On the Index of Forbidden Books

Absolute freedom?

By Bishop Oliver Oravec


Bishop Oliver Oravec was a traditionalist Catholic bishop. He was born in the Slovak Republic, 1941. He studied medicine after graduating from high school and became a dentist. In 1964 he entered an underground seminary, as Czechoslovakia was behind the Iron Curtain under Communist control. He was ordained a priest on February 2, 1968 in Brno, Czechoslovakia by Felix Maria Davídek, the underground Roman Catholic Bishop of Brno.

In 1979 he was forced to flee his homeland when someone revealed his underground activities to the authorities. For a time he was a member of the Society of Jesus in Rome, until he came to believe, that the Jesuits were by then a principal source of the problems affecting the Church. He went to Canada and worked as a parish priest in Toronto until abjuring the Novus Ordo M

ass in 1983, and began to help traditionalist Catholics in Ontario. For a time Fr. Oravec SJ worked together with the Society of St. Pius X, but stopped this cooperation after he had come to adhere to sedevacantism or, initially, the Cassiciacum Thesis.

He was consecrated a bishop on October 21, 1988 at Monroe, Connecticut by Most. Rev. Robert F. McKenna, O.P. After his irregular consecration to the episcopate he has come to adhere to a hard-line sedevacantist position. He died in July 2014. (Wikipedia, slightly updated)


After the so-called Second Vatican Council, the modern Catholic is, supposedly, a free man in the sense that the “Church” trusts him and believes that he can make the right decisions and, therefore, such a “Catholic” should not be restricted by any prohibitions regarding what he should and should not do. It appears that people today should be trusted, because they are better educated than Catholics from a hundred years ago. Today we live in a democracy and, so Catholics also may write and read what they want; and it wouldn’t be very democratic if there were prohibitions on something. According to the modernists, it is absurd that the Church should punish such “Catholics” merely for reading something, even if this were written against the Chu

index of forbidden books

rch and her teaching. After all, we cannot follow the example of the Iranian Muslim leaders, who pronounced a death sentence on the British writer Rushdie just because he wrote a novel against Mohammed. Evidently, we should be more tolerant.

However, the Church, conscious of the task she has to carry out in this world – which is to lead her children to Heaven while shielding them from the poison of false, satanic teaching and the venom of immoral literature – already in the fifth century issued a list of forbidden books, known as the Index of Forbidden Books.

The first pope who issued a list of dangerous books was Innocent in the year 405. After him was Pope Gelasius in 495. A significant and decisive moment in the history of Church legislation regarding dangerous books was the Fifth Lateran Council in 1515. The Council of Trent in 1562 looked into the matter again and reaffirmed it. These councils marked out the rules regarding the ban on dangerous books, which were binding in the Church until the start of the twentieth century, when they were incorporated into the Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) in the years 1917-1918, which work was commenced by St. Pius X and was published by Pope Benedict XV. The Church was guided on this issue by the decisions of this Code up until 15th June 1965, when Paul VI abolished the Index of Forbidden Books.

This act of Paul VI is only one of his many criminal acts by which he reaffirmed that he was not the lawful pope.

Of course the Index is binding to Catholics who have remained faithful to the Catholic Church to this day.

Consequences of the Abolition of the Index Which are Perceivable Today

We are currently witnesses of the greatest defection from faith in God and from the Catholic Faith among Catholics. Former Catholics make up a greater part of various sects.

Most of the human race is not Christian anymore.

There has never before been such a great number of so-called atheists.

Many diverse religious convictions, including false and immoral ones, prevail among “Catholics”.

We have a multitude of so-called theologians, such as Küng, Curran and others, who, in their “theological” works, defend various errors and sins which have already many times been condemned by the Church.

Young people do not see any difference between particular religions and churches.

Millions of “Catholics” believe in various “Marian apparitions”, even when they contradict Church teaching.

The reading of filthy literature is leading to the decline of morals.

Immoral plays and films have a similar effect.

