the Index include Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, André Gide, Immanual Kant, David Hume, Rene Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, Hugo Grotius, and Saint Faustina Kowalska. Charles Darwin's works were notably never included,[32] although a number of works that reconciled evolutionary theory and Catholic theology in ways unacceptable to the Church were included.

These have recently been described as works ".. considered as the foundations of science and literature." The consequent effect on children given a Catholic education from the 1500s to the 1960s must have been considerable.[33]

In one case, a book was added to the Index by the Holy Office during the reign of one Pope after it had reportedly received verbal papal approval from the previous Pope. The book Poem of the Man God received praise from Pope Pius XII's confessor (Augustin Bea), and was presented to Pius XII during a special audience in 1948 in which he reportedly approved it, and the Servite priests present signed an affidavit to that effect.[34] Ten years later, however, the book was added to the Index.[35][36][37][38]

Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf was never put on the Index, even though Hitler was the target of the Papal Bull Mit Brennender Sorge, while the works of other less famous authors, including at least one saint (St. Faustina Kowalska), were.[39][40] Cardinal Ottaviani remarked in an April 1966 interview with L'Osservatore della Domenica that there was too much contemporary literature and the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could not keep up with it.

See also

References

  1. ^ Cambridge University on Index.
  2. ^ Charles B. Schmitt, et al. The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 1991), "Printing and censorship after 1550", p.45ff.
  3. ^ Imprimatur for Maria Valtorta [1]
  4. ^ A Saint despite the vatican National Catholic Reporter-August 30, 2002 also [2]
  5. ^ Vatican Webpage on Faustina Kowalska[3]
  6. ^ Robert Wilson, 1997 Astronomy Through the Ages ISBN 0748407480
  7. ^ a b Schmitt 1991:45.
  8. ^ They included everything by Pietro Aretino, Machiavelli, Erasmus and Rabelais (Schmitt 1991:45).
  9. ^ These authors are instanced by Schmitt 1991.
  10. ^ http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_p-vi_motu-proprio_19651207_integrae-servandae_lt.html
  11. ^ L'Osservatore della Domenica, 24 April 1966, pg. 10.
  12. ^ L'Osservatore Romano, 15 June 1966, Year 106, number 136, page 1
  13. ^ This day in history [4]
  14. ^ Matthew Bunson, 2004, Encyclopedia of Catholic History ISBN 1592760260
  15. ^ Timeline of the Inquisition not rk/trial96/breu/timelisne.htmle
  16. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. 58, 1966, pg. 445.
  17. ^ Hans Küng, My Struggle For Freedom: Memoirs, Continuum Publishing Group, 2004, pg. 432.
  18. ^ http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/doc_dis_index.htm
  19. ^ http://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/latinvernac.HTM
  20. ^ http://www.france24.com/en/20080509-vatican-website-roman-catholic-church-pope-language-latin-internet
  21. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1966, p. 445 (contributor's translation)
  22. ^ The Church and Maria Valtorta [5]
  23. ^ Time Magazine on Legion of Decency [6]
  24. ^ Frank Walsh, 1996 Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry ISBN 0300063733
  25. ^ New York Time: How Many Books are Too Many? July 18 2004 [7]
  26. ^ Our changing morality: a symposium by Freda Kirchwey 1972 ISBN 0405038666 page 236
  27. ^ David Copp and Susan Wendel, 1982 Pornography and Censorship ISBN 0879751827
  28. ^ New Yorker Magazine, August 25, 2008: The Forbidden World [8]
  29. ^ Roger Shattuck 1997 Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography ISBN 0156005514
  30. ^ Maria Valtorta imprimatur [9]
  31. ^ Project Galileo [10]
  32. ^ Rafael Martinez, professor of the philosophy of science at the Santa Croce Pontifical University in Rome, in speech reported on Catholic Ireland net Accessed 26 May 2009
  33. ^ Daily Mail, 28 April 2009, p.48.
  34. ^ http://www.ewtn.com/library/scriptur/valtorta.txt
  35. ^ Valepic [11]
  36. ^ Fr. Berti's annotations to Maria Valtorta's Libro di Azaria (Book of Azaria), Edizioni Pisani, 1972.
  37. ^ L'Osservatore Romano February 27, 1948.
  38. ^ Valtorta Publishing [12]
  39. ^ Vatican opens up secrets of Index of Forbidden Books.
  40. ^ American Magazine http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=3998

