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Myth #3 :
Catholic Church Prohibited Bible Reading. 
And she desired to prevent Catholics from reading the Bible before Vatican II ?

It is a common myth that Bible reading was prohibited or at least discouraged by the Catholic Church from the Council of Trent until Vatican II, 1962 AD.  This myth is so widespread that it is accepted as an “historical fact” by many.  The fact this myth is so easily disproved and yet still so wide spread is proof of the deep seated anti-Catholic prejudice of our culture. 

All one has to do is to examine Catholic Bibles during this time period and one can see how the Popes and the Bishops of the Church clearly promoted Bible reading and study. (see exception to the Rule.) This was done very prominently on the opening pages of such Bibles.  For example, see these Bibles below.

1957 Catholic Bible
1884 Catholic Bible
1829 Catholic Bible for School Children


1957 Bible




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1957 Bible


Date of Printing,  1957 AD




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1957 Bible

In the opening pages this Bible contains a copy of Pope Pius XII’s Enclyclical on the Reading of the Sacred Scriptures
Divino Afflante Spiritu,  1943 September 30th

(9.)  “Our Predecessors, when the opportunity occurred, recommended the study or preaching or in fine the pious reading and meditation on the Sacred Scriptures.”


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1957 Bible

It also states:

(57). … “ For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid: which is Christ Jesus.[38] This author of salvation, Christ, will men more fully know, more ardently love and faithfully imitate in proportion as they are more assiduously urged to know and meditate the Sacred Letters, especially the New Testament, for, as St. Jerome the Doctor of Stridon says:  To ignore the Scripture is to ignore Christ


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1957 Bible

This Bible also encourages a devout pray to the Holy Spirit of for guidance in understanding what is written.

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1957 Bible

Picture of Jesus


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1884 AD Catholic Bible


The Cover with clasp


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1884 AD Catholic Bible

Date of Printing :1884, a reprint of an 1883 edition


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1884 AD Catholic Bible


It was intended for Catholic Families as well as parish use.

Cardinal McCloskey, Archbishop of New York, gives his endorsement to the edition published a year earlier in 1883.



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1884 AD Catholic Bible

This Bible has numerous pictures. Shortly after World War I my Grandfather used this edition to teach my Father while he was still a toddler the stories of the Bible by explaining the pictures to him before he knew how to read.



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1884 AD Catholic Bible

This 1884 Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible on its opening pages printed the approbation – or official approval or sanctioning of it – from over two dozen American Bishops.


see below

1884 AD Catholic Bible

Bishop O’Regan, of Chicago writes that he “would wish to see it (this Bible) in every clergyman’s library and in every family.”

Numerous Bishops and Archbishops in America gave their full support and endorsement to this Haydock English Language Catholic Bible as can be seen in these photographs. 

These include: 

Bishop Fitzpatrick, of Boston,

Bishop O’Reilly of Hartford,

Bishop Rappe, of Cleveland,

Bishop O’Regan, of Chicago,

Bishop Miles, of Nashville,

Archbishop Spalding, of Baltimore,

Bishop Chanche, of Natchez,

Very Rev. Father Mathew,

Right Rev. Dr. Wareing, Bishop of Ariopolis,

Cardinal Wiseman, Archbishop of Westminister,

Right Rev. Dr. Biggs, Bishop of Trachis,

Right Rev. George Brown, Bishop of TLOA,

Right Rev. Dr. T. J. Brown, Bishop of Apollonia.


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1884 AD Catholic Bible

It was also endorsed by   

Very Rev. Dr. Walsh, Administrator of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia,

Bishop Shanahan, of Harrisburg,

Bishop Loughlin, of Brooklyn,

Bishop Wigger, of Newark, N.J.,

Bishop O’Farrell, Trenton, N.J.,


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1884 AD Catholic Bible

Also includes the approbations of: 

Archbishop Hughes of New York, 

Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati,

Archbishop Blanc of New Orleans,

Archbishop Kenrick, St. Louis,

Archbishop M’Closkey of New York,

Bishop Wood, of Philadelphia,

Bishop Lefevre, of Detroit,

Archbishop Hughes of New York writes, “Having examined the New Illustrated Edition of Haydock’s Bible, now in course of publication, under the revision of the learned and Very Reverend Dr. Husenbeth, and approved by many distinguished Bishops in Great Britain and Ireland, I cheerfully give it my humble approbation also, having entire confidence in the testimony of the Illustrious Prelates by whom it has been so generally recommended.”

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1884 AD Catholic Bible

Table of Contents


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1884 AD Catholic Bible

Opposite the Table of Contents is a reprint of a letter of Pope Pius the Sixth dated 1778, April 1st  AD.  It reads as follows  (the “Vulgar Tongue” means the common language of the people):

Text Box: ("1
The Following Letter Of His Holiness Pius The Sixth, To The Most Rev. Anthony Martini, Archbishop Of Florence, On His Translation Of The Holy Bible Into Italian, Shews The Benefit Which The Faithful May Reap From Their Having The Holy Scriptures In The Vulgar Tongue.


BELOVED SON : Health and apostolic benediction. At a time that a vast number of bad books, which most grossly attack the Catholic religion, are circulated even among the unlearned, to the great destruction of souls, you judge exceedingly well, that the faithful should be excited to the reading of the Holy Scriptures : for these are the most abundant sources which ought to be left open to every one, to draw from them purity of morals and of doctrine, to eradicate the errors which are widely dis­seminated in these corrupt times : this you have seasonably effected, as you declare, by publishing the sacred writings in the language of your country, suitable to every one's capacity ...
Given at Rome, on the calends of April, 1778, the fourth year of our pontificate.


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1829 Catholic Bible for School Children

See more statements by

Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903 AD)

Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914 AD)

Pope Benedict XV   (1914-1922 AD)   

Problems began when Protestants started putting slanderous accusations and inflammatory comments in the marginal notes of their Bibles.  At this time of course, the Catholic Church did implement appropriate restrictions so that the practice of Bible reading would remain fruitful.  As those problems were abated the restrictions were lifted.

See the article: 

Reasons why the Catholic Church disapproved of Protestant Bibles.


Myths About the Catholic Church and the Bible

Bible  Reading  Prohibited  ?

Myth #1
The Catholic Church prevented the people from reading the Bible by keeping it in Latin.  Reply:  Not so.  See how to prove that an Englishmen would have been more likely to have been able to read Latin than English in the 16th Century.

Myth #2
The Church chained the Bible to prevent people from reading it.



Exception to the Rule.

With the Church being so big there can always be found some who fall outside the practice or norm established by the Popes.  But, then to be Catholic is to be in union with the Pope and not against his teachings.  There is a case after Vatican II where a priest was very disappointed that some members left the Church and Jesus in the Eucharist to join a Protestant led Bible study fellowship.  It seems as though some of these ex-Catholics had fallen into a type of clericalism where they had expected their priest to be somewhat god-like and be capable of knowing and remembering every answer to every polemical and “biblical” argument against the Church.  Since the priest could not answer their argument against the Church they used that encounter as a justification for leaving the Church.  Out of frustration and the desire to preserve their unity with Jesus in the Eucharist the priest mistakenly told them to not bother reading the Bible.  While understandable, this is contrary to the overall expressed wishes of the Popes.  Unfortunately, it became not totally unknown for some priests to express teachings contrary to our Holy Father, the Pope, after Vatican II.  However, it was much more rare to find this type of deviation before Vatican II.


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