Free the Word: Why the Church Needs to Release Her Teachings to the World

Free the Word

Free the Word

“We are many times controllers of faith, instead of becoming facilitators of the faith of the people.”

Pope Francis

The problem: Right now, many of the faithful are being restricted from fully sharing Scripture and other teachings of the Church in the most effective ways. We need to be flooding the world with the lumen fidei—the light of faith—yet there are current Church policies preventing this from happening.

The current licensing policies for the most essential texts and teachings of the Church (e.g. the Bible, the Catechism, encyclicals, etc.) are making it difficult, expensive, or impossible for Catholics to fairly reproduce and share them. This well-meaning but imprudent policy is directly hampering the Church’s evangelistic mission (as is clearly shown below).

It doesn’t have to be this way! There is a just and easy solution that will both:

  • protect the integrity of these important texts
  • and free them to be shared and consumed by more people throughout the world.

(The solution I propose distributes these essential texts using a Creative Commons-Attribution-NoDerivs license. I explain this below. Though it wasn’t planned, Jonathan Sullivan coincidentally published a great post today titled Publishing Under Creative Commons: A Primer for Parishes and Dicoeses.)

But we need your help in asking the Holy See (and, by extension, the USCCB) to update this policy.

If you would like to see Scripture and the official teachings of the Church set free so that more people can share and consume them (while still protecting the integrity of the texts), we need your support!

What you can do:

  1. Share this post with all of your friends [tweet it or use the social media icons above]
  2. Charitably contact the Holy See and USCCB and ask them to read this [contact info]
  3. Sign this petition by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post (e.g. “Free The Word!”)

If you still have questions or want to learn more about the background behind this movement, and the unfortunate stories that inspired it, please read the full manifesto below.

Let’s #FreeTheWord!


Lumen Fidei and Mea Culpa

A couple weeks ago, Pope Francis announced that on Friday, July 5 he would release his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith). The “work of four hands” would explore the theological virtue of Faith and I was thrilled. I had already gobbled up Pope Benedict’s encyclicals on Hope and Charity, and could not wait for this one.

I was particularly excited to share the document with others. I wanted to discuss it with friends and invite unbelievers to read it, too. To that end, I had an idea: when the encyclical was released, I’d convert it, free of charge, to other popular formats like Kindle, Nook, iPad, and more. That would help thousands of people immediately engage the text, many of whom would otherwise never check it out (like people who exclusively use e-readers).

At 6:01am ET on Friday morning, the Holy See posted the text online. As I expected, it was only available as plain text on difficult-to-read parchment background.

(The Holy See later made two great adjustments. They switched to a white background, which is much easier on the eyes, and added helpful social media icons to share the encyclical via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and email. A couple hours later they also posted a PDF version, but it’s oddly sized (5.5″ x 8.5″) making it difficult to print. And since PDFs don’t scale or flow on e-readers, they’re almost impossible to read anywhere but a computer.)

As soon as the encyclical went live I copied it over to a blank document, and over the next seven minutes I translated it into several eBook formats. I put them online, shared the links, and soon hundreds of comments and emails began pouring in from people saying, “Thanks! I only read on Kindle so without this, I probably wouldn’t have read the encyclical” or “This is great! Now I can read it on my iPad.”

I was so happy to help, but there was one big problem: I was wrong. I quickly received a litany of emails from the USCCB and Holy See, explaining that they had a clear and legitimate copyright on the text. And since I had no permission to share it, I was engaging in illegal activity. The folks could have, perhaps, used softer language—I was accused of “[violating] both civil and moral law” and “stealing from the pope”—but they were unquestionably within their rights to ask me to remove the eBooks.

In good faith, I complied. I took the documents down, admitted I was wrong, and publicly and privately apologized (especially for accusing them of valuing profit over catechesis, which was a regretful knee-jerk reaction.) Just to be clear, I’ll apologize again here: to the USCCB, the Holy See, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), and our Holy Father, I’m deeply sorry for overstepping my bounds and disseminating the encyclical without permission. I was wrong and should not have done that. My intention was simply to spread the Pope’s teaching but good intentions do not justify violating the Vatican’s copyright.

So if that’s the case, then why this post? Well, I’m not writing on that particular incident but on a much deeper and more serious problem it brought to light: the fact that Church institutions are restricting the spread of the most important truths of our faith—Scripture, the Catechism, papal and conciliar documents, the Roman Missal, and other liturgical texts—through needlessly prohibitive licensing.

Before going further, I want to be very clear. I’m not claiming in this article that the USCCB and Holy See were wrong to enforce their legitimate copyright on Lumen Fidei. Nor am I suggesting they had no right to copyright that and other texts. In fact, they should retain their rights to these texts.

What I’m proposing is that there must be a better way to license their copyrighted material. The Holy See has a right to restrict its texts as much as it likes. But as we’ll see, its current policy hampers the Church’s evangelistic mission. Pope Paul VI reminded us in 1975 that “[the Church] exists in order to evangelize” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14). That’s our first and most basic task, and any policy the Church institutes should help that mission, not limit it.

“Then John said in reply, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.'”

Luke 9:49-50


What’s the Problem?

The Lumen Fidei situation provoked lots of discussion about the Church’s copyright policy, but this is a conversation that has been going on for years. Some commentators, such as Dawn Eden and Phil Lawler, like the current policy. Phil writes:

“The Pope is a universal teacher, and when he speaks or writes, his aides at the Vatican hope that his message will go out to the widest possible audience. The Vatican’s policies are designed not to restrict public access to the Pope’s teachings, but to ensure that the teachings are conveyed fully and accurately.
Copyright laws are enacted to protect authors from potential exploitation. The Vatican argues, not unreasonably, that even the Pope deserves that protection.”

(UPDATE: Apparently I misunderstood Phil’s article. He just tweeted me to say, “Not sure why you cite me as disagreeing with you on this; actually I agree 100%.”)

It’s important to note here that the question is not, as some suggest, whether the Holy See should retain copyrights. They should. What I’m concerned with is the restrictive licensing and access to those texts.

Many others agree. In 2006, Dr. Jeff Mirus articulated the main criticism:

“This policy is…based on a view of truth more governed by contemporary positive law than by the traditional Catholic dictum that truth is the property of all. When bishops release documents in which they purport to expound the truth, they should be more than happy to have their words picked up by others and circulated as much as possible. This should be true even if criticism sometimes accompanies such circulation. Legal remedies should be employed only if altered texts are passed off as authentic.”

Several commentators have since added their voices in agreement, including:

Many have made the same point, that the current copyright policy curbs evangelization, and this resonates with my experience. Over the last year or so, I’ve heard from several Catholics, each attempting little more than to spread Church teachings, who have been shut down because of the restrictive policy.

Perhaps the most egregious example was Matt Warner and his “Read the Catechism in a Year” project. Anticipating the Year of Faith in October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged all Catholics to study and reflect on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a book his predecessor called “a sure norm for teaching the faith.”

That gave Matt an idea. He launched the “Read the Catechism in a Year” project as a simple way to help people read it throughout the Year of Faith. People signed up and began receiving excerpts of the Catechism each day in their email. By reading the little excerpts they would read the whole Catechism in a year.

It was a great idea and really took off. Within weeks, the project attracted over 100,000 subscribers, making it the largest catechetical study group in the history of the Church.

However a few months in, Matt was surprised by a letter from the USCCB. It explained that he did not have permission to share the Catechism and that he needed to shut down his project immediately. Confused and frustrated, Matt replied with an apology, asking if there was a better solution than shutting it down—perhaps partnering with the USCCB, or someone else with proper permissions. He was willing to do anything to keep the project running for the readers’ sake. But in response, he received another cease and desist letter, mailed to his house, this one from the USCCB lawyers.

Despite helping thousands of people read the Catechism each day, most of whom would never have read it otherwise, there seemed to be no openness to continuing the project.

