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

Repercussions of not Following the Index

We will now look at the repercussions of going against the Church and reading the forbidden books. One might assume “from the wording of the prohibitions that any and all of the Indexes, published under the direction of such ecclesiastical authorities as those specified, must have been intended to be equally binding on all the faithful, irrespective of political or ecclesiastical boundaries. We know, however, as a matter of history, that, in the majority of cases, no attempt was made to enforce the prohibitions of the Index outside of the territory of the State in which it had been promulgated” (Putnam 1906, v.1 p.4). One might think that since the Church went to all the work creating the Index that they would enforce the following of it more stringently but in practice they did not. “It is difficult to secure any trustworthy information as to the precise range of the effectiveness of these prohibitions, but it seems probable that the Roman Indexes were held to be in force outside of the immediate territory of the Church only after they had been formally accepted and promulgated by the authorities, ecclesiastical and political, of the individual States, such as Spain, France, the Empire, etc.” (Putnam 1906, v.1 p.4). Although the Church was very stringent about what books were acceptable to read and what were not this did not influence the outside world as much as one might expect.

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.