External links


The Index Librorum Prohibitorum ("List of Prohibited Books") was a list of publications prohibited by the Catholic Church. The final (20th) edition appeared in 1948, and it was formally abolished on 14 June 1966 by Pope Paul VI.[1][2]

A first version (the Pauline Index) was promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559, and a revised and somewhat relaxed form (the Tridentine Index) was authorized at the Council of Trent. The promulgation of the Index marked the "turning-point in the freedom of enquiry" in the Catholic world.[3]

The avowed aim of the list was to protect the faith and morals of the faithful by preventing the reading of immoral books or works containing theological errors. Books thought to contain such errors included some scientific works by leading astronomers such as Johannes Kepler's Epitome astronomiae Copernicianae, which was on the Index from 1621 to 1835. The various editions of the Index also contained the rules of the Church relating to the reading, selling and pre-emptive censorship of books, including translations of the Bible into the "common tongues".[4]

Canon law still recommends that works concerning sacred Scripture, theology, canon law, church history, and any writings which specially concern religion or good morals, be submitted to the judgement of the local Ordinary.[5] The local Ordinary consults someone whom he considers competent to give a judgement and, if that person gives the nihil obstat ("nothing forbids") the local Ordinary grants the imprimatur ("let it be printed").[6] Members of religious institutes require the imprimi potest (it can be printed) of their major superior to publish books on matters of religion or morals.[7]

Some of the scientific works that were on early editions of the Index (e.g. on heliocentrism) have long been routinely taught at Catholic universities worldwide. Giordano Bruno, whose works were on the Index, now has a monument erected in Rome at the place where he was burned alive at the stake. The writings of Maria Valtorta, which were on the Index and which have still not been given official Church approval, have received the approval of a Roman Catholic bishop, when he was no longer the Ordinary of a diocese.[8][9]

Mary Faustina Kowalska, whose work was on the Index, has since been declared a saint.[10][11] The developments since the abolition of the Index signify "the loss of relevance of the Index in the 21st century."[12]

Contents

Background and history

European restrictions on the right to print

File:Handtiegelpresse von
Printing press from 1811, Munich, Germany.

The historical context in which the Index appeared involved the early restrictions on printing in Europe. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg around 1440 changed the nature of book publishing, and the mechanism by which information could be disseminated to the public.[13]

In the 16th century, in most European countries both the church and governments attempted to regulate and control printing, which allowed for rapid and widespread circulation of ideas and information. While governments and church encouraged printing in many ways, which allowed the dissemination of Bibles and government information, works of dissent and criticism could also circulate rapidly. As a consequence, governments established controls over printers across Europe, requiring them to have official licenses to trade and produce books.[14][15]

The early versions of the Index began to appear from 1529 to 1571. In the same time frame, in 1557 the British Crown aimed to stem the flow of dissent by chartering the Stationers' Company. The right to print was restricted to two universities and to the 21 existing printers in the city of London, which had 53 printing presses.

The French crown also repressed printing, and printer Etienne Dolet was burned at the stake in 1546. The 1551 Edict of Châteaubriant comprehensively summarized censorship positions to date, and included provisions for unpacking and inspecting all books brought into France.[16][17] The 1557 Edict of Compiègne applied the death penalty to heretics and resulted in the burning of a noblewoman at the stake.[18] Printers were viewed as radical and rebellious, with 800 authors, printers and book dealers being incarcerated in the Bastille before it was stormed in 1789.[19] At times, the prohibitions of church and state followed each other, e.g. René Descartes was placed on the Index in the 1660s and the French government prohibited the teaching of Cartesianism in schools in the 1670s.[20]

The 1710 introduction of Statute of Anne in England (and later copyright laws in France) eased this situation. However, historian Eckhard Höffner claims that copyright laws and their restrictions acted as a barrier to progress in those countries for over a century, since British publishers could print valuable knowledge in limited quantities for the sake of profit; while the German economy prospered in the same time frame since there were no restrictions.[21][22]

Early indices (1529—1571)

File:Pope Paul
Pope Paul IV authorized the first Roman Index.