(Thankfully, Ignatius Press stepped in and allowed Matt to excerpt from the simpler YOUCAT. It’s nice, but not the same as spreading the official Catechism.)

I’ve heard many other stories like this. For example, Verbum Domini, one of the first Catholic podcasts online, recorded the daily Mass readings so people could download them on their iPods. Yet they were ordered to stop the recordings. Despite being a volunteer project, given away for free to listeners around the world, they couldn’t spread the readings proclaimed each day in Mass.

Other podcasters have received aggressive cease and desist emails for simply praying or reading texts from the Roman Missal. Some were shut down for posting free audio recordings of the breviary. One friend, who worked as the Director of Web Development for a major Archdiocese, was reprimanded three different times for simply integrating the Bible, Catechism, and Mass translations into diocesan websites and apps.

More recently, my friend Jeff Miller shut down his popular “Weekly Francis/Benedict” project where he collected the Pope’s audiences, speeches, and writings. Each week he formatted them for free into a single eBook, downloadable in Kindle or ePub formats. Thousands of people downloaded the eBooks and discovered the Pope’s teachings, many for the first time.

This frustration hasn’t only hit bloggers and podcasters. Catholic publishers have been affected, too. Some publishing friends shared that the licensing fees they’re forced to pay in order to print the Bible, Catechism, or papal documents make it nearly impossible to break even. They’re forced to either mark up their books or just not publish them at all. Neither is a good option if the goal is to spread the teachings far and wide.

The problem ultimately boils down to this: the Holy See (and thus, by effect, the USCCB) has constricted the spread of the most basic Church teachings by making it difficult, expensive, or impossible to reproduce and share them.

The debilitating effects of this well-meaning policy are tragic and should frustrate all Catholics intent on evangelizing the world.

“It is quite unbecoming for the Church’s children idly to permit the message of salvation to be thwarted or impeded by the technical delays or expenses, however vast, which are encountered by the very nature of the media.”

Inter Mirifica, 17


What’s a Good Solution?

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like this. There are plenty of solutions that both protect the integrity of Church teaching while also granting free access to share it. One stands out and it’s been suggested by many people:

Release all magisterial teaching under a Creative Commons-Attribution-NoDerivs license.

Here’s what each of the elements in that fancy, technical name means:

  • Creative Commons – A type of license that lets you share your work generously without losing your control over it
  • Attribution – Requires that proper credit be noted on any reproduction
  • NoDerivs – Prohibits changing or altering the work, or producing derivative versions

Under this license, people may copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of the work. It’s an extremely popular way of safely distributing texts, especially digital content. In fact, over 400 million Creative Commons licenses have been deployed by individuals and large organizations, including Wikipedia. (The Creative Commons is partly why Wikipedia appears at the top of nearly every Google search page. The site is so popular because people routinely share its content. If the Church allows us to share her teachings freely and easily, we too would rise up in the search rankings.)

Surprisingly, the USCCB already does this for many of the resources available on its web site. For instance, the 2013 Catechetical Sunday materials contain this disclaimer:

Copyright © 2013, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to duplicate this work without adaptation for non-commercial use.

It’s a great idea and should be applied to all official Church resources, not just some.

Just to be extra clear, the Holy See and USCCB would still hold the copyrights to magisterial documents. They would still maintain their legal right and ability to prosecute anyone caught manipulating the text. Therefore they would maintain the textual integrity as much as they do now.

But the Creative Commons license would allow people interested in spreading Church teaching to do so freely. It would help bloggers, podcasters, artists, catechists, writers, publishers, and mobile app developers to freely integrate this content into their work and share it with the world.


“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give”

Matthew 10:1


Anticipated Questions

Q1: But what about print versions? We can’t just give books away for free!

I agree and that’s not what I’m advocating. It costs large sums of money to print, edit, market, and produce print documents, and publishers should be justly compensated. But they shouldn’t have to pay extra licensing fees on top of that to print and distribute basic Church teachings.

These extra and exorbitant fees, which often run thousands of dollars, prevent many groups from ever publishing these texts—which seems counterproductive—or it inflates the price and discourages consumers from buying them.

Q2: What about personal writings like Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth series? Should those be released for free?

Of course not. We must distinguish between the core teachings of the magisterium like the Bible, Catechism, and papal documents—official Church texts meant for the entire world—and the work of private men and women. There’s a substantial difference between a Catholic writing a personal book, and the Pope or bishops exercising their magisterial role.

In the case of Pope Benedict, he chose to have the LEV manage all his private writings and collect the royalties. That was his decision to make and there is nothing wrong with it. But magisterial texts are a different story. Those should be freely available for everyone to copy and distribute.

Q3: What about providing a just wage to those who labored to produce these documents?

Catholic social teaching affirms that “A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice” (CCC, 2434). I wholeheartedly agree. But we must ask, haven’t we already paid just wages for these texts? The New American Bible was produced decades ago and the Catechism is twenty years old. It’s not clear how much money Catholics are still on the hook for. If there is a specific dollar amount, we could perhaps fund-raise that money and fulfill our obligations, then allowing free distribution.

But here’s the bigger issue. Whatever wages the Church still owes to authors and translators should, if nothing else, be considered sunk costs. In any organization, there are resources you must expend to fulfill your basic mission—rent, furniture, electricity, equipment, and even costs related to staffing.

Translating and disseminating Church teaching is in the same category. It shouldn’t be an extra task we have to support through outside means. Making these texts available is among the Church’s most basic and foundational responsibilities. Those costs should already be accounted for through the giving of the faithful, not recouped through excessive royalties and licensing fees. As Lumen Gentium reminds, “The laity have the right, as do all Christians, to receive in abundance from their spiritual shepherds the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the assistance of the word of God…” (LG, 37).

When Catholics give money to their parishes, dioceses, USCCB, or the Holy See, at the very least they should expect to receive free and open access to Church teaching.

Q4: Why are you trying to undermine the magisterium’s authority?

I’m doing just the opposite. I’m trying to honor and extend their authority by spreading magisterial teachings. I’m not trying to undermine or change these texts, I’m trying to promote them. I want millions more people—Catholics and non-Catholics alike—to discover the treasures of the Church, specifically the writings of our remarkable Holy Father and his brother bishops. However, it’s hard to spread these teachings freely and quickly when there’s so many restrictions.

Q5: Why publicly criticize the bishops and the Pope? Why not address this in private?

I’m not criticizing any groups or individuals, only the policy. In my experience, the people behind this policy are kind and well-intentioned. But the unforeseen result of the imprudent policy is that it restricts evangelization. I think we can fix it and I’m simply suggesting a better solution.

Also, it should be noted that in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-20, I and others have addressed this issue privately over the last year. We’ve exchanged several messages with the USCCB, we’ve discussed it with multiple bishops, and we’ve reached out to the Vatican. Yet we were met mostly with resistance or ambivalence. We hope that by bringing this issue to the public light we will not only draw more attention to the problem, but raise the chance that together we can come up with a better solution. The more minds working on this conundrum, the better!

Q6: What about canons 828 and 829?

Canon 828 reads:

“It is not permitted to reprint collections of decrees or acts published by some ecclesiastical authority unless the prior permission of the same authority has been obtained and the conditions prescribed by it have been observed.”

According to the New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law by John Beal, “The obvious concern [of this canon is] the accuracy and completeness of [Church documents]…The canon is a rather curious remnant of Pope Leo XIII’s 1887 constitution on the prohibition and censure of books on which the 1917 code’s treatment of this whole area was based.”

Canon 829 reads:

“The approval or permission to publish some work is valid for the original text but not for new editions or translations of the same.”

The New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law explains, “When ecclesiastical approval for a publication is obtained, it applies only to the original text submitted for judgment, not to subsequent editions of translations of it. Those latter texts could vary substantially from the original. However, a simple reprinting of the original work is not considered a new edition.”