In modern Churches one sees statues and pictures which are the fruits of ugliness.

This leads to the paralysis of missionary activity.

It has come to the relativisation even of those absolute truths which have always been clear.

Catholics do not see any problem with reading communist or generally leftist literature or newspapers.

The Index of Forbidden Books

The Council of Trent (1562): “The sacred and holy, ecumenical and general Synod of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost… not confiding in human strength, but relying on the succour and assistance of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has promised that he would give to His Church a mouth and wisdom, hath especially in view to restore at length to its native purity and splendour, the doctrine of the Catholic faith, which is in many places defiled and obscured by the conflicting opinions of many who differ from each other; to bring back, to a better method of life, manners, which have divaricated from ancient usage… Whereas, then, first of all, it has noticed that the number of suspected and pernicious books, wherein an impure doctrine is contained, and is disseminated far and wide, has in these days increased beyond measure, which indeed has been the cause that many censures have been, out of a godly zeal, published in diverse provinces, and especially in the fair city of Rome,–and yet that no salutary remedy has availed against so great and pernicious a disorder; It hath thought good, that Fathers specially chosen for this inquiry, should carefully consider what ought to be done in the matter of censures and of books, and also in due time report thereon to this holy Synod; to the end that It may more easily separate the various and strange doctrines, as cockle from the wheat of Christian truth, and may more conveniently deliberate and determine, in regard thereof, that which shall seem best adapted to remove scruples from the minds of very many, and to do away with various causes of complaint…

“And forasmuch as this said holy Synod heartily desires, and earnestly beseeches God for the things that are for the peace of the Church, that we all, acknowledging our common mother on earth, who cannot forget the sons of her womb, with one mouth may glorify God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…

The Council of Trent (1562): “The sacred and holy, ecumenical and general Synod of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost… not confiding in human strength, but relying on the succour and assistance of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has promised that he would give to His Church a mouth and wisdom, hath especially in view to restore at length to its native purity and splendour, the doctrine of the Catholic faith, which is in many places defiled and obscured by the conflicting opinions of many who differ from each other; to bring back, to a better method of life, manners, which have divaricated from ancient usage… Whereas, then, first of all, it has noticed that the number of suspected and pernicious books, wherein an impure doctrine is contained, and is disseminated far and wide, has in these days increased beyond measure, which indeed has been the cause that many censures have been, out of a godly zeal, published in diverse provinces, and especially in the fair city of Rome,–and yet that no salutary remedy has availed against so great and pernicious a disorder; It hath thought good, that Fathers specially chosen for this inquiry, should carefully consider what ought to be done in the matter of censures and of books, and also in due time report thereon to this holy Synod; to the end that It may more easily separate the various and strange doctrines, as cockle from the wheat of Christian truth, and may more conveniently deliberate and determine, in regard thereof, that which shall seem best adapted to remove scruples from the minds of very many, and to do away with various causes of complaint…

“And forasmuch as this said holy Synod heartily desires, and earnestly beseeches God for the things that are for the peace of the Church, that we all, acknowledging our common mother on earth, who cannot forget the sons of her womb, with one mouth may glorify God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…

“Wherefore, in hearing this voice, not of man, but of the Holy Ghost, let them not harden their hearts…” [Council of Trent, Session 18: http://www.thecounciloftrent.com/ch18.htm].

The Church desires to protect her children, so that they may drink clean, not poisoned, water. The Church is aware that not all of her children are sufficiently armed with a knowledge of their doctrine or equipped with strong virtues. It is out of consideration for these weaker ones that the Church must shield them by means of prohibitions, so that they may not poison their minds and souls with false teachings which might rob them of this most precious treasure which they have received from God – our Faith, which is to lead us to Heaven. Only a bad mother allows her children to drink poison or take drugs. Only an institution which guarantees eternal life in Heaven will do everything so that her children may enter into heavenly happiness unstained by errors and vices.

