The Catholic Church and the Bible

O. C. Lambert

Timothy, his mother, and grandmother were highly commended because they were students of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14-17). Timothy was urged to a further study (2 Tim. 2:15). The Bereans were commended very highly for searching the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). All of this is in the Catholic Bible as well as the Protestant Bible. Yet in spite of this, the Catholic Church is, and always has been, the world’s most uncompromising foe to Bible reading.


What a Catholic writer or speaker will say depends very largely on the exigency of the hour and they are at liberty to tell just the opposite of the truth if the interests of Catholicism can be best served by that means. We must understand this principle of Catholicism to be prepared for Catholic statements on both sides of nearly every question. For instance, in this country they would prefer that the public believe they are in favor of tolerance; that they are the champion of human rights; that they are especially devoted to the Constitution of the United States, when nothing could be farther from their real feelings and designs, as I shall prove.


It is very common in lectures and books designed primarily for non-Catholics that they make the ridiculous claim that they have always urged Bible reading. Non-Catholics are so little informed on the real history and teaching of Catholicism that they believe it.


The series of quotations here given are not irresponsible statements of unknown writers but are from books which have been circulated by the millions and issued with the full authority of the Catholic Church. We will note in these statements that during the Dark Ages, which is called the Golden Period of Catholicism, she did prohibit the reading of the Bible. We note, too, that with the invention of the printing press, and its companion the Reformation, the power of Catholicism was broken and since then she has adopted other means because her prohibition could no longer be enforced. We will learn also as we proceed with our study of the many fancy ways she invented for torturing to death those who disregarded her mandates. She not only admits that she prohibited the reading of the Bible when in her glory, and that the Reformation forced her to adopt a different policy, she admits that there was no restraint on the reading of the Bible in the early Church and that the Bible occupied a much more prominent place in the New Testament Church than is true with Catholicism.

She tells us that her reasons for not wishing her communicants to read the Bible are: that it is too sacred to be read; that some parts are “unsuited to the very young or the ignorant”; and that “more harm than utility is thereby caused. She exultingly informs us that as a result of her diligent campaign to disparage the Bible her members usually prefer human books!


Catholic Church Forbids Bible Reading.

“More than this, parts of the Bible are evidently unsuited to the very young or to the ignorant, and hence Clement XI condemned the proposition that ‘the reading of the Scriptures is for all’.These principles are fixed and invariable, but the discipline of the Church with regard to the reading of the Bible in the vulgar tongue has varied with varying circumstances. In early times the Bible was read freely by the lay people, . . . New dangers came in during the middle ages, . . . To meet these evils, the Council of Toulouse (1229) forbade the laity to read the vernacular translations of the Bible. Pius IV (1565) required bishops to refuse lay persons leave to read even Catholic versions of Scripture unless their confessors or parish priests judged that such reading was likely to prove beneficial” (Catholic Dictionary, 82).

Bible Reading Not Allowed Before Luther.

It was well for Luther that he did not come into the world until a century after the immortal discovery of Gutenberg (the printing press). A hundred years earlier, his idea of directing two hundred and fifty millions of men to read the Bible would have been received with shouts of laughter, and would have inevitably caused his removal from the pulpit of Wittenberg to a hospital for the insane” (Quoted from Martinet by Cardinal Gibbons in Faith of Our Fathers, 107).

Bible Too Sacred to Be Read.

If occasionally she has seemed to restrict its use or its diffusion this, too, was through an easily comprehensible love and particular esteem for the Bible, that the sacred book might not like a profane book be made a ground for curiosity, endless discussions, and abuses of every kind.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, XV, 9).

Catholics Prefer Human Books to Bible.

In other spiritual books the truths of the Bible are presented more fully and in a more modern style, so that we can hardly wonder that they are, as a rule, preferred; and that though good Catholic families generally have a Bible, it is more venerated than read” (Plain Facts, 154).

Bible Reading More Harm Than Utility.

As it has been clearly shown by experience that, if the Holy Bible in the vernacular is generally permitted without distinction, more harm than utility is thereby caused, owing to human temerity: all versions in the vernacular, even by Catholics are altogether prohibited, unless approved by the Holy See, or published under the ‘vigilant care of the Bishops with annotations taken from the Fathers of the Church and learned Catholic writers.” (Pope Leo XIII, in Great Encyclicals, 413).

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