The first list of the kind was not published in Rome, but in Catholic Netherlands (1529). Venice (1543) and Paris (1551, under the terms of the Edict of Châteaubriant) followed this example. By mid-century, in the tense atmosphere of wars of religion in Germany and France, both Protestant and Catholic authorities reasoned that only control of the press coordinated between Church and State could prevent the spread of heresy.[23] The first Roman Index, produced in 1559 under the direction of Pope Paul IV (1555–1559), banned the entire works of some 550 authors in addition to the individual proscribed titles:[24] "The Pauline Index felt that the religious convictions of an author contaminated all his writing."[23] The work of the censors was considered too severe and met with much opposition even in Catholic intellectual circles; after the Council of Trent had authorised a revised list prepared under Pope Pius IV, the so-called Tridentine Index was promulgated in 1564; it remained the basis of all later lists until Pope Leo XIII, in 1897, published his Index Leonianus.

The blacklisting of some Protestant scholars even when writing on subjects a modern reader would consider outside the realm of dogma meant that, unless they obtained a dispensation, obedient Catholic thinkers were denied access to the botanist Conrad Gesner's Historiae animalium or the botanical works of Otto Brunfels, those of the medical scholar Janus Cornarius, to Christoph Hegendorff or Johann Oldendorp on the theory of law, Protestant geographers and cosmographers like Jacob Ziegler or Sebastian Münster, as well as anything by Protestant theologians like Martin Luther, John Calvin or Philipp Melancthon.[25] Among the more counter-intuitive inclusions was the Libri Carolini, a theological work from the 9th century court of Charlemagne, which had only survived in a manuscript in the Vatican Library, before being printed in the 16th century.

Sacred Congregation of the Index (1571—1917)

In 1571 a special congregation was created, the Sacred Congregation of the Index, which had the specific task to investigate those writings that were denounced in Rome as being not exempt of errors, to update the list of Pope Pius IV regularly and also to make lists of required corrections in case a writing was not to be condemned absolutely but only in need of correction; it was then listed with a mitigating clause (e.g., donec corrigatur (forbidden until corrected) or donec expurgetur (forbidden until purged)).

File:Galileo before the Holy
Gallileo being condemned in 1633.

This sometimes resulted in very long lists of corrections, published in the Index Expurgatorius. Prohibitions made by other congregations (mostly the Holy Office) were simply passed on to the Congregation of the Index, where the final decrees were drafted and made public, after approval of the Pope (who always had the possibility to condemn an author personally—only a few examples, such as Lamennais and Hermes).

An update to the Index was made by Pope Leo XIII, in the 1897 apostolic constitution Officiorum ac Munerum, known as the "Index Leonianus".

The Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church later became the Holy Office, and since 1965 has been called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation of the Index was merged with the Holy Office in 1917, by the Motu Proprio "Alloquentes Proxime" of Pope Benedict XV; the rules on the reading of books were again reelaborated in the new Codex Iuris Canonici. From 1917 on, the Holy Office (again) took care of the Index.

Holy Office (1917—1966)

The Index was regularly updated until the 1948 edition. This 20th[2] edition contained 4,000 titles censored for various reasons: heresy, moral deficiency, sexual explicitness, and so on. That some atheists, such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, were not included was due to the general (Tridentine) rule that heretical works (i.e., works that contradict Catholic dogma) are ipso facto forbidden. Some important works are absent simply because nobody bothered to denounce them. Many actions of the congregations were of a definite political content.

Abolition (1966)

On 7 December 1965, Pope Paul VI issued the Motu Proprio "Integrae servandae" that re-constituted the Holy Office as the "Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."[26] The Index was not listed as being a part of the newly-constituted Congregation's competence, leading to questioning whether it still was. This question was put to Cardinal Ottaviani—Pro-Prefect of the Congregation—who responded in the negative.[27] The Cardinal also indicated in his response that there was going to be a change in the Index soon.

