The Roman Catholic Church's Index

By Cera Schachter

Precursors to the Creation of the Index
Lifespan of the Index
Repercussions of not Following the Index
Demise of the Index
Work Cited

Demise of the Index

It took quite some time for the Index to end, nearly 400 years. One precursor to the fall of the Index was the fact that less people were following it. In the United States the Church never gained a foothold on the production of books. “The rigid separation of Church and state laid down by the United States constitution also meant that no Church could play an official role in the suppression of books” (John-Stevas 1962, p.105). “In countries affected by the Reformation, it was not long before the Index ceased to have any legal force; but it continues to bind the consciences of Roman Catholics, and its influence, in conjunction with the control exercised over authorship, on freedom of thought cannot be ignored” (Craig 1963, p.19). The Church’s Index had less power over the people and in the end the “…last edition was published in 1948, with a list of more than 4,000 titles, mostly obscure titles disapproved for doctrinal reasons, but including also some of the masterworks of the Western world. Publication of the Index ceased in 1966” (Haight and Grannis 1978, p. 105). The Index ended in 1966 when Pope Paul VI abolished it following the end of the Second Vatican Council (wikipedia). Some of the more popular authors that were listed within the Index over the years include Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, John Stuart Mill, John Milton, John Locke and Thomas Hobbes.

This paper was originally written in December 2006 as part of the course requirements for LIS 586: History of the Book.
It has been updated and converted to a web document to meet the requirements of LIS 600: Capping Exercise.
Created by Cera Schachter on February 27,2007.