> more interesting to me perhaps is the deceptively simple reason given by
> Innocent III (in 1199) for the prohibition:
> "... to be reproved are those who translate into French the Gospels... etc.
> They are moved by a certain love of Scripture in order to explain them
> *clandestinely* [latin?].
> ..*The mysteries of the faith are not to explained
> rashly to anyone.* Usually in fact, they cannot be understood
> by everyone but only by those who are qualified to understand them with
> informed intelligence. The depth of the divine Scriptures is such that not
> only the illiterate and uninitiated have difficulty understanding them, but
> also the educated and the gifted" (Denzinger-Schönmetzer, Enchiridion
> Symbolorum 770-771)
> >the "help" of authorized and trained interpretors often came up with
> interpretations that were either heretical (radical apostolic, dualist)
> or revolutionary (peasant's revolts....
> this reason immediately appeals to all us contemporary hard-core marxists (St.
> Harpo, prey for us), but *may* not be the whole story.
It is not. The letter to the people of Metz from which this text is derived covers
four pages in the modern edition and is accompanied by a second one to the bishop
on whose request these letters were written. He had accused "laypeople and women"
(laici et mulieres) in the town and diocese of Metz of meeting secretly, reading
the said texts, preaching, and resisting the "simple" priests. This is exactly
what heretics are supposed to do, and the hierarchy from the pope downwards was
very nervous about them and had every reason - from its viewpoint - to be so in
the time of Waldes, St. Francis and many others. So Innocent wrote (or had
written) this long letter to the people full of biblical references and
"requested" them to stop it, otherwise severe measures would be taken. At the same
time he ordered the bishop to have a closer look at those people to see whether
they really were heretics. This is not only the time of the Albigensian crusades
but also of the acceptance of the Humiliati, and the men integrating the mendicant
movements into the church - with startling results - were already around in the
curia, including Innocent´s two successors. The curia took a certain cautious
interest in the new movements, as long as they could be handled and accepted the
Nevertheless, the first letter was clearly understood as an anti-heretical text
and included in the Compilatio tertia and the Liber Extra (tit. de hereticis; X 5.
7. 12), providing an arsenal of biblical arguments against lay exegesis and
preaching even in its shortened version.
> what if we were to take this most ruthless and authoritarian of popes
> *literally*, and posit that he actually meant what he said that the mysteries
> *are* simply too complex for proper interpretation by those who lack the
> [intense, "scientific"] training --the "informed intelligence"[Latin??]
qui ea fideli possunt concipere intellectu.