From the canon law experts I’ve talked with, neither of these canons are concerned with copyright issues, much less digital permissions. They’re primarily interested in maintaining the doctrinal integrity of Church documents. And of course, I and others would agree with that noble end. The solution I proposed achieves that. (I certainly welcome other canon law perspectives in the comment boxes.)

Q7: The documents are already available free at and so what’s the problem?

This is perhaps the most common response I’ve heard from critics. On the surface it makes sense: why should the Vatican let websites, apps, and publishers reproduce Church texts for free when they already offer it free on their websites?

The problem is that from an evangelistic perspective, posting documents in one or two places is simply not enough. St. Paul never said, “Well, Peter is preaching the Gospel so I probably don’t need to.” Mother Angelica never thought, “Well, there’s already some Catholic television shows so mine aren’t needed.” No parish has ever said, “People can hear the Bible at Mass so what’s the point of stocking paper versions in our library?”

It’s great that these magisterial documents are available free online in a couple places, but they should be freely accessible everywhere. Why only proclaim the Gospel in one place, to one audience, in one format, when we can share it in many more places and ways?

Also, on a more technical note, the documents available at are mostly unreadable on mobile devices. The websites are non-responsive, which means the text doesn’t resize on your phone or tablet, a huge problem since studies show mobile internet users will trump desktop internet users by 2015. Those who want to read Church documents on their computer can do so on these sites, but mobile users find it much more challenging. These are precisely the types of problems we’ll solve by releasing the texts to capable and willing mobile developers. Let’s take advantage of the many technical talents within the Church.

Q8: Why can’t someone just print a document out from or, or convert to an eBook himself?

They can, but this is illegal (even if it’s rarely enforced.) On March 19, 2011, the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State released a revised “Law on the Protection of Copyright and Related Rights”. Article 4, §3 reads:

“Reproduction in another format is considered, to all legal intents and purposes, to be a new publication of the work.”

And if you don’t have specific permission to reproduce that document in a new form (i.e. print it or convert it), then you’d be violating the law.

Now, most of us would think that’s silly and I’m sure many Church leaders would agree. But that’s the result of the current restrictive policy.

Q9: The Church already allows some groups to reproduce the documents online and offline, right?

Sure, but the process is not at all transparent. For instance, it’s not evident why some projects get a green light and others red. It’s also unclear how much someone has to pay to say, reproduce a chapter from the Bible or pray the Divine Office on a podcast.

I and others have asked these questions privately without response. In particular, when Matt Warner’s Catechism project was shut down, there was absolutely no openness to continuing the project even when Matt offered to pay the appropriate licensing fees, whatever they were.

There also seems to be inconsistencies with the policy, such as demanding the removals of Lumen Fidei eBooks while allowing others to post audio book versions of the same text.

Q10: Why not the Creative Commons Non-Commercial license?

Because nobody should have to pay for the right to distribute sacred texts. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re a volunteer, a small apostolate, a Catholic business, or a large publisher. If the Church’s goal is to evangelize, we want all of those people spreading the word.

Some of the most innovative Catholics work for Catholic companies and Church organizations. Why prohibit them from integrating the documents into their websites, apps, software, and podcasts?

Q11: What makes you think you’re so bright as to solve this problem? You don’t know what you’re talking about.

That may be true. One USCCB leader said in an email to me, “It is obvious that you have not studied this issue at length” and they could be right. Perhaps the Creative Commons license isn’t the best way to solve this problem, but nevertheless we can’t avoid the fact that there is a problem.

Regardless of which solution is best, or who proposes it, we need to figure out how to solve this dilemma, how to protect the Church’s teachings without restricting eager evangelists. I welcome feedback from the USCCB, Holy See, and anyone else concerned about this issue.

Q12: What benefits should the Church expect if she freely licensed her documents?

Hundreds of talented Catholics have already dreamed up creative ways to spread Church teaching, but aren’t able to implement them (yet) because of the current policy. I’ve seen several exciting, ready-to-go ideas like new interactive websites, mobile apps, podcasts, and video series. These vehicles would spread Church teaching to millions of new people, in new ways, through the new media.

(Note: Many of these Catholics are already doing innovative things with Scripture and prayer, but they are forced to use non-official translations of Church texts. That’s a shame and a missed opportunity to spread official Catholic texts rather than substitutes. Many tech-savvy Catholics end up using non-Catholic Scripture simply because it’s the only version convenient for them on a particular app, website, or interface.)

We only need to turn to our Protestant brothers and sisters to glimpse the potential. The free, volunteer-produced YouVersion Bible App garnered its 100 millionth install last week. Users have so far spent over 58 billion minutes engaging Scripture, and it’s now the most popular religious app in the world.

That’s the innovation you get when you allow Christians to maximize their gifts in service of the Church. It’s time we Catholics followed suit. We need to unleash our own creative energies and help Church teaching go viral.

“What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.”

1 Corinthians 9:18



It’s no secret that the Church faces many problems. Today, we’re particularly plagued by poor catechesis and engagement. Only half of the faithful believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist (and less than half can identify Genesis as the first book in the Bible.) Three-quarters of our own people skip Mass every week. And “former Catholics” make up the nation’s second-largest Christian group.

The best solution to these tragedies is not to restrict the Church’s treasure but to spread it liberally. We must not dampen the lumen fidei under a basket, but flood the world with its brilliant rays.

By tweaking the Church’s copyright policy to allow open distribution, we’ll maintain the integrity of the teachings and ensure they reach millions of new people. That’s what the New Evangelization is all about, and that’s why this change is so desperately needed.

“In the Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are old structures, passing structures: it is necessary to renew them!”

Pope Francis


Click below to tweet this article to your friends:

Yes! #FreeTheWord to flood the world with the Church’s wisdom. @USCCB @pontifex @PCCS_VA — Click to Tweet


What do you think? Should Church teachings be freely distributed? Please share in the comments!

Free the Word
(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

  • Gerald Donahue

    why can’t the Holy SEE just make the tech changes needed to make their proprietary documents readily available in all formats. if you did it, i’m sure someone could also do it, at the vatican’s request (even one of their own computer formatters ?)

  • Feisty

    Free the word!!

  • Quirkiestroh

    Free the Word. I remember when the Catholic Church gave out free CD ROMs of the New Testament from the New American Catholic Bible. They passed them out for Catholics to study during the 40 Days of Lent. They were published by “You’ve Got The Time” and with 25 minutes per day during the 40 Days of Lent you would completely hear the New Testament. I used it as a Lenten project and for the first time in my life read the entire New Testament while following along with the “actors” in the CD ROM. Since then, the relationship was shut down and no more has been done. That company makes many new copies of Protestant Bibles but are not allowed anymore to use the Catholic version, so there is no Old Testament unless you use a Protestant Bible version. Evangelization averted again in this situation, too!

  • Toomas Nigola

    I totally agree. Free the Word!

  • Kathryn Ertl

    All Christians need to be aware that when you support many mega internet companies you may also be indirectly supporting Non-Christian causes that they may support. Many support Planned Parenthood, LGBT, etc. How do you think they have so much money and power? If you care – go to and see how they rate before you purchase from them. Even if you have to sacrifice a little convenience – Please support companies that you know share your values and beliefs – otherwise they will cease to exist – as so many already have had to close!

  • William Grothus

    Church should not need licensing except for validity, not for money.
    The Word has freely been given and should be freely released.

  • Moussa Taouk

    I can’t believe anyone would be threatened by legal action for wanting to spread Church teachings. No wonder we can’t evangelize anybody. How pathetic. How utterly lame.

  • Debra Anderson

    I agree…The word needs to be promoted, not stifled. We would not have the New Testament if copying and distributing the writings of the apostles were not freely permitted by the authorities of the day.

  • Ray

    Yes, please!

  • LDM Somerville

    Free the Word! That is how God meant it to be for greater understanding and knowledge. Please free the Word!

