Tridentine Index  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Pope Pius IV promulgated in 1564 the so called Tridentine Index, the basis of all later librorum prohibitorum lists until Pope Leo XIII, in 1897, published his Index Leonianus.

While the Index of Paul IV contained substantially only a list of prohibited books and writers, the Tridentine Index consists of two divisions, the so-called ten rules, and the list of writings.

Ten Rules

from the Censorship of the Church of Rome and Its Influence Upon the Production and Distribution of Literature

The Ten Rules of the Tridentine Index ^

I. All books condemned by the supreme pontiffs, or general coimcils, before the year 15 15, and not comprised in the present Index, are, nevertheless, to be considered as condemned.

II. The books of heresiarchs, whether of those who broached or disseminated their heresies prior to the year above-mentioned, or of those who have been, or are, the heads or leaders of heretics, as Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Balthasar, Pacimontanus, Swenchfeld, and others similar, are altogether forbidden, whatever may be their titles or subjects. And the books of other heretics, which treat professedly upon religion, are totally condemned; but those which do not treat upon religion are allowed to be read, after having been

» The translation is that of Townley, ii, 429-485.


The Ten Rules 183

examined and approved by Catholic divines by order of the bishops and inquisitors. Those Catholic books also are permitted to be read which have been com- posed by authors who have afterwards fallen into heresy, or who, after their fall, have returned into the bosom of the Church, provided these have been approved by the theological faculty of some Catholic imiversity, or by the general Inquisition.

III. Translations of ecclesiastical writers, which have been hitherto published by condemned authors, are permitted to be read, if they contain nothing contrary to sound doctrine. Translations of the Old Testament may also be allowed, but only to learned and pious men, at the discretion of the bishop; provided they use them merely as elucidations of the Vulgate version, as a means of understanding the Holy Scriptures, and not in place of the sacred text itself. But translations of the New Testament made by authors of the first class of this Index are allowed to no one, since little advantage, but much danger, generally arises from reading them. If notes accompany the versions which are allowed to be read, or are joined to the Vulgate edition, they may be permitted to be read by the same persons as the versions, after the suspected places have been expimged by the theological faculty of some Catholic university, or by the general inquisitor. On the same conditions, also, pious and learned men may be permitted to have what is called the Bible of Vatablus, or any part of it. But the preface and Prolegomena of the Bible published by Isodorus Clarius are, however, excepted; and the text of his editions is not to be considered as the text of the Vulgate edition.

IV. Inasmuch as it is manifest from experience that


The Ten Rules

if the Holy Bible, translated into the vulgar tongue, be indiscriminately allowed to every one, the temerity of men will cause more evil than good to arise from it, this matter is referred to the judgment of the bishops, or inquisitors, who may, by the advice of the priest, or confessor, permit the reading of the Bible, translated into the vulgar tongue by Catholic authors, to those persons whose faith and piety, they apprehend, will be augmented, and not injured, by it; and this permission they must have in writing. But if any one shall have the presumption to read or possess it without permission, he shall not receive absolution until he have first delivered up such Bible to the ordinary. Booksellers, however, who shall sell or otherwise dispose of Bibles in the vulgar tongue to any person not having such permission, shall forfeit the value of the books, to be applied by the bishop to some pious use ; and be subjected to such other penalties as the bishop shall judge proper, according to the quality of the offence. But regulars shall neither read nor purchase such Bibles without a special license from their superiors.

V. Books of which heretics are the editors, but which contain little or nothing of their own, being mere compilations from others, as lexicons, concordances, apophthegms, similies. Indexes, and others of a similar kind, may be allowed by the bishops and inquisitors, after there have been made, with the advice of Catholic divines, such corrections and emendations as may be deemed requisite.

VI. Books of controversy betwixt the Catholics and heretics of the present time, written in the vulgar tongue, are not to be indiscriminately allowed, but are to be subject to the same regulations as Bibles in

The Ten Rules 185

the vulgar tongue. As to those works in the vulgar tongue which treat of morality, contemplation, con- fession, and similar subjects, and which contain nothing contrary to sound doctrine, there is no reason why they should be prohibited; the same may be said also of sermons in the vulgar tongue, designed for the people. And if in any kingdom or province, any books have been hitherto prohibited as containing things not proper to be read without selection by all sorts of persons, they may after correction, if written by Catholic authors, be allowed by the bishop and inquisitor.

VII. Books professedly treating of lascivious or ob- scene subjects, or narrating or teaching these, are utterly prohibited, since not only faith but morals, which are readily corrupted by the perusal of them, are to be considered; and those who possess them shall be severely pimished by the bishop. But the works of antiquity, written by the heathen, are per- mitted to be read, because of the elegance and propriety of the language; though on no accoimt shall they be suffered to be read by young persons.

VIII. Books, the principal subject of which is good, but in which some things are occasionally introduced tending to heresy and impiety, divination, or superstL tion, may be allowed, after they have been corrected by Catholic divines, xmder the authority of the gen- eral Inquisition. The same judgment is also given concerning prefaces, summaries, or notes, taken from condemned authors, and inserted in the works of authors not condemned; but such works must not be printed in future, until they have been amended.

