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Notification regarding the abolition of the Index of books


After the Apostolic Letter Integrae Servandae given motu proprio on December 7, 1965, a number of requests were received by the Holy See to know the status of the Index of prohibited books which the Church has used, until now, according to its divine mandate, to safeguard the integrity of the faith and of morals.

To respond to the above-mentioned questions, this Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, after having asked the Holy Father, announces that the Index remains morally binding, in light of the demands of natural law, in so far as it admonishes the conscience of Christians to be on guard for those writings that can endanger faith and morals. But, at the same time, it no longer has the force of ecclesiastical law with the attached censure.

In this matter, the Church trusts in the mature conscience of the faithful, and especially the authors, the Catholic publishers, and those concerned with the education of the youth. The Church places its most firm hope in the vigilant care of the individual Ordinaries and of the Episcopal Conferences, who have both the right and the duty to examine and also to prevent the publication of harmful books and, when it may be the case, to rebuke the authors and to admonish them.

The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to the spirit of the Apostolic Letter Integrae Servandae and the Decrees of the Second Vatican Council, places itself at the full disposition of the Ordinaries, in so far as necessary, to assist their diligence in evaluating published works, and in promoting a healthy culture in opposition to an insidious one, with the close collaboration of the Institutes and the ecclesiastical Universities.

If, however, doctrines and opinions publicly emerge that are contrary to the principles of the faith and morals, and their authors do not correct these errors after being benevolently invited to do so, the Holy See will use its right and duty to issue reprimands about these writings, even publicly, to provide for the good of souls with appropriate firmness.

Therefore, appropriate provisions are to be made to notify the faithful about the judgment of the Church on published works.

Given in Rome from the Holy Office, June 14, 1966.

+ Cardinal A. Ottaviani
Pro-Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

+ P. Parente