  • Phil19034

    What has Bishop Barron said regarding this now that’s he’s a Bishop? Perhaps he could use some of his influence?

  • Maria Fernanda SNV Rodrigues

    Agree with you 100%

  • Brian Boyd

    The Word released………AMEN!

  • Brian Boyd

    The Word released………AMEN!

  • Joyce W.

    I find all the above information rather overwhelming, but my gut reaction is that the enemy must be pretty happy that there is a lovely tangle of red tape getting in the way of the New Evangelization!

  • DessiQ

    This discussion is very helpful. I pray our Mother Church will listen,

  • Janice K

    I agree with Jeff G Now is the time for the Bishops and Rome to change things so that all of this material can go to Catholics and non Catholic to evangelize them.

  • CW

    Dearest Pope Francis, I most humbly ask that everyone is permitted to freely spread the word of our Faith. In Jesus name, I implore you.

  • Donna Yukob Gregory

    Thanks for the info. Free the Word!

  • Linda Somerville

    Free the Word!

  • JuanMiguelFloresDíaz

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is available at the Vatican site and I use it very often. The web page is readable on iPad. My favorite alternative for studying CCC also links to relevant Church documents and the Holy Bible. Check it out, you’ll love it!

  • Mike

    Free the Word!

  • Rhoda

    I was shocked when I read in my bible a long time ago, no reproduction without permission. I thought the bible was written so many years ago by apostles, how can it be a copy right issue now.
    Yes, I also thought the bible was written to be shared so why do we put up road blocks to prevent sharing?

  • ichthusthree

    any updates on this?

  • ichthusthree

    Amen! Free the Word !

  • lillyrx

    Yes, But only the Clear Church teachings like those found in The Baltimore Catechism. Books like, “Living Our Faith” recently used in Catechism classes in Our Parish have got to go. They are confusing and vague at best, intentionally misleading at worst. We need to get the true Church teachings in the hands of as many as possible.

  • Michael Hager

    Reminds me of the old charge that churches chained their bibles to the alter to prevent the laity from reading it… Yes, it was actually to prevent extremely valuable hand drawn texts from being stolen, but it seems it’s almost the same thing.

  • lexan

    These documents are the core of our faith so, of course, they should be freely available.
    Is this restrictive practice one reason why the faithful are leaving the Church?

  • Phillip Couture

    I would rather seek truth from a single guarded source then to peruse multiple copies always afraid of a misquote or mistake. Now, if that copy could police itself then errors would be eliminated. This is giving the copy life similar to an artificial intelligent robot which is still in the research stage.

  • Phillip Couture

    I would rather seek truth from a single guarded source then to peruse multiple copies always afraid of a misquote or mistake. Now, if that copy could police itself then errors would be eliminated. This is giving the copy life similar to an artificial intelligent robot which is still in the research stage.

  • Denise Branquinho

    I followed the first Catechism in a Year and the later ones have not been the same experience. Free the Word. Thank you for your grace filled message.

  • Richard Norman

    Free the Word!

  • Lu-Ann Malizia

    Why not start a petition through to send to the USCCB and the Vatican?

  • Theresa Wohlever

    Free the Word!

  • Jeff Jennen

    Please free the word

  • Barbara Tovar Stonecipher

    Free the Word!

  • totustuus333

    Fantastic article

  • Jonathan

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Free the Word

  • James M

    This article is two years old – have there been any developments in the meantime ?

  • Free the Word! More people in the world have smart phones than have access to clean water. If we can make these things easily available to the poor imagine how that could benefit the church!

  • Lee

    Absolutely. The USCCB behavior chronicled above is embarrassing.

  • Jennifer Dwyer

    I support Free the Word! I see Pope Francis urging all of God’s Holy Faithful People to begin reforming the Church from the inside out. Actions like this are exactly what I think he is talking about. Thank you, Brandon for taking the time to write this amazing article. I agree completely.

  • Teresa H

    I was one of the people who didn’t finish reading the catechism in a year as I had planned because they shut down the daily email program. Please don’t hinder the spreading of the gospel because of legal battles.

  • Girard Gary Ross Gillett


  • BruceInIloilo

    Bureaucracies by their nature are risk-adverse. The Church, by its nature, should take risks, should trust, should step out in faith. Sure, Mr Bureaucrat, there are risks inherent in freedom (here to reformat and reproduce) but isn’t it our calling as Christians to embrace risk and to trust?

  • I’m in – though how about a real petition that can be printed and sent via snail mail to Pope Francis? I feel like he would see every point you’ve made and help kick the doors open on this.

  • Ken

    I support the effort to free the word of the church. Using the Devine Inspired Word of God as a fundraiser is disgracefully.

  • Eamon R.

    Free the Word

  • Geeves

    First off: Free the Word!

    I’ve only just stumbled across this recently but I see this post is quite old now, have you had any movement on any of this stuff? I’ve always found it baffling that it is quite so difficult to find things like the Catechism online!

  • Jeff

    Free the Word! Great post. Thank you for the info!

  • Dan Milani

    I’ve found the PDF versions of documents on the Vatican website to be very helpful. I’ve collected a “library” of the Vatican II documents digitally highlighted and notated. It also been a great way to search for particular paragraphs or topics in documents. I was bummed to find that the Evangelii Gaudium PDF was encoded differently than previous documents and was not searchable. (Only the headings would be found. The actual text came up as place-filler characters.) I don’t know if this was intentional or merely a bug in a new digitizing process. Wondering if anyone else has experienced this.

  • Dan Milani

    The USCCB has a portal in the works called myUSCCB. Resources like the National Directory for Catechesis and other USCCB works will be available for “personal printing” and parish use. A beta version is coming online April 1st. Read more at

  • I don’t remember if I signed this before in this way- but I just reposted the link on slashdot in a general discussion on copyright law.

    I’m hoping now that the publishing arm (and other revenue duties) are no longer under the Vatican Secretary of State, and Bertone’s out of a job, this issue is going away.

  • Fr. Jason Signalness

    Today I tried to buy a printed copy of the Holy Father’s new Apostolic Exhortation from Pauline Books. It won’t be released until January 1st. On their site, it explains: “Regretfully, because of restrictions imposed by the Episcopal Conference publishing office (USCCB), we are prohibited from releasing it earlier.” You can buy it, for a higher price, right now from the Bishops’ Conference. Annoying.

    • I agree, though I’d say it’s worse than annoying. Monopolizing the Pope’s text in this way, a text which was written for the world, is borderline scandalous.

  • Julie Scott

    Free the Word!

  • Terence Monteiro

    Absolutely support you – this is the need of the hour. “What you have received freely, give freely” – Mt 10:8

  • Jose Bulao Jr., OCDS

    Your discussion, Brandon, was very comprehensive. Thank you very much. I almost cried when I read that the serial on the Catechism was stopped. On judgment day your words will be justified. Jesus is Lord now and through you he is making his appeal, Free me to appear on the gadgets of people.

  • PAX

    if there were to be an additional question to the ones stated and precisely answered above, i think it should be “Why the delay?”, this time not directed at you both to the Holy See, it’s a wonderful idea, you’ve spoken the mind of myriads of catholics worldwide, it’s an honor to be a part of that “band-wagon”. #Free the Word!, I HONESTLY CONCUR

  • jrduboc

    100% agree! This is in fact something I advocated 10 years ago 🙂
    So glad to find people who think the same way about this issue…
    Consider the petition signed 🙂

  • I am witness

    Christ believer,
    Do you know about Isaiah 9:6? Scriptures of old testament in bible are from Torah. I was studying bible and Torah these scriptures did not match. I study Torah from

    In Acts 17:11 people searched Torah to see if what Paul was telling them about Christ was true. So what about Isaiah 9:6? take a look….

    Isaiah 9:5 vs. Isaiah 9:6

    Isaiah 9:5 For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and the wondrous adviser, the mighty G-d, the everlasting Father, called his name, “the prince of peace.”

    Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty G-d, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

    Isaiah 9:6 make image of man appear as a god (an idol) Romans 1:25, who changed the truth of G-d into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 1 John 2: 22-23, who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is anti christ, that denies the Father and the Son. Whosoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father: he that acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

    Isaiah 9:5 declares G-d sent his son. Martha testifies John 11:27, She said to him, Yes, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of G-d, which should come into the world.

    John, one of the twelve testifies 1 John 4:14-15 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whosoever shall confess that
    Jesus is the Son of G-d, G-d dwells in him, and he in G-d.

    Many Christians, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah witnesses, preachers, pastors, etc. testify Jesus Christ revealed himself to them.

    Does the word of G-d say Christ reveals himself?
    Prophet of highest John testifies John 1:6, There was a man sent from G-d, whose name was John. John 1:33-34, And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizes with Holy Spirit of truth. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of G-d.

    Christ testifies of his father John 8:42, Jesus said unto them,
    If G-d were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from G-d; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

    Matthew 11:25-27, At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and has revealed them to babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
    John 4:24-25, But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. G-d is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    John 17:1, these words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you:

    Peter, one of the twelve testifies Acts 10:40-41, Him G-d raised up the third day, and showed him openly; Not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before G-d, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

    2 Peter 1:17-18, For he received from G-d the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

    Apostle Paul testifies Galatians 1:15-16, But when it pleased G-d, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

    There are two identical jesus christ Revelation 17:8 because words rewritten in Isaiah 9:6 making image of man into a god (idol) Revelation 13:18; Daniel 8:11.

    In Matthew 7:22 How are believers recognizing Christ and using his name but told they are workers of iniquity? Matthew 24:24, for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect John 15:21, John 16:2-3, Luke 13:23-27.

    When Christ said there shall be false christs and false prophets he was referring to the churches on earth. In fact all of them.

    Words of prophesy crystal clear about religious deception thru devil Revelation 13:8. How does devil deceive the whole world? Luke 4:5-9, Isaiah 14:13-14,16-17.

    In Matthew 24 Christ was declaring what he saw from the mount of temptation. Christ saw all four kingdoms. Daniel 2:31-33 all four kingdoms into image of man (idol). The fourth kingdom on earth is the churches known as kingdoms of men.

    Apostle Paul and Peter knew about fourth kingdom and its fourth beast 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 9-10; 2 Peter 3:15-16,And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

    How fourth kingdom formed on earth James 3:9-12;1 John 2:18-19; Acts 20:29-31; Matthew 24:4, 11, 24; 1 Peter 4:17; 2 Peter 3:15-16; Revelation 13:18.

    The mother church is Vatican Rome, Italy known as mystery Babylon the Great the Mother of Harlots abominations of the earth Revelation 17:5. All her churches (harlots) on earth have same roots and all spiritually connected to mother church. What churches connect to this mother church? The churches of Catholics, Christians, nuns, monks, Mormons, Jehovah witness, Islam, and their affiliations which are web sites, radio stations, T v networks, bookstores, and the list goes on and on! They all have same roots communion wafer and juice, choir, candles, weddings, building with pulpit, congregation, celebrate same holidays Revelation 11:10, holy bible Isaiah 9:6, and many more Revelation 13:18.

    There are no good or bad churches or temples. Churches have one goal keep you spiritually DEAD and your flesh ALIVE Daniel 8:12, 23.

    All churches on earth agree, copy, support, and depend on secular systems of the world which are the three kingdoms combined on the earth to support fourth kingdom. Churches have concerts, movies, published books, T V networks, programs, schools, airplanes, businesses, and their own media in the name of their god. They could neither buy or sell unless they had the SPIRITUAL mark in the name of their god from Isaiah 9:6.

    Revelation 13:16-17, And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    This prophesy is not of any private interpretation it is found in the bible and Torah.

    Revelation 11 the two witnesses delivered out of the churches by the power of G-d and anointed to testify to the people in churches. People of G-d must come out immediately and deny the image of the beast impersonating Christ thru MEN at the pulpit, TV, etc. using the name of G-d Mark 13:14, But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that reads understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

    The image is man from Isaiah 9:6 and where it says “standing where it ought not” means at the pulpit in the midst of the congregation during worship. This is the abomination of desolation the image of man as a god (idol) standing on platform in a building using name of G-d in midst of people while man’s hands play instruments and people’s voices sing Revelation 18:22. Image of man standing in place causes people to idolize, worship, and be co dependent on man not G-d.

    What does G-d say about building churches?
    Matthew 17:4-5,Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

    While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

    Acts 7:47-50, But Solomon built him an house. How be the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as says the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Has not my hand made all these things?

    Luke 17:20, And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of G-d should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of G-d comes not with observation:

    Hebrews 8:1-2, Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

    1 Peter 2:4-5, To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of G-d, and precious, You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to G-d by Jesus Christ.

    Christ given a new name and no man knows this name.
    In Revelation 19:12, Christ given a new name because dragon deceives using image and name of G-d to deceive men and millions of people for over 10 generations to make churches on earth to gather the final generation to battle the Lord and his Christ Daniel 8:11-14; Revelation 16:12-14, 16; Revelation 19:19.

    The people in churches use name of G-d but no man knows this new name to give strength to the beast Revelation 17:13; Matthew 7:22. therefore Christ speaks his new name and the beast and false prophet are removed and cast into lake of fire Revelation 19:20. Church leaders of the earth come to the truth Revelation 19:18-21>Revelation 6:15-17.

    Leave churches and their affiliations NOW. Deny the image Isaiah 9:6 and teachings of the churches! Don’t be apart of the spiritual plagues coming on the people in the churches around the world! 1 Peter 4: 17-18, For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of G-d: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the words of G-d? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

    All Churches on earth spiritually connected to the Great City Revelation 11:8. This city is about to receive her hour of judgement. I am a witness to seeing the beast ascended out of the bottomless pit and in perdition. People of the earth have less than two years until last day and hour. Last year will be great tribulation!!!!We do not know the day or hour but G-d is merciful to show us the truth and be ready for the coming of the son of man, if we pray and seek him for the truth. It is our choice to believe love of truth, leave the churches, and seek God for truth in prayer immediately! the outpouring “The Sealing of G-d” is coming before the great tribulation! Read Ezekiel chapter 8 & 9
    on how G-d operates sending judgement to his house and leaving a remnant!

    Does your pastor even know about Isaiah 9:6 and Torah Isaiah 9:5? Does he know about spiritual judgement coming upon all people in the churches on the earth?

    Seek G-d in prayer for truth and forgiveness for you and your family may escape the wrath coming Isaiah 26:20-21; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:16-18.

    John 4:13-14, Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

    John 5:24-25, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of G-d: and they that hear shall live.

    People of G-d GET OUT of the churches NOW. Do not be apart of the spiritual plagues coming upon the people in the churches around the world! I AM A WITNESS!!! Hear my testimony on video just google, “Christ testimony of the churches around the world”

  • DianeVa

    The more I read and learn, the more I spend on books, CD’s, etc to help share the faith with others. I also give so much more to my church and apostalate because it is better to give than receive. The return on “investment” is off the charts! Once a heart is transformed no telling where God will lead it but it is always to bear more fruit for the Kingdom! To regain those who have fallen away from the Church should be an obvious benefit both earthly and spiritually! WWJD?

  • Mitchell

    Free the Word!

  • Paul Uwemedimo

    I have already commented that the word needs to be freed. This isanother comment to say It is not just Catholics concerned about copyright hindering evangelisation: see http://www.internetevangelismd… and

  • Paul Uwemedimo

    Yes I most definitely agree that the word needs to be freed and your suggestion seems to me to be a good way of doing it.

  • Anthony

    Free the Word!

  • Lydia

    Free the word!