IX. All books and writings of geomancy, hydro- mancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, onomancy, cheiro-

1 86 The Ten Rules

mancy, and necromancy; or which treat of sorceries, poisons, auguries, auspices, or magical incantations are utterly rejected. The bishops shall also diligently guard against any persons reading or keeping any books, treatises, or indexes which treat of judicial astrology or contain presumptuous predictions of the events of future contingencies, and fortuitous occurrences, or of those actions which depend upon the will of man. But such opinions and observations of natural things as are written in aid of navigation, agriculture, and medicine are permitted.

X. In the printing of books or other writings, the rules shall be observed which were ordained in the tenth session of the Council of Lateran, under Leo X. There- fore, if any book is to be printed in the city of Rome, it shall first be examined by the vicar of the pope or by the master of the sacred palace or by other persons chosen by our most holy Father for that purpose. In places other than Rome, the examination of any book or manuscript intended to be printed shall be referred to the bishop with whom shall be associated the inquisitor of heretical pravity of the city or diocese in which the printing is done, and these officials shall without charge, and without delay, affix their appro- bation to the work, in their own handwriting, such approval being subject, however, to the pains and censures contained in the said decree; there is the further condition, that an authentic copy of the book to be printed, signed by the author himself, shall remain in the hands of the examiner; and it is the judgment of the Fathers of the present deputation that those persons who publish works in manuscript before these have been examined and approved, should be subject to the same penalties as those who print

The Ten Rules 187

them; and that those who read or possess such books should be considered as the authors, if the real authors of such writings do not avow themselves. The approbation given in writing 'shall be placed at the head of the books, whether printed or in manuscript, that they may appear to be duly authorised ; and this examination and approbation, etc., shall be granted gratuitously.

Moreover, in every city and diocese, the houses or places in which the work of printing is carried on, and also the shops of booksellers, shall be frequently visited by persons deputed for that purpose by the bishop or his vicar, conjointly with the inquisitor of heretical pravity, so that nothing that is prohibited may be printed, kept, or sold. Booksellers of every description shall keep in their libraries a catalogue, signed by the said deputies, of the books which they have on sale, nor shall they keep, or sell, nor in any way dispose of, any other books, without permission from the deputies, imder pain of forfeiting the books, and of liability to such other penalties as shall be judged proper by the bishop or inquisitor, who shall also pimish the buyers, readers, or printers of such works. If any persons import foreign books into any city, they shall be obliged to annoimce them to the deputies; or if this kind of merchandise be exposed to sale in any public place, the public officers of the place shall signify to the said deputies that such books have been brought ; and no one shall presume to read, or lend, or sell any book which he or any other person has brought into the city, until he has shown it to the deputies, and obtained their permission, unless it be a work well known to be universally allowed.

Heirs and testamentary executors shall make no use

i88 The Ten Rules

of the books of the deceased, nor in any way transfer them to others, until they have presented a catalogue of them to the deputies, and have obtained their license, under pain of confiscation of the books, or the infliction of such other punishment as the bishop or inquisitor shall deem proper, according to the con- tumacy or quality of the delinquent.

With regard to those books which the Fathers of the present deputation shall examine, or correct, or deliver to be corrected, or permit to be reprinted on certain conditions, booksellers and others shall be bound to observe whatever is ordained respecting them. The bishops and general inquisitors shall, nevertheless, be at liberty, according to the authority they possess, to prohibit also such books as may appear to be permitted by these rules, if they deem such prohibition necessary for the good of the kingdom or province or diocese; and the secretary of these Fathers, shall, according to the command of our holy Father, transmit to the notary of the general inquisitor the names of the books that have been corrected, as well as of the persons to whom the Fathers have granted the power of examination. Finally, it is enjoined on all the faithful that no one presume to keep or read any books contrary to these rRules, or prohibited by this Index. But if any one read or keep any books composed by heretics, or the writings of any author suspected of excommimication, and those who read or keep works interdicted on another account, in addition to the burden of mortal sin, shall, .at the discretion of the bishops, be severely punished.

In advance of the Rules are printed the Bull of the Pope, dated Rome, March 24, 1564, and a preface by Francis Forerius, secretary of the deputation or com-

Notes on the Ten Rules 189

mission which had been charged with the compilation of the Index. Forerius states that this Index is in- tended to take the place of that prepared at Rome by the inquisitors (that of Paul IV) because that had included certain books which did not deserve to be prohibited, and also because it had not been generally accepted.

Notes on the Ten Rules

I. This follows in substance the regulation of Paul IV. Six tus added: " To be excepted are certain books which, notwithstanding the errors contained in them, the Church has f oimd it desirable to preserve as records of ecclesiastical traditions and old-time usages, or as evidence to be used in the specification and condemna- tion of heretical doctrines, as is set forth in the decree of Pope Gelasius I" (492). Gelasius, however, does not prohibit the reading of the condemned books, and in fact no such prohibitions occur before the i6th century.

II. A somewhat similar distinction between heresi- archs and ordinary heretics finds place in Louvain, 1546. The definition of heresiarchs might, however, have been made a little more precise for the information of the faithful, or a complete list of them might have been given, as was done later by Quiroga (1594) and by Sixtus.