A notification of 14 June 1966 from the Congregation, which was published on the 15 June 1966 issue of the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano,[28] announced that, while the Index maintained its moral force, in that it taught Christians to beware, as required by the natural law itself, of those writings that could endanger faith and morality, it no longer had the force of ecclesiastical positive law with the associated penalties.[29]

Scope and impact

Censorship and enforcement

The Index was not simply a reactive work. Roman Catholic authors had the opportunity to defend their writings and could prepare a new edition with the necessary corrections or deletions, either to avoid or to limit a ban. Pre-publication censorship was encouraged.

The effects of the Index were at times felt throughout much of the Roman Catholic world. From Quebec to Poland it was, for many years, very difficult to find copies of banned works, especially outside of major cities. The Index, however, had little effect outside Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland or Bohemia, as it lacked an effective means of enforcement. The inability of the Church in Rome to enforce the banning of works by authors such as Kepler resulted in their availability in northern Europe, allowing Kepler's work to be used as the foundation for Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation, which significantly influenced the formation of modern physics.

Continued moral obligation

On 14 June 1966, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responded to inquiries it had received regarding the continued moral obligation concerning books that had been listed in the Index. The response spoke of the books as examples of books dangerous to faith and morals, all of which, not just those once included in the Index, should be avoided regardless of the absence of any written law against them. The Index, it said, retains its moral force "inasmuch as" (quatenus) it teaches the conscience of Christians to beware, as required by the natural law itself, of writings that can endanger faith and morals, but it (the Index of Forbidden Books) no longer has the force of ecclesiastical law with the associated censures.[30]

The congregation thus placed on the conscience of the individual Christian the responsibility to avoid all writings dangerous to faith and morals, while at the same time abolishing the previously existing ecclesiastical law and the relative censures,[31] without thereby declaring that the books that had once been listed in the various editions of the Index of Prohibited Books had suddenly become free of error and danger.

In a letter of 31 January 1985 to Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, regarding the book Poem of the Man God, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (then Prefect of the Congregation, who later became Pope Benedict XVI), referred to the 1966 notification of the Congregation as follows: "After the dissolution of the Index, when some people thought the printing and distribution of the work was permitted, people were reminded again in 'LOsservatore Romano' (15 June 1966) that, as was published in the 'Acta Apostolicae Sedis' (1966), the Index retains its moral force despite its dissolution. A decision against distributing and recommending a work, which has not been condemned lightly, may be reversed, but only after profound changes that neutralize the harm which such a publication could bring forth among the ordinary faithful."[32]

Modern day use issues

(who was on the Index) in the place he was burned alive at the stake, Campo de' Fiori in Rome. The statue is placed so Bruno faces in the direction of the Vatican.]]

In the course of centuries, editions of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum saw deletions as well as additions of content. An example is the removal in the 1758 edition of the general prohibition of works advocating heliocentrism as a fact rather than a hypothesis.[33] Accordingly, many of the books that were once on the Index have for centuries been in widespread use within Catholic institutions. And as the quest for formerly forbidden knowledge and use of it has continued, and with the changing standards by which items are judged as immoral, the maintenance of any kind of Index would have proven almost impossible, in any case.[34][35][36]

Thus, material from some of the books that were once on the Index (e.g. basics of astronomy) are routinely taught at most universities (including Catholic universities) in the world. Although in 1600 Giordano Bruno was burned alive at the stake in Campo de' Fiori in Rome, the ideas which formed part of the charges of heresy (along with many other purely religious ones) against Bruno now form some of the foundations of modern cosmology,[37] and of theories such as that of parallel universes.[38]

Works too of a theological character that were on the Index have since received approbation. The Poem of the Man God by Maria Valtorta was forbidden by the Holy Office under Pope John XXIII in 1959, a condemnation upheld in Cardinal Ratzinger's above-mentioned 1985 letter, almost two decades after the abolition of the Index; but in 2001 Catholic Bishop Roman Danylak, by then a canon of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome[39] and no longer in charge of an eparchy, granted, in his own words, "a letter of commendation, a Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur and a testimonial to this website of a Catholic monk on the writings of Maria Valtorta" (the website in question being one with the title "— A Contemporary Mystic — acclaimed one of the greatest: Maria Valtorta and her masterwork: The Poem of the Man-God"[40] and in another letter stated that The Poem of the Man-God is, with the other writings of Valtorta, "in perfect consonance with the canonical Gospels, with the traditions and magisterium of the Catholic Church".[41]

