450 years in the Vatican’s bad books

14th June marks the 50th anniversary of the abolition of the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list banning heretical, unholy, and lascivious books.


In 1966 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided no longer to publish the Index, however, they did maintain that the list should still be considered a “moral guide in so far as it reminds the conscience of the faithful they must avoid writings which can be dangerous to faith and morals.”

Included on the list of “dangerous” authors is:

Rabelais, Montaigne, Descartes, La Fontaine , Pascal, Montesquieu , Voltaire , Jean-Jacques, Rousseau, Denis Diderot, Casanova, Marquis de Sade, Stendhal, Balzac, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Alexandre Dumas, Emile Zola, Anatole France, Andre Gide, Jean Paul Sartre, Machiavelli, John Calvin, John Milton, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne, Emmanuel Kant, John Stewart Mill.

However, among the notable absentees from the collection of writers and books deemed heretical by the vatican was Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species.

While even now, the Vatican can issue an ‘Admonitum’ warning Catholics against books which could cause harm, however, unlike the original Index Librorum Prohibitorum it is no longer considered to be a part of full ecclesiastical law.


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