Understanding the Catholic Church’s Stance on Reading Scripture in the Vernacular

The question of whether the Catholic Church forbids the reading of Scripture in the vernacular (common languages) is one that requires a nuanced understanding of Church teaching and history. Contrary to some misconceptions, the Church does not forbid the reading of Scripture in vernacular languages. In fact, the Catholic Church actively encourages the faithful to engage with the Holy Scriptures.

The Role of Catholic Societies in Promoting Scripture Reading

One notable way the Church promotes the reading of Scripture is through various Catholic societies dedicated to this purpose. A prime example is the Society of St. Jerome, which has received the Church’s approval. The Society of St. Jerome, among others, plays a significant role in making the Holy Gospels accessible in the vernacular, thus fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of God’s word among the laity.

Papal Endorsements of Scripture Reading

Historically, popes have actively encouraged the reading of Scripture. Pope Pius X, for instance, granted special blessings to those who read Scripture daily and also to those who encourage others to engage with the Scriptures. This papal endorsement underscores the importance that the Church places on Scripture as a means of spiritual nourishment and growth.

The Importance of Church Teaching in Interpreting Scripture

While advocating for the reading of Scripture, the Church emphasizes the necessity of keeping the teachings of the living Church in mind. This is seen as essential for unlocking the true sense of the Bible. The Douay–Rheims Bible, a translation revered for its adherence to traditional Catholic teaching, offers insight into this perspective. As stated in 2 Peter 1:20, “Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation.” This verse highlights the Church’s view that personal interpretation must be informed and guided by the Church’s teachings to truly grasp the essence of the Scriptures.


In conclusion, the Catholic Church not only permits but actively encourages the reading of Scripture in the vernacular. Through the support of societies like the Society of St. Jerome and the endorsements of popes, the faithful are invited to immerse themselves in the Holy Scriptures. However, this engagement with Scripture is to be always complemented by a deep respect and adherence to the teachings of the Church, which provide the key to understanding the true message of the Bible.

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