Index of Forbidden Books


Opus Dei controls the information that members of the organization have access to. For example, members must ask permission of their spiritual directors before reading any book, even if it is required reading for a university course. The director checks the title against a list which is usually kept under lock and key in the Director’s office.

This list is based on one that was used by the Roman Catholic Church until 1948 (see link below for the 276-page list). Though the Catholic Church has abolished the list, Opus Dei still uses it and has added even more books to it.

Some of the authors on the original list include Victor Hugo, Immanuel Kant, Honoré de Balzac, John Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire and Emile Zola.

ODAN has heard many stories from former members about the Index of Forbidden Books, including the addition of new authors to this list; for example:

  • In an interview with Paul Moses in “Fact, Fiction And Opus Dei,” Fr. Alvaro de Silva said “that despite his advanced degree in theology, he had to ask permission to read leading Catholic scholars whose works were on Opus Dei’s list of forbidden books…he was forbidden to read the work of the Rev. Raymond Brown, who served on a papal commission and was widely considered the leading Catholic Bible scholar in the United States until his death in 1998.”
  • In The Vocation Trap, former numerary Joseph Gonzales says, “During my stint as a numerary, I witnessed the numeraries, including the directors, intermittently burning books in the garden at the back of the center. Usually, Protestant Bibles and books on the theory of evolution.”
  • In “Princeton Catholics divided,” by Deborah Kovach, The Trenton Times, October 22, 1989, History professor Michael Jimenez, a Catholic who has opposed Opus Dei because of its ideology and tactics, is among those who contend that McCloskey [Opus Dei priest] told students not to take courses with certain professors because they were “dangerous,” and told professors he would advise students not to read philosophers such as Nietzsche and Hume because they were also “dangerous” to young minds.
  • In Catholic Sects: Opus Dei, Alberto Moncada says, “Members are practically forbidden to read anything but specialized professional literature without the superiors’ permission, and even professional matters are ideologically tinted. Recently a numerary who had to read the Communist Manifesto because of his studies, was provided with an expurgated version. The organization’s Index of Forbidden Books is longer than the Church’s abolished version.”
Download the 1948 Index of Forbidden Books (Word file – 947KB).

Posted November 16, 2003