Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum

List of forbidden books in Castile in 1583

As we studied last Friday, one of the decisions made by the Catholic Church to stop the extension of Protestantism was the creation of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of the books forbidden for the Catholic believers. This list was created in 1559 and it existed until 1966, when Pope Paul VI decided to abolish it. The Index included all the books whose ideas were considered against the official dogma of the Catolic Church. Many works of thinkers and scientists were included on it, but also novels. Every book published in the Catholic countries had to pass the control of the Church and receive its aproval: Nihil obstat (nothing forbids) and Imprimatur (let it be printed). If the book belonged to a religious institution and was on questions of religion or moral, it should also get the Imprimi potest (it can be printed). 

Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur of a book published in New York

The institution in charge of the List of Forbidden Books was the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition, later called the Holy Office. Owning forbidden books was considered to be heressy and the heretics were persecuted and punished. For example, Giordano Bruno, an Italian philosopher and scientist, was burnt at stake for his writings. Galileo Galilei had to recant many of his ideas about the universe, because this was the only way to save his life. 

At present the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the insitution in charge of watching books and overseeing the Catholic doctrine. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1981 until he was elected Pope in 2005. This institution still bans the books they consider theologically wrong. For example, they punished the books of some members of the Church who follow the Liberation Theology current, such as Leonardo Boff, Jon Sobrino or Hans Küng

On the following link you have a complete list of the books and authors forbidden for the Catholics until the list was suppressed

The Opus Dei, a very conservative group of the Catholic Church, has a list of forbidden books for its members. They have created a list of more than 60,000 books and rated them according to religious and moral criteria. Here you have the list of forbidden writers: 

On the same link you can upload the whole booklist and  watch the "mark" Opus Dei gives to every book. 


Roxana said...

Paqui, I have upload the complete list of the books and authors forbidden for the Catholics and I don't understand the mark they gave the books. Can you explain it to me, please?

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello Roxana,

The marks they give to the books refer to the level of permission the believers have to read these books. 1 means books everybody can read and 6 means the books forbidden for the Opus Dei followers, because they think these books are dangerous for the believers or include ideas againts the Catholic beliefs. The Opus Dei members can´t read these books. There are around 7,000 forbidden books. If you´re a member of the Opus Dei and read any of these books, you have to confess and you will have a penance to do.

Officially the Catholic Church hasn´t got a list of forbidden books at the moment, but there are books banned for the Catholics. They mainly refer to the Catholic dogma, but there are also books about sexuality, homosexuality, contraceptives..., which the good Catholics shouldn´t read.

I hope you understand better now. Do you think books are dangerous? Do you think forbidding books is a good idea?

See you tomorrow!

Roxana said...

I already understand it. Thanks.
And I think that books are not dangerous. I really like reading and I have read some of the forbidden books. They tell stories really nice.
I think that forbid books is stupid and many of the forbidden books are wonderful works and all people that do not read them can't appreciate what they miss.

I don't understand why books like Aladdin, One Thousand and One Nights and Sinbad the Sailor,among other, are forbidden...

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

I agree with you: books are not dangerous. The interpretation people give to some books is dangerous sometimes. For example, racist books tell a lot of lies and stupid things, but many people believe them. In Germany and other countriesMein Kampf, the book Adolf Hitler wrote, is forbidden. I think the book should be available to show the big amount of stupid things Hitler wrote and why those ideas extended so much in the 30´s in Germany.

Aladdin and the other books are not forbidden, because they have been rated with 1 and 2. This means that they can be read, but in the case of One Thousand and One Nights readers have to have a little formation, maybe to understand the references to Islam.

The prohibition of books created an active books´contraband in some places in the past. For example, in the Hispanic MOnarchy, because Philip II prohibited many books. The people who wanted to read books of science and thinking had to buy them illegally. The copy the National Library has of the French Encyclopedia was bought by a priest and introduced in Spain of contraband!