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Back in the Day: the Vatican lifts its ban on bad books

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Back in the Day: the Vatican lifts its ban on bad books


June 14, 1966: Pope Paul VI formally abolishes the Catholic Church’s ban on books deemed immoral or theologically inaccurate. The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was created by Pope Paul IV in 1559 with the 20th and last edition appearing in 1948. Books were banned for reasons including heresy, moral deficiency or sexual explicitness. Some works that are today considered the foundations of science, such as Johannes Kepler’s ‘New Astronomy and World Harmony’ appeared on the index as well as certain books by Milton, Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Stendhal. The list included the complete life’s work of writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Emile Zola and Balzac. Although the Index has had no ecclesiastic legal basis since 1966, it is still retains a ‘moral force’ according to the Vatican.

Also on June 14: The Battle of Naseby in the English Civil War (1645); US Congress adopts the Stars and Stripes as the national flag (1777); Norway gives women the right to vote (1907); Argentina surrenders to Britain, marking the end of the Falklands War (1982).

Born on June 14: Che Guevara (1928), Donald Trump (1946), Boy George (1961), Steffi Graf (1969).

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