  • Titus

    I’m still not convinced that the decision to distribute these materials for free online doesn’t make non-commercial electronic republication per se fair use. With no market to begin with, the republication interferes with no right held by the owner. The republication does not impair the owner’s ability to derive a profit (he’s not attempting to). The republication does not impair the owner’s choice *not* to charge, since republication itself is free and non-commercial. The only thing that is even facially logical is impairment of the right to charge in the future: but that, while logical in theory, is farcical in fact.

  • Shane Chubbs


  • Irenist

    Free the Word. I hereby heartily endorse this petition.

  • Diane Tabulog

    Free the Word

  • Ariel C. de Castro

    Free the Word. St. Paul would preach to the whole world for free. Spoken word, written word from St. Paul, they’re the same to me.

  • Kevin Bailey

    I agree! I have placed a request for the USCCB to review this site and have contacted a bishop already. I plan to share it with my Pastor and my bishop in the next couple of weeks personally as I see them.

  • Matt

    Yes we need to free the word and let the ‘light of faith’ shine for all…God be with you and bless your Mission…

  • Wilson Orihuela

    Catholics should also check out when they have a chance. Were preaching Catholic Truth with a Fire not seen anywhere else in Catholic media. Free The Word and follow Vericast.

  • Praecentor

    Free the word!

  • Stephen M

    Free the word

  • Mac McLernon

    Oh gosh, yes… the Creative Commons -Attribution-NoDerivs license is definitely the way to go for Church documents… Good luck with the campaign!

  • Timothy Finigan

    I totally agree and have posted in support on my blog

  • BCSWowbagger

    Da Word: free it.

  • Donna Smith

    Yes–freely distribute as long as we attribute–I see in evangelical circles quotes from the Bible with the version listed. That’s only fair. But maybe it’s just my Protestant past, (it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission), but hey–why do we care what the USCCB thinks? Are they the magisterium? What authority do they have? What good do they do? Just ignore them.

  • Owote

    Free the Word.

  • Evangeli Nuntiandi

    Free The Word. With modern policies like this it’s easy to see how a chained bible in Church is/was misunderstood. I personally was very disappointed that the Read the Catechism in a year project was hindered. Such a spirit lead lay initiative carrying out the calling of the year of faith just to be reeled back because of bureaucracy is a real shame.

  • Janis

    Brandon, may God bless your efforts to spread the Good News and teachings of the Church.

  • Michael Francis Goodwin

    Free the Word!

  • Angela

    Free the word!

  • Kate Cousino

    Please! The Truth was given to the Church so she could give it to the World! It should be distributed widely and freely.

  • Jay

    Solvo Vox

  • Elena

    Free the Word!

  • Patrick D Gamble

    Yes! #FreeTheWord to flood the world with the Church’s wisdom! @brandonvogt1 @USCCB @pontifex @PCCS_VA

  • Meredith Morrow

    The official Catholic teaching is my hope and the ideal I strive for in my personal life. It bears little resemblance to the teaching of the Oakland Diocese, which is a kind of multi-culture club where we worship the Community (which is only “I” pluralized), and love the sinner by approving his sin.

    I am not surprised that many of the US bishops wish to squash the Gospel ; if we hear the Truth we might notice they have been giving us stones. I pray that they will Free the Word. I pray that someday the Word will free His Church.

  • Nate Johnson

    I would greatly prefer it if the USCCB and Holy See freely chose to let the NAB Bible, encyclicals, and Catechism be freely distributed online in a way that still preserved the integrity of the texts. I have no doubt that this would lead to a greater exposure to and reading of the documents by Catholics and the wider public. Thanks Brandon for laying out your concerns in such a thorough and civil way.

  • Shane Kapler

    Several years ago, I wrote the draft of my first book using the NAB. When I contacted the USCCB after the fact, and was told it would cost $1200 to do so, I went back through the manuscript and changed all quotations to RSV – at absolutely no charge. (Ended up preferring the RSV translation, which I had only referenced up until that point – so in the end, it was a positive.) I applaud what you are doing Brandon. You are handling this situation with a great deal of charity, and given a little time, I am confident it will bear fruit.

  • Cynthia Campos

    Free the Word!

  • Marcus Otte

    Free the Word : )

  • John Clem

    #FreeTheWord, great proposal from Brandon Vogt, and I hope the whole church will suport him in this campaign.

  • Great job Brandon. I’m in.

  • Daniel Kane

    The media savvy of the Church in the release of Lumen Fidei is greatly improved over prior efforts and I am sure that they will format their future works into a variety of forms so that most every electronic gadget is covered. That being said, I would be greatly disappointed if the Church allowed every “guy with a blog” to become an electronic distribution center.

    This would seemingly give every blogger an imprimatur of sorts, “after all, he’s distributes the Holy Father’s every word!” which, is what “many of the faithful” would think if presumably they are so inept that they cannot successfully navigate Google or locate the 20 year old Vatican website for the .pdf . Ditto the USCCB.

    Not that there is not room for a less burdensome and more economically feasible manner of getting permissions, but widely authorizing anyone to become a self-appointed Papal Document Distribution Center is something that the Church should resist.

    While I did not read every comment, and post, I am certain that the “Free the Word” handle polluted what is sensible about your discussion, which has some clear merit. Who in their right mind would care to negotiate or cooperate with one who appears to be an ungovernable (and even admitted) provocateur. Provocateurs get attention, but they do not get respect and no one partners with them.

    Your handle implies that the USCCB and the Vatican (two innocent parties just doing their job running the largest organization in history and evangelizing the nation(s)) are imprisoning the Word – Capital W. That is somewhat insulting to the parties you purportedly want to partner with and taken a step further, provide you with their work product for free.

    I doubt that even you do not believe your hastag – yet is exists. I wish you had given this a more deeper evaluation. You do not seem to be the way you appear.

  • Clara

    Free the Word!!!

  • Sven2547

    I was having a discussion with a friend not long ago about the differences between religions and cults. Religions and cults will both claim they can tell you the way to be saved. The difference is that cults charge you money to hear their message…

  • It is at once both comical and sad that so many people are failing to recognize the distinction between Libreria Editrice Vaticana and The Magisterium of the Catholic Church. They are not the same. The fact that The copyright was given to LEV does not mean that they have the authority to deny the dissemination of the encyclical, an act that would violate the very nature of the document and be an affront to both the author and the intended audience. LEV’s copyright is treated by the secular state as giving it such authority, but that doesn’t matter, because LEV wasn’t given the copyright so that it could do that.

    Fr. Z. has produced a nice audio recording of the text of Lumen Fidei that can be listened to or downloaded over at his blog:

  • AnnF

    Free the Word!

  • Todd Lemieux

    Brandon, lets have a very public Google Hangout debate where we can discuss this face to face. Invite everyone on the comments board. Invite everyone from the pope on down.

    You asked for a private email conversation and didn’t address any of my points in your response. I try to make points in your comments section that are contrary to what you state in the manifesto and you accuse me of not engaging in serious discussion.

    Side note: there are other comments under a “Todd” that are not me.

    • Sorry, but I’m not interested. To be clear, you sent me a 3,500-word email that was unfocused and all over the place (and filled with the same slander and sarcasm as your public comments.) I shouldn’t have responded at all but I did address a few of your points.

      The comments and meme you posted here and on Twitter are simply not contrary to what I stated in my original post,. I clearly showed why out in my reply.

      The point is this: I’ve laid out my case here in the article, and you’ve offered no substantial (or charitable) refutations to any of my points. You’ve simply misunderstood the points, attacked my character, slandered my name, and accused me (without evidence) of ignoble motives. I don’t have time to engage people like that. I do appreciate the feedback, but I’ll let this be my last reply to you on the subject.

      • Todd

        How noble of you.

  • Felix Miller

    I agree. This is ridiculous.

  • Matthew Popkes

    Definitely support this!