III. The later Indexes of Sixtus(i585), Alexander VII (1655), and Benedict XIV (1756) proscribed, with some slight modifications in the wording, all editions of the Scriptures edited or printed by heretics. Alexander added, " the Holy Script or any portions of the same which have, since 15 15, been printed in metrical form." Benedict restricts this prohibition to metrical versions produced by heretics.


I90 Notes on the Ten Rules

IV. Paul IV had permitted the reading of the Bible in the vernacular only under authorisation of the Inqui- sition. Sixtus replaced the milder regulation of Trent with his rule No. 7. The possession of the Scriptures or of portions of the Scriptures printed in the popular tongue is prohibited except under special authority of the Curia. Paraphrases in the vernacular are unconditionally condemned. In later Indexes, the prohibition was extended to cover all " summaries" and historical compends of the Bible in the vulgar tongue. The acceptance of these prohibitions varied in different lands and in different times. In Spain, a Bible had been printed in the dialect of Valentia as early as 1478. The first issue in the vernacular after that date was that of 1790, edited by San Miguel, later Bishop of Segovia. A second appeared in 1823, edited by Amat, Bishop of Barcelona.

The Lisbon Index of 1624 not only confirmed the prohibition of Bibles and parts of the Bible, but added a new restriction in forbidding the use in works of general literature (printed in the vernacular) of any extracts from the Scriptures. This order called for the cancellation, for instance, in the Shepherds of Bethle- hem of Lope de Vega, of the poet's versions of the Magnificat, the Benedictus, the Nunc Dimittis, and the Miserere. In Italy, previous to 1560, a number of translations of the Scriptures had been issued, but after the prohibitions of Paul IV and of the Index of Trent, we find record of Italian versions only of the Psalms and a few other portions, and these could be read only with a formal permission. In 1596, Clement VIII authorised the publication, by the Order of Jesus, of an edition in the vernacular of the portions of the Gospels selected for reading on Sundays and

Notes on the Ten Rules 191

Saints' days. It would appear, however, as if north of the Alps, this proscription of the Scriptures in the vernacular failed to secure any general enforcement, as during the i6th and 17 th centuries a large series of editions of the Scriptures and of the New Testament were brought into print from Catholic translations, in French, German, Bohemian, Hungarian, and Polish. The Jestiit Serarius, writing in 161 2, complains that " any one in Germany can read the Bibles of Eck or Dietenberger, and in place of being reprimanded and pimished by their bishops and confessors, the delin- quents are likely to be commended and honoured."

V. Sixtus orders further that the name of the hereti- cal publisher of the work must be cancelled and that of the " Expurgator" must be specified. Benedict directs that dictionaries, thesaiiri, and similar works compiled by heretics, "like the publications of the Stephani, Scapula, J. J. Hofmann, etc.," must, before being "permitted," be thoroughly "expurgated" of all material which may be antagonistic to the Catholic faith.

VI. Sixtus directs that books written in the vemacu-. lar which combat the doctrines of the Jews and Moham- medans, shall be read only imder authorisation of the Inquisition. In Germany, the prohibition against the reading of controversial books printed in the vernacular secured very little obedience and such books came, during the i6th century, into very wide circulation.

VII. In the Index of Patd, there is recorded tmder this heading a group of Priapean literature connected (erroneously) with the name of Virgil, The only other classic author condemned as obscene is Lucian. In the Lisbon Index of 1624, it is specified that the Epigrams of Martial can be permitted only after

192 Notes on the Ten Rules

expurgation, or in the text edited by the Jesuits Fusius, Radius, and Augerius. Ovid's erotic poems are per- mitted " for private reading, " but for students only the Epistolae Selectae SiS edited at Toumay, 1615. Sixtus prohibits also obscene pictures and collections of music containing amatory songs.

X. In 1625, the Inquisition of Rome issued an order prohibiting any resident of the States of the Church from printing a book without the permission, if within the city of Rome, of the cardinal vicar and the Magister of the palace, or if without the city, of the local bishop. Alexander VII announced in the Bull of 1664, which accompanied his Index, that only those penalties were still in force which were specified in this tenth Rule and in the Bulla Coenae. Under this decision, the excommunication latae sententiae became no longer applicable to those who might read writings of heretics but still held good for the reading of books actually specified in the Index, of vernacular versions of the Scrip- tures and controversial works, and of works classed as obscene.

The enforcement in Germany of the penalties prescribed in Rule X was a matter of dispute among the theologians as had before been the authority of the Bulla Coenae. In 1869, these penalties were rescinded by the Bull of Pius IX. In the same Bull, however, Pius retained the "reserved excommunication" for the printing, reading, etc., of books which had been specifically condemned (by titles), not by the Inquisi- tion, but by direct apostolic authority (papal Bulls, briefs, or encyclicals). This specification would appar- ently cover the books listed in the two Indexes issued imder the direct authority of Pius IX and probably

The Index of Trent, 1564 193

holds good also for the works contained in the two Indexes of Leo XIII.

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