There is a popular Protestant polemic that Catholics don't (or didn't) want people to read the Bible. It is often furthermore assumed that the Catholic Church went so far as to ban people from having the Bible in their own language.
Supporting the claim are the stories of:
- Martin Luther who is sometimes thought to have been persecuted for translating the Bible into German, but who in fact was accused of heresy, and in any event, was not the first to translate the Bible into German.
- William Tyndale who was executed for heresy, but also did not even make the first English translation (rather there were others already extant)
- John Wycliffe who is often credited with the first English Bible, although older versions went back to the 6th Century, and who nonetheless was never charged with heresy until a good 30 years or so after his death.
In each of these cases, however, the position does not seem to be the act of translating the Bible, or of making it available, but rather of heretical teachings from these translations.
And, clearly the example of the Jesuits, translating the Scripture into hundreds of languages, seems to run counter to the claim that translating Scripture or encouraging lay popele to read it was heretical.
So, the question is, is there any papal directive that specifically addresses the possession of the Scripture in a vulgar (i.e. native) tongue, or addresses the translation of Scripture outside of Latin in a negative light?