  • Brandon B

    Free the Word.

    Idea I’ve had: make a smartphone app for the Graduale Romanum. I’m not sure who holds the copyright, though.

    • Titus

      Here’s a secret: the great patrimony of the Church, the ancient Latin texts, are all public domain. You can print the Graduale Romanum in your basement and sell it on the street corner if you like.

  • Andy

    I think it’s more important that we read what we can and bring it to life rather than starting unnecessary scandal because you didn’t want to be obedient… THINK OF THE BIBLE. it’s freely accessible but nobody LIVES IT OUT, rather, they twist the words against Holy God.

    • Behold the Lamb

      Andy- that’s the whole point of trying to make Church documents more accessible and printer friendly- to bring our faith to life so that we are more comfortable freely sharing it with others. Being Catholic – or a Christian- is more than just showing up for Church on Sunday. Studying and familiarizing ourselves with Holy Scriptures and Church teachings challenges one to become more like Christ and being a light for others. Making these documents printer friendly – AT NO COST- can only help the essential mission of our Church- EVANGELIZATION.

      Matthew 6:24- You cannot serve God and mammon.

    • Andy, I’m not “starting unnecessary scandal” nor have I declined to be obedient. I don’t understand how you could draw that conclusion after reading the first section, “Lumen Fidei and Mea Culpa.” It was, from beginning to end, an apology and expression of obedience.

      Also, you’re proposing a false dichotomy. Perhaps we Catholics can attempt to better live out the Gospel *and* spread the Bible to more people. We don’t have to choose. In fact spreading the Bible to more people will *lead* to more people living out its tenants.

      The best solution is to flood the world with the Gospel, not restrict its spread.

  • Daniel Crandall

    I wholeheartedly agree! Evangelize the world. Free the Word!

  • Sylvia

    As Pope Francis says, let’s facilitate this and not control it.

  • Elizabeth

    I agree – free the word! St Francis de Sales, pray for us

  • nagwagi2000 .

    Yes Free the Word! 🙂

  • Fernando

    Yes, wholeheartedly agree. While protecting the integrity of the official text, these documents should have the widest possible dissemination. Anything less than this will be a disservice to the Church’s mission.

  • Monica Peterson Benninghoff

    Free the Word, absolutely! (RT, too)

  • Todd


    Allow me to refute this entire post with one picture.

    • Todd, thanks for the comment. However, the sarcasm is totally unnecessary and unbecoming of any Catholic trying to engage in charitable dialogue. It only detracts from the points you’re attempting to make.

      That said, not only does your snarky picture fail to “refute the entire post”, it fails to refute anything in the post. Here’s why:

      1. I explicitly mentioned the social media share buttons (and complimented them) in my original post. You seem to insinuate by your picture that I’m unaware of them. But if you read my entire post, you’d see the problem is not that people can’t read “Lumen Fidei” on the Vatican’s website but that Catholics can’t freely reproduce and distribute Church documents in other formats. It makes no since for an evangelical-minded Church to restrict Catholic teaching to one format, in one place.

      2. Though the Vatican has a print button on this page, printing “Lumen Fidei” is in fact illegal according to its own law. As I clearly mention in my post, the Vatican’s “Law on the Protection of Copyright and Related Rights”, Article 4, §3, clearly states:

      “Reproduction in another format is considered, to all legal intents and purposes, to be a new publication of the work.”

      Unless you get permission for that new publication, it violates the law. Now, I personally think people should be able to print this document and, should they choose, distribute them to others. That should be encouraged, not restricted. But the fact that such activity is illegal exposes how misguided the current policy is. If the policy added a Creative Commons license, there would be no problem with anyone printing as many copies as they would like.

      3. You say, “the black on white text is impossible to read.” This is confusing for many reasons. First, it’s a straw man claim: I never said anywhere in my article that the black-and-white- text is hard to read. In fact I went out of my way to explicitly *compliment* the white background. So again, you’re attempting to rebut a caricature of my article.

      What I did say was that the text itself is non-responsive and thus renders poorly on cell phones and other mobile devices. I’ve snapped a screenshot on my cell to show you what it looks like (and indeed is is virtually unreadable):

      4. You out the PDF button and say “I can download this to my mobile device, tablet, computer, or e-reader.” Again, I never claimed you couldn’t. So once again you’ve simply embraced a straw man fallacy.

      What I did say was that the PDF poorly-renders on most mobile devices (especially those with smaller screens, like cell phones). And for those who choose to (illegally) print it, they’ll waste lots and lost of paper since the PDF is 80+ pages due to its strange size (5.5″ x 8.5″) which means the text will only take up a small proportion of a standard 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper. By contrast, my PDF, which I made in less than a minute from the original text online, was properly formatted, much more readable on mobile devices, and was only 32 pages long.

      Even more, I’d echo the same thing I mentioned earlier: It makes no since to restrict Catholic teaching to one (or two) formats. Why not make this document in available in several other popular formats from day one? Why not allow other Catholics to convert these documents into more-readable formats? And making this PDF available does nothing to solve the problem of restricting well-meaning Catholics to integrate this text in innovative project–websites, apps, software, mailing lists, and more.

      5 .Finally, you close with the needlessly snarky statement, “Look at how ‘restricted’ and unusable this Catholic Document [sic] is.” I’ve already show how the document is virtually unreadable on most mobile devices, specifically cell phones.

      But I’d just like to re-affirm that yes, this document *is* significantly restricted. By law, you are *not* allowed to print it nor distribute it in other modern digital formats. You are not allowed to integrate it into your own websites or projects. You are not allowed (according to the law, which isn’t necessarily enforced) to create audio books or podcasts of this document. All of these unnecessary restrictions are curbing significant evangelistic efforts that would reach thousands of new people with the riches of “Lumen Fidei.”

      • Todd

        The publisher puts a print button up and I’m not allowed to print it for personal use?

        Oh wait… that’s not what you said.

        You said print AND distribute FREELY.

        Allow me to show you some of the “restricted” Church documents on my mobile phone…

        The first is Lumen Fidei.

        On my mobile phone.

        Totally readable.

        The second is the USCCB website with the readings for the day.

        On my mobile phone.

        Totally readable.

        The real issue is that you simply don’t like the formats.


        You think the formats should be changed. Rather than work with the Church, you have chosen a public forum to air your grievances and dare to suggest that these texts are “restricted.”

        “Restricted” texts that anyone can read.

        Free texts that in your opinion need to be freed.

        You talk about all the ministry that is NOT being done because of these. All I see is a bunch of people who didn’t ask permission from the publisher and were told “no.”

        They don’t like the answer so they are created some sacred cow publishing scenario that will allow them to share published works as THEY want. Not as the Church wants.

        THAT’s the problem.

        • Todd

          I forgot to mention all the approved Catholic apps on the iPhone (don’t have an android) that are completely usable and contain everything you want to share.

          • Behold the Lamb

            Todd- You’re challenging Brandon’s integrity here in a very un-Christlike manner. Don’t let the enemy get a foothold on this issue. Say what you want to say, just consider being nice as you do it. Thanks.

          • Todd


            Brandon’s actions are inconsistent with his stated intent.

          • Behold the Lamb, I’d encourage you not to engage Todd. It just won’t be fruitful and therefore isn’t worth it. It’s clear from public and private correspondence I’ve had with him that he’s only interested in slander and sarcasm, not serious and respectful dialogue.

          • Todd, you’re missing the primary point of #FreeTheWord. The issue of “mobile readability” is important, but peripheral to the main argument I and others are making. Even if the Vatican updated their webpages to responsive designs, and even if the PDFs were properly sized, the problem would still exist that the text is constrained to a few locations online. Eager evangelists would still be prohibited from spreading the documents in other innovative ways.

