What to Do When Pope Francis Tells You Not to Pray the “Rogue” Psalms

“Do you not know that so much reading of Scripture ruins the Catholic religion?” an incandescent Pope Paul V asked the Venetian ambassador Francesco Contarini in 1606.

The Italian historian Gigliola Fragnito, in her captivating book on Rome’s censorship of the Bible La Bibbia al rogo: La censura ecclesiastica e i volgarizzamenti della Scrittura (1471-1605), records how the imperious pontiff “exploded furiously” at the hapless envoy.

Half a millennium later Pope Paul V’s successor, Pope Francis, is pulpit-bullying Catholics into blotting out the “offensive” psalms from their devotions.

“Not all Psalms — and not every part of every Psalm — can be repeated and assimilated by Christians, and even less by modern man,” Francis preached at his General Audience on June 19, in a sermon bordering on the ancient Marcionite heresy (which treated the Old Testament as sub-Christian).

“At times, they reflect a historical context and a religious mentality that are no longer ours. This does not mean that they were not inspired, but in some ways, they are linked to a [particular] time and a temporary stage of revelation, as is also the case with a large part of ancient legislation,” Francis said.

The Catholic hierarchy is notorious for censoring the scriptures. In Italy, the 1596 Roman Index led to Bibles being publicly and ceremonially burned like heretics, notes Fragnito. The title of her Italian book uses a pun: The Bible at Stake (al rogo). When the Bible is burned at the stake, biblical truth is at stake.

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