Popes Condemned the Bible Societies
November 28, 2023
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The following is excerpted from A History of the Churches from a Baptist Perspective, www.wayoflilfe.org -

A History of the Churches
Bible Societies multiplied in that century and distributed Bibles throughout the world. The British & Foreign Bible Society was the first in 1804. This was followed by the formation of Bible Societies in America (the Philadelphia Bible Society of 1808), Scotland (1809), Russia (1813), Iceland (1815), Norway (1816), Australia (1817), Greece (1819), Colombia (1825), South Africa (1831), New Zealand (1846), and the Philippines (1900).

Most of the Bibles were published “without note or comment.” They were distributed for free or for a small price. But instead of rejoicing at this, the popes were angry and condemned the Bible Societies.

a. In 1816, Pope Pius VIII condemned the Bible Society of Poland. He called Bible distribution “a most crafty device, by which the very foundations of religion are undermined.” He called it “a defilement of the faith, eminently dangerous to souls.” He said that the distribution of Bibles “produces more harm than benefit.” He put all Bibles printed by the “heretic” Bible Societies on the Index of Prohibited Books.

b. In 1824, Pope Leo XII condemned Bible distribution. He said to the bishops of Ireland, “[B]e persuaded, that if the sacred Scriptures be everywhere indiscriminately published, more evil than advantage will arise thence” (R.P. Blakeney,
Popery in Its Social Aspects, p. 136).

c. In 1836 and 1844, Pope Gregory XVI condemned the distribution of Bibles. He commended the Council of Trent’s prohibition “against the publication, distribution, reading, and possession of books of the Holy Scriptures translated into the vulgar tongue” (J.A. Wylie,
The Papacy, p. 182).

d. In 1846, Pope Pius IX condemned the Bible societies as following in the steps of “ancient heretics.” He concluded his encyclical by praising Mary as “our our mediatrix, advocate, our firmest hope, the source of our confidence, and whose protection is most powerful and most efficacious with God.”

e. In 1870, a papal law required that copies of the Bible found in the possession of visitors to the Vatican City be confiscated (Philip Schaff,
History of the Christian Church, VI, p. 727).

f. In 1887, Pope Leo XIII placed the French Bible produced by Henri Lasserre on the index of prohibited books (Alexander Robertson,
The Papal Conquest, 1909, p. 161).

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