            Millions of people–Catholics and non-Catholics–will simply never visit the Vatican’s website (or the USCCB’s website). They must be reached through other creative avenues. This is why we need to spread Church documents through different platforms, in different formats, at no cost. We need to equip other Catholics evangelists, outside of our institutions, to spread this content to their own followers and subscribers. That’s the best way to maximize our evangelization.

            (PS. Your objection seems to parallel the one I anticipated in Question 7. Please re-read my response there.)

            Perhaps I can ask two follow-up questions:

            Should the Church charge money to reproduce sacred texts?

            If the Church’s fundamental mission is to evangelize, how does the current policy spread the Church’s teachings to more people than the solution I propose?

          • Todd

            So it isn’t “mobile readability.”

            It’s just that no one goes to the sites where the documents live, where the publisher wants them.

            1. Send the millions of people to the website. For example, if these documents you want to share are so important, why don’t you have links to them on your home page so every visitor can see them? Your only link to Lumen Fidei that I can see is buried in your post about how you can’t distribute it freely from your site. I don’t see links to the USCCB or the Vatican anywhere.

            2. This whole movement seems to want free distribution on a massive scale outside of the oversight of the Church. (There is no way the Church can police it to make sure it is done in a context they approve of) For example… buy my book and get a copy of the NAB for free! Instead of going through the process and asking for permission AHEAD of time, you want to not ask permission, distribute as you and others see fit. This is my inherent problem. The philosophy seems to me to take the Church out of the Church rather than leading people TO the Church.

            The Church doesn’t charge money for sacred texts. Depending on your usage and distribution, the Church asks for a fee to distribute texts. This fee goes to education according to the USCCB website.

            Again, if the Church decided tomorrow to go with your solution, that’s fine. This is the wrong way to go about it.

  • Susan Hajek

    Free the Word!

  • Carmelo Fallace


  • Francis Choudhury

    Free the Word!

  • Leila Miller

    Totally agreed! Free the Word!! About to post this link on my blog….

  • roughplacesplain

    I agree that the official texts should be made freely available.

  • GilWasTheMan

    Free The Word. As Pope Francis said they are not to be an NGO, to make people serve the organization but they are to serve the people (paraphrasing).

  • faustinaagatha

    This has my suppurt

  • Steve

    Free the Word!

  • Mary Stafford

    It is for freedom that you have been set free.

  • Sue Korlan
  • Ms. Karen Jessee, OP

    Free the Word!

  • Cathy R.

    Brandon, I just went on the Vatican website & printed it out (no problem). The Vatican made it available in a couple of different formats too.(PDF was included). It was free, I didn’t need to pay in order to print it out (just like all the other enclyclicals over the past 100 years). It may be that the Vatican is afraid that if they allow others to “publish” it that things may become altered in the subsequent publication (Francis doesn’t know you personally nor how loyal you are to the Holy See). I think the Vatican is just trying to maintain the intergrity of their publications.

    • farmerjohn

      “a couple of different formats too”
      Aside from HTML (the site itself) and the PDF format, what other formats did you see?

      • Cathy R.

        There was another, which is no longer showing up and not being tech savvy I am not sure of what it was. No matter, I was still able to access it for free. I don’t think it was just about the money. I do think the church needs to protect the content of her publications and I really think this is more of what it’s all about.

  • Free the Word!

  • Mike


  • Phrem man

    Free the Word!

  • Marian


  • farmerjohn

    *desist (darn autocorrect)
    Also, I have emailed the USCCB.

  • farmerjohn

    Absolutely, Free The Word!!

    It can be protected and propagated at the same time. Please, let’s evangelize in the modern era more effectively, without the ridiculousness. Cease and distress? Please. Steal from the Pope? Please.

  • Marc Cardaronella

    Shutting down Matthew Warner’s Catechism project was horrid! When has there ever been over 100,000 people all reading the Catechism at the same time? It was amazing! That number alone should have been enough inspiration to strike a deal. This definitely has to change. FREE THE WORD!

  • Gary DuVall

    Free the Word!

  • johnnyc

    Much more important issues than this. If you want to petition for a policy change how bout one that would prevent this from happening…..

  • Todd

    You make a thorough case. There are two points you may have missed.

    1. You earn part of your living through your web site: your invitation to do speaking engagements and such. I do not. I don’t even take donations. It was because of this that the USCCB and ICEL and others have permitted me to excerpt texts: because they don’t “help” me profit from them.
    2. The time to make the case is not when a document is released, but well before. Give this more time to percolate in the minds of the people who make the rules. You and Father Z and others may look like opportunists, hoping to cash in on a trend.

    • Todd, you say “You earn part of your living through your web site.” Besides being not true, it’s irrelevant to my argument. I work full-time as a mechanical engineer and my web site doesn’t make any money for my family. In fact all my online work *costs* me hundreds of dollars of month.

      Yet even if I was making money through this effort, it would be irrelevant to whether the Church should restrict the distribution of sacred texts (or charge for it.)

      Also, you claim, “The time to make the case is not when a document is released, but well before.” I disagree, and I do so from experience. I and others *did* try to make this case, privately and publicly, before the “Lumen Fidei” dustup. But it never gained much traction. The Flocknote Catechism and “Lumen Fidei” situations helped bring it to light.

      Finally, you insinuate that Fr. Z and I are “hoping to cash in on a trend.” That’s a pretty serious charge that needs to be substantiated. I’m not making *any* money off of this, nor is Fr. Z as far as I know (he’s released his recording for free.) Please provide evidence to the contrary or withdraw the accusation.

  • Sounds good to me. I sign. Free the Word!

  • Ben Dunlap

    I think you mean something like “overhead” more than “sunk costs” but in any case that point is a very good one. It would be a little odd for clerics whose job is to teach the faith, to expect compensation over and above their current living for … teaching the faith, by way of contributing to magisterial documents.

    Given your cites from canon law, though, it strikes me that an e-book is almost certainly a ‘new edition’. If the point of those canons is to lay out need to seek a new imprimatur (or similar doctrinal approval) when publishing a new edition of a previously-approved text — well, this makes sense in principle. Who’s to say that the producer of an e-book didn’t accidentally leave out three or four key pages when copying and pasting? This is of course an entirely separate question from that of copyright.

    Perhaps the canonical definition of “new edition” needs to be refined, or there needs to be some sort of automated way of doing a basic sanity-check of a new electronic edition, to verify that all the words of the original are present and in the same order. This system could also issue some sort of digital certificate for verbatim new editions (an e-imprimatur, so to speak).

    This doesn’t seem like a technologically insurmountable challenge, but it’s not quite trivial either. And it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of new editions that include any sort of commentary.

  • Free the Word.

    “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.” 2 Corinthians 4:3 (KJV!)

  • Maggie Scheck Geene

    I agree wholeheartedly with this. Especially because in the instance of Lumen Fidei the KINDLE version that Brandon first offered was much more user friendly for anyone who wished to highlight passages and take notes than the PDF file offered by the Vatican which doesn’t allow either.

    Since Pope Francis is all about not receiving riches he should think this is a great idea. I would think this is right in line with the New Evangelization; offering this great work in as many versions as possible as quickly and as inexpensively as possible.

  • Carol Sayer Daley

    Free the Word!

  • Chad Meyer

    I agree that there are serious issues with respect to copyright and something should be done. For Church authorities to continue as they are is a scandal and seems to go against the ideas of Pope Francis. I support the ideas presented in this post as a possible solution.

  • Thank you for doing this! Here’s the message I just sent ot the USCCB:

    I support Brandon Vogt and his Free the Word campaign. I was personally devastated to lose the daily Catechism readings earlier this year. When I
    was getting the daily emails, I was on track to read the Catechism in a
    year with thousands of my friends. I didn’t miss a single day. I already
    own a hard copy of the Catechism. I have for many years. When you took
    away the emails I even bought the ebook version hoping that I would get
    to it better if it were on my iPad. But guess what? I haven’t. I haven’t
    read it at all. That’s my bad of course, but