In our conversations with hundreds of former Catholics, most of them tell us they were never encouraged to read the Bible. In fact, many of them said their priests actually discouraged them from reading the Bible because it was too difficult to understand. Could it be that the priests were worried that people would interpret the Scriptures correctly and undermine the authority of the Church? Or were the priests worried that those who studied God's Word would realize they were sitting under deceptive teachers and leave the church?
Historically, popes have openly condemned the reading of the Bible and often persecuted those who were caught with the Scriptures in their possession. Many loyal and devoted Catholics still deny the Vatican's fierce opposition to the Bible because they do not know their church's sordid history.
The Council of Toulouse in 1229 A.D, stated: "We prohibit laymen possessing copies of the Old and New Testament ... We forbid them most severely to have them in the popular vernacular."
The Council of Trent in the 16th century placed the Bible on its list of prohibited books. People were forbidden to read the Bible without a license from a Roman Catholic bishop. The council warned: "If any one shall dare to read or keep in his possession that book, without such a license, he shall not receive absolution (from the punishment of sins) till he has given it up to his ordinary (bishop)."
Why would a religion that upholds the name of Jesus Christ forbid its people from reading the Bible? Clearly, it was because those who were reading God's Word were learning the truth, and the truth was setting them free (John 8:31-32). During the Reformation in the 16th century, there was a mass exodus of people leaving the Roman Catholic Church. As they studied God's Word, they were being set free from the religious bondage and deception of an apostate church. People who were once woefully deceived and dead in their sins were being born again through the imperishable seed of God's Word (1 Pet. 1:23). Then they began testing every man's teaching with the infallible Word of God (Acts 17:11).
Mike Gendron, Proclaiming the Gospel e-mail news, 1 June 2016