Multimedia issues

As its title implies, the Index only dealt with the censorship of printed matter and did not deal with objectionable material in media such as film. As the motion picture industry started to gather momentum in the United States in the 1930s, the Catholic Legion of Decency was formed by American bishops. Its aim was to both warn Catholics about objectionable movies and to impose a form of self-censorship on the movie industry.[42]

The legion wielded significant influence over Hollywood studios and in 2001 was incorporated into the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It continues to issue ratings to date.[43]

Listed works and authors

The Index included a number of authors and intellectuals whose works are widely read today in most leading universities and are now considered as the foundations of science, e.g. Kepler's New Astronomy, his Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, and his World Harmony were quickly placed on the Index after their publication.[44] Other noteworthy intellectuals and religious figures on the Index include Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, André Gide, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, Hugo Grotius, and Saint Faustina Kowalska. Charles Darwin's works were notably never included,[45] although a number of works that reconciled evolutionary theory and Catholic theology in ways unacceptable to the Church were included.

These have recently been described as works ".. considered as the foundations of science and literature." The consequent effect on children given a Catholic education from the 16th century to the 1960s must have been considerable.[46]

In many cases, an author's "opera omnia" (all his works) were forbidden. Most of these were inserted in the Index at a time when the Index itself stated that the prohibition of someone's "opera omnia" (all his works) did not cover works whose contents did not concern religion and were not forbidden by the general rules of the Index, but this explanation was omitted in the 1929 edition, an omission that was officially interpreted in 1940 as meaning that thenceforth "opera omnia" covered all the author's works without exception.[47]

In one case, a book was added to the Index by the Holy Office during the reign of one Pope after it had reportedly received verbal papal approval from the previous Pope. The book Poem of the Man God received praise from Pope Pius XII's confessor (Augustin Bea), and was presented to Pius XII during a special audience in 1948 in which he reportedly approved it, and the Servite priests present signed an affidavit to that effect.[48] Ten years later, however, the book was added to the Index.[49][50][51][52]

Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf was never put on the Index, even though Hitler was the target of the Papal Bull Mit Brennender Sorge, while the works of other less famous authors, including at least one saint (St. Faustina Kowalska), were.[53][54] Cardinal Ottaviani remarked in an April 1966 interview with L'Osservatore della Domenica that there was too much contemporary literature and the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could not keep up with it.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Cambridge University on Index.
  2. ^ a b Encyclopaedia Britannica: Index Librorum Prohibitorum
  3. ^ Charles B. Schmitt, et al. The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 1991), "Printing and censorship after 1550", p.45ff.
  4. ^ Index Librorum Prohibitorum, 1559, Regula Quarta ("Rule 4")
  5. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 827 §3
  6. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 830
  7. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 832
  8. ^ Letter of Bishop Roman Danylak [1]
  9. ^ Maria Valtorta, Her Life and Work
  10. ^ A Saint despite the vatican National Catholic Reporter-August 30, 2002 also [2]
  11. ^ Vatican Webpage on Faustina Kowalska
  12. ^ Robert Wilson, 1997 Astronomy Through the Ages ISBN 0-7484-0748-0
  13. ^ McLuhan, Marshall (1962), The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1st ed.), University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-0802060419 page 124
  14. ^ MacQueen, Hector L; Charlotte Waelde and Graeme T Laurie (2007). Contemporary Intellectual Property: Law and Policy. Oxford University Press. pp. 34. ISBN 9780199263394. http://www.google.com/books?id=_Iwcn4pT0OoC&dq=contemporary+intellectual+property&source=gbs_navlinks_s. 
  15. ^ de Sola Pool, Ithiel (1983). Technologies of freedom. Harvard University Press. pp. 14. ISBN 9780674872332. http://www.google.com/books?id=BzLXGUxV4CkC&pg=PA15&dq=Areopagitica+freedom+of+speech+britain&lr=&as_brr=3&cd=36#v=onepage&q=&f=false. 
  16. ^ The Rabelais encyclopedia by Elizabeth A. Chesney 2004 ISBN 0313310343 pages 31-32
  17. ^ The printing press as an agent of change by Elizabeth L. Eisenstein 1980 ISBN 0521299551 page 328
  18. ^ Robert Jean Knecht, The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France: 1483-1610 2001, ISBN 0631227296 page 241
  19. ^ de Sola Pool, Ithiel (1983). Technologies of freedom. Harvard University Press. pp. 15. ISBN 9780674872332. http://www.google.com/books?id=BzLXGUxV4CkC&pg=PA15&dq=Areopagitica+freedom+of+speech+britain&lr=&as_brr=3&cd=36#v=onepage&q=&f=false. 
  20. ^ A companion to Descartes by Janet Broughton, John Peter Carriero 2007 ISBN 1405121548 page
  21. ^ Der Spiegel August 18 2010 article: No Copyright Law
  22. ^ Geschichte und Wesen des Urheberrechts (History and nature of copyright) by Eckhard Höffner, July 2010 (in German) ISBN 3930893169
  23. ^ a b Schmitt 1991:45.
  24. ^ They included everything by Pietro Aretino, Machiavelli, Erasmus and Rabelais (Schmitt 1991:45).
  25. ^ These authors are instanced by Schmitt 1991.
  26. ^ http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_p-vi_motu-proprio_19651207_integrae-servandae_lt.html
  27. ^ L'Osservatore della Domenica, 24 April 1966, pg. 10.
  28. ^ L'Osservatore Romano, 15 June 1966, Year 106, number 136, page 1. L'Osservatore Romano appears in the late afternoon, bearing the date of the following day.
  29. ^ "Nuntiat Indicem suum vigorem moralem servare, quatenus Christifidelium conscientiam docet, ut ab illis scriptis, ipso iure naturali exigente, caveant, quae fidem ac bonos mores in discrimen adducere possint; eundem tamen non amplius vim legis ecclesiasticae habere cum adiectis censuris" (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. 58, 1966, p. 445). The text can be consulted also in Kurt Wilhelm, Wissenschaft des Judentums im deutschen Sprachbereich: ein Querschnitt, Volume 1,ISBN 978-3-16-821152-5
  30. ^ "Haec S. Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, facto verbo cum Beatissimo Patre, nuntiat Indicem suum vigorem moralem servare, quatenus Christifidelium conscientiam docet, ut ab illis scriptis, ipso iure naturali exigente, caveant, quae fidem ac bonos mores in discrimen adducere possint; eundem tamen non amplius vim legis ecclesiasticae habere cum adiectis censuris" (Acta Apostolicae Sedis) 58 (1966), p. 445). Cf. Italian text published, together with the Latin, on L'Osservatore Romano of 15 June 1966)
  31. ^ Post litteras apostolicas
  32. ^ Poem of the Man-God
  33. ^ McMullin, Ernan, ed. The Church and Galileo. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. 2005. ISBN 0-268-03483-4. pp. 307, 347
  34. ^ Roger Shattuck 1997 Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography ISBN 0-15-600551-4
  35. ^ New York Time: How Many Books are Too Many? July 18, 2004
  36. ^ Our changing morality: a symposium by Freda Kirchwey 1972 ISBN 0-405-03866-6 page 236
  37. ^ New Yorker Magazine, August 25, 2008: The Forbidden World
  38. ^ Max Tegmark, Parallel Universes
  39. ^ S. Maria Basilica
  40. ^ Bishop Danylak's Imprimatur
  41. ^ Valtorta Publishing
  42. ^ Time Magazine on Legion of Decency
  43. ^ Frank Walsh, 1996 Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry ISBN 0-300-06373-3
  44. ^ Project Galileo
  45. ^ Rafael Martinez, professor of the philosophy of science at the Santa Croce Pontifical University in Rome, in speech reported on Catholic Ireland net Accessed 26 May 2009
  46. ^ Daily Mail, 28 April 2009, p.48.
  47. ^ Jesús Martínez de Bujanda, Index librorum prohibitorum: 1600-1966 (Droz 2002 ISBN 2-600-00818-7), p. 36
  48. ^ http://www.ewtn.com/library/scriptur/valtorta.txt
  49. ^ Valepic
  50. ^ Fr. Berti's annotations to Maria Valtorta's Libro di Azaria (Book of Azaria), Edizioni Pisani, 1972.
  51. ^ L'Osservatore Romano February 27, 1948.
  52. ^ Valtorta Publishing
  53. ^ Vatican opens up secrets of Index of Forbidden Books.
  54. ^ American Magazine http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=3998