List of Forbidden Books, Newspapers and Magazines

The 1917 Code of Canon Law in the canons 1385, 1391, 1399 and 1400 specifies these categories of books, newspapers and magazines [1]:

By the term “literature” [and books] are understood books, newspapers, magazines, and, implicitly, plays and films.

  1. Editions of Sacred Scripture without Church approbation and without commentaries (Can. 1391). Bibles published by non-Catholics are very dangerous.
  2. Books and booklets that describe new apparitions, revelations, visions, prophecies, and miracles, or that lead to new devotions, even under the pretext of being private, if they have not been published in accord with the prescriptions of the canons (Can. 1399, 5º).
  3. Books of any writer propagating heresy or schism, or attacking in any way the basis of religion (Can. 1399, 2º).
  4. Books by design striking against religion and good morals (Can. 1399, 3º).
  5. Books by any non-Catholics treating purposely of religion, unless it can be shown that nothing contained in them is contrary to the Catholic faith (Can. 1399, 4º).
  6. Books attacking or deriding any Catholic dogma (Can. 1399, 6º).
  7. Books detracting from divine cult (Can. 1399, 6º).
  8. Books arguing for the avoidance of ecclesiastical discipline (Can. 1399, 6º). This refers to those works which seriously undermine the authority of the Church, rules of celibacy, the Index, fasting, etc.
  9. Books bringing about opprobrium on religion or the clerical state (Can. 1399, 6º). This prohibition does not apply to those works which do not criticise these states, but specific persons only.
  10. Books that teach or recommend superstition in general, sorcery, divination, magic, evoking of spirits, and other things of this sort (Can. 1399, 7º).
  11. Books that argue the liceity of duelling, suicide, or divorce, and those that in discussing masonic sects and other societies of this sort argue that they are useful and not pernicious to the Church and civil society. (Can. 1399, 8º).
  12. Books that purposely describe, teach, or treat lascivious or obscene materials (Can. 1399, 9º). This applies to books, newspapers and magazines which propagate mortal sins against the virtue of chastity in a provoking and offensive manner.
  13. Editions of liturgical books approved by the Apostolic See in which there have been any changes so that they are not consistent with the authentic editions approved by the Holy See (Can. 1399, 10º).
  14. Books that give out apocryphal indulgences. (Can. 1399, 11º).
  15. Any images or impressions of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Angels and Saints or other Servants of God, alien to the sense and decrees of the Church (Can. 1399, 12º).

Can.1398 §1. A prohibition of books means that nobody is permitted without due permission to publish, read, retain, sell, translate into other languages, or in any way communicate such books to others.

(Can 1398 §1. Prohibitio librorum id efficit ut liber sine debita licentia nec edi, nec legi, nec retineri, nec vendi, nec in aliam linguam verti, nec ullo modo cum aliis communicari possit. [2])

Can 1401. Cardinals, bishops, even titulars, and all other Ordinaries of the Holy Roman Catholic Church are not bound by the ban on books, but should take necessary caution when reading them.

Can 1401. S. R. E. Cardinales, Episcopi, etiam titulares, aliique Ordinarii, necessariis adhibitis cautelis, ecclesiastica librorum prohibitione non adstringuntur.

Can 1403 §1. Whoever has obtained the permission of apostolic authority to read and retain prohibited books, does not therefore have permission to read and retain any books forbidden by his Ordinary, unless the apostolic permission explicitly refers to the reading and retaining of any forbidden books.

Can 1403 §1. Qui facultatem apostolicam consecuti sunt legendi et retinendi libros prohibitos, nequeunt ideo legere et retinere libros quoslibet a suis Ordinariis proscriptos, nisi in apostolico indulto expressa iisdem facta fuerit potestas legendi et retinendi libros a quibuslibet damnatos.

 

Church Punishment

Canon 2318 of the Code of Canon Law (CIC) states:

Can 2318 §1. Publishers of apostates’, heretics’ and schismatics’ books which propagate apostasy, heresy and schism, and also those who defend, or who knowingly read or retain, these or similar books without apostolic permission… incur…excommunication.

