During the meetings, they reviewed various works and documented those discussions. In between the meetings was when the works to be discussed were thoroughly examined, and each work was scrutinized by two people. At the meetings, they collectively decided whether or not the works should be included in the Index. Ultimately, the pope was the one who had to approve of works being added or removed from the Index. It was the documentation from the meetings of the congregation that aided the pope in making his decision. This sometimes resulted in very long lists of corrections, published in the Index Expurgatorius, which was cited by Thomas James in as "an invaluable reference work to be used by the curators of the Bodleian library when listing those works particularly worthy of collecting".
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Publication of the list ceased in , and it was relegated to the status of a historic document. Compiled by official censors, the Index was an implementation of one part of the teaching function of the Roman Catholic church: to prevent the contamination of the faith or the corruption of morals through the reading of theologically erroneous or immoral books.
It was not, therefore, equivalent to the total legislation of the church regulating reading by Roman Catholics; nor was it ever a complete catalog of forbidden reading. Until , canon law prescribed two main forms of control over literature: the censorship of books by Roman Catholics in advance of publication, in regard to matters of faith and morals a practice still followed ; and the condemnation of published books that were judged to be harmful.
The works appearing on the Index are only those that ecclesiastical authority was asked to act upon. Paul Acts The decree of Pope Gelasius I about , which contained lists of recommended as well as banned books, has been described as the first Roman Index.
The first catalog of forbidden books to include in its title the word index, however, was published in by the Sacred Congregation of the Roman Inquisition a precursor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The last and 20th edition of the Index appeared in The list was suppressed in June Learn More in these related Britannica articles:.
Index Librorum Prohibitorum
Index librorum prohibitorum