Bibliography

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

INDEX LIBRORUM PROHIBITORUM, the title of the official list of those books which on doctrinal or moral grounds the Roman Catholic Church authoritatively forbids the members of her communion to read or to possess, irrespective of works forbidden by the general rules on the subject. Most governments, whether civil or ecclesiastical, have at all times in one way or another acted on the general principle that some control may and ought to be exercised over the literature circulated among those under their jurisdiction. If we set aside the heretical books condemned by the early councils, the earliest known instance of a list of proscribed books being issued with the authority of a bishop of Rome is the Notitia librorum apocryphorum qui non recipiuntur, the first redaction of which, by Pope Gelasius (494), was subsequently amplified on several occasions. The document is for the most part an enumeration of such apocryphal works as by their titles might be supposed to be part of Holy Scripture (the "Acts" of Philip, Thomas and Peter, and the Gospels of Thaddaeus, Matthias, Peter, James the Less and others). 1 Subsequent pontiffs continued to exhort the episcopate and the whole body of the faithful to be on their guard against heretical writings, whether old or new; and one of the functions of the Inquisition when it was established was to exercise a rigid censorship over books put in circulation. The majority of the condemnations were at that time of a specially theological character. With the discovery of the art of printing, and the wide and cheap diffusion of all sorts of books which ensued, the need for new precautions against heresy and immorality in literature made itself felt, and more than one pope (Sixtus IV. in 1479 and Alexander VI. in 1501) gave special directions to the archbishops of Cologne, Mainz, Trier and Magdeburg regarding the growing abuses of the printing press; in 1515 the Lateran council formulated the decree De Impressione Librorum, which required that no work should be printed without previous examination by the proper ecclesiastica' authority, the penalty of unlicensed printing being excommunication of the culprit, and confiscation and destruction of the books. The council of Trent in its fourth session, 8th April 1546, forbade the sale or possession of any anonymous religious book which had not previously been seen and approved by the ordinary; in the same year the university of Louvain, at the command of Charles V., prepared an "Index" of pernicious and forbidden books, a second edition of which appeared in 1S50. In 1557, and again in 1559, Pope Paul IV., through the Inquisition at Rome, published what may be regarded as the first Roman Index in the modern ecclesiastical use of that term (Index auctorum et librorum qui tanquam haeretici aut suspecti aut perversi ab Officio S. Inquisitionis reprobantur et in universa Christiana republica interdicuntur). In this we find the three 1 Hardouin, Conc. ii. 940; Labbe, Conc. ii. 938-941. The whole document has also been reprinted in Smith's Diet. of Chr. Antiq., art. "Prohibited Books." classes which were to be maintained in the Trent Index: authors condemned with all their writings; prohibited books, the authors of which are known; pernicious books by anonymous authors. An excessively severe general condemnation was applied to all anonymous books published since 1519; and a list of sixty-two printers of heretical books was appended. This excessive rigour was mitigated in 1561. At the 18th session of the council of Trent (26th February 1562), in consideration of the great increase in the number of suspect and pernicious books,.and also of the inefficacy of the many previous "censures" which had proceeded from the provinces and from Rome itself, eighteen fathers with a certain number of theologians were appointed to inquire into these "censures," and to consider what ought to be done in the circumstances. At the 25th session (4th December 1563) this committee of the council was reported to have completed its work, but as the subject did not seem (on account of the great number and variety of the books) to admit of being properly discussed by the council, the result of its labours was handed over to the pope (Pius IV.) to deal with as he should think proper. In the following March accordingly were published, with papal approval, the Index librorum prohibitorum, which continued to be reprinted and brought down to date, and the "Ten Rules" which, supplemented and explained by Clement VIII., Sixtus V., Alexander VII., and finally by Benedict XIV. (loth July 1753), regulated the matter until the pontificate of Leo XIII. The business of condemning pernicious books and of correcting the Index to date has been since the time of Pope Sixtus V. in the hands of the "Congregation of the Index," which consists of several cardinals, one of whom is the prefect, and more or less numerous "consultors" and "examiners of books." An attempt has been made to publish separately the Index Librorum Expurgandorum or Expur- gatorius, a catalogue of the works which may be read after the deletion or amending of specified passages; but this was soon abandoned.