Can 2318 §1. In excommunicationem Sedi Apostolicae speciali modo reservatam ipso facto incurrunt, opere publici iuris facto, editores librorum apostatarum, haereticorum et schismaticorum, qui apostasiam, haeresim, schisma propugnant, itemque eosdem libros aliosve per apostolicas litteras nominatim prohibitos defendentes aut scienter sine debita licentia legentes vel retinentes.

 

What belongs to dangerous literature today?

My position as a bishop

We, who wish to remain Catholics, must also observe the teaching of the Church regarding forbidden literature. If we do not want wish to endanger our souls by occasions of sin, we must try to avoid literature forbidden in the above list. We must also include books by authors belonging to the modernist sect, which unlawfully uses the title of Catholic Church.

These precautions apply as well to reprinting of works of Catholic literature, where a great danger of distortion or deliberate mistranslation to the vernacular of the text sets in. Quotations are taken from a so-called ecumenical Bible or from other Bibles, which were forbidden in former times, and used in traditional works of Catholic literature.

In Slovakia there is a new form of barbarianism – revived treasure of Catholic literature are intentionally distorted, or entire chapters are deliberately omitted, purely in order to adapt the work to the modernist spirit. And so, for example, even Holy Scripture was adjusted to the new words of consecration used in the new mass. That is why, at the Last Supper, we do not anymore read the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which humanity has known for nearly 2000 years, but new, heretical words, which Christ never spoke. Other passages in Holy Scripture have also undergone similar distortion.

In the new edition of History of the Church, entire passages about General Franco, the Lutherans, etc., have been omitted, so that by chance we might not offend the socialists, who stood up against Franco, or so that we might not offend the Protestants.

In Philothea by St. Francis de Sales, the portrayal of heretics has been distorted, since the word “heretic” is unpopular among today’s sect of modernists. There are also many other revisions of classic Catholic literature which are intentionally adapted to fit the destructive, ecumenical spirit of the present-day modernist sect reigning in the Vatican. This is the ultimate sign of barbarianism and disrespect towards our saints and it is thus a type of sacrilege.

Today, various magazines and newspapers, which deride religious principles, belong to prohibited literature as well. This also applies to numerous television programmes, which promote violence and sins against purity.

Finally, forbidden literature also includes brochures propagating the diabolical “Marian” apparitions in Medjugorje, Litmanova and other places.

Let everyone who needs to use forbidden literature for academic purposes, or for other important reasons, turn to me for a dispensation. This is a norm of our Catholic tradition.

Paul VI’s abolition of the Index only reaffirms that he could not be the lawful pope; this also applies to John Paul II, who holds the same opinion as Paul VI. The very fact that the modernist sect has not resumed the Index, but permits its members to read everything is proof that it wrongly calls itself the Catholic Church. The ultimate level of recklessness is giving one’s members poison to drink instead of clean water.

Bp Oliver Oravec

 

The above article appeared in the magazine “Hlas Katolíckej Tradície” (The Voice of Catholic Tradition), no. 25 (1997), p. 1-6.


Footnotes:

[1] 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law: In English Translation with Extensive Scholarly Apparatus, translated by Dr. Edward N. Peters, 2001, Ignatius Press. Partly available online at: https://books.google.de/books?id=2XbtF6Y21LUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22canon+law%22&hl=de&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwil6bf6oJXMAhVK6xQKHaoEDHIQ6AEIODAC#v=onepage&q=%22canon%20law%22&f=false

[2] 1917 Codex Iudici Canonis, available online at: http://www.jgray.org/codes/cic17lat.html

[3] For the full list of books on the Index, click here: http://www.cvm.qc.ca/gconti/905/BABEL/Index%20Librorum%20Prohibitorum-1948.htm

 

Further reading:

Year of Condemnation 07: The Index of Forbidden Books

 

 

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