With the alteration of social conditions, however, the Rules of Trent ceased to be entirely applicable. Their application to publications which had no concern with morals or religion was no longer conceivable; and, finally, the penalties called for modification. Already, at the Vatican Council, several bishops had submitted requests for a reform of the Index, but the Council was not able to deal with the question. The reform was accomplished by Leo XIII., who, on the 25th of January 1897, published the constitution Officiorum, in 49 articles. In this constitution, although the writings of heretics in support of heresy are condemned as before (No. I), those of their books which contain nothing against Catholic doctrine or which treat other subjects are permitted (Nos. 2-3). Editions of the text of the Scriptures are permitted for purposes of study; translations of the Bible into the vulgar tongue have to be approved, while those published by non-Catholics are permitted for the use of scholars (Nos. 5-8). Obscene books are forbidden; the classics, however, are authorized for educational purposes (Nos. 9-10). Articles 11-14 forbid books which outrage God and sacred things, books which propagate magic and superstition, and books which are pernicious to society. The ecclesiastical laws relating to sacred images, to indulgences, and to liturgical books and books of devotion are maintained (Nos. 15-20). Articles 21 -22 condemn immoral and irreligious newspapers, and forbid writers to contribute to them. Articles 23-26 deal with permissions to read prohibited books; these are given by the bishop in particular cases, and in the ordinary course by the Congregation of the Index. In the second part of the constitution the pope deals with the censorship of books. After indicating the official publications for which the authorization of the divers Roman congregations is required, he goes on to say that the others are amenable to the ordinary of the editor and, in the case of regulars, to their superior (Nos. 30-37). The examination of the books is entrusted to censors, who have to study them without prejudice; if their report is favourable, the bishop gives the imprimatur (Nos. 38-40) All books concerned with the religious sciences and with ethics are submitted to preliminary censorship, and in, addition to this ecclesiastics have to obtain a personal authorization for all their books and for the acceptance of the editorship of a periodical (Nos. 41-42). The penalty of excommunication ipso facto is only maintained for reading books written by heretics or apostates in defence of heresy, or books condemned by name under pain of excommunication by pontifical letters (not by decrees of the Index). By the same constitution Leo XIII. ordered the revision of the catalogue of the Index. The new Index, which omits works anterior to 1600 as well as a great number of others included in the, old catalogue, appeared in 1900. The encyclical Pascendi of t ? ius X. (8th September 1907) made it obligatory for periodicals amenable to the ecclesiastical authority to be submitted to a censor, who subsequently makes useful observations. The legislation of Leo XIII. resulted in the better observance of the rules for the publication of books, but apparently did not modify the practice as regards the reading of prohibited books. It is to be regretted that the catalogue does not discriminate among the prohibited works according to the motive of their condemnation and the danger ascribed to reading them. The tendency of the practice among Catholics at large is to reduce these condemnations to the proportions of the moral law.

See H. Reusch, Der Index der verbotenen Bucher (Bonn, 1883); A. Arndt, De Libris prohibitis commentarii (Ratisbon, 1895); A. Boudinhon, La Nouvelle Legislation de l'index (Paris, 18 99); J. Hilgers, Der Index der verbotenen Bucher (Freiburg in B., 1904); A. Vermeersch, De prohibitione et censura librorum (Tournai, 1907); T. Hurley, Commentary on the Present Index Legislation (Dublin, 1908). (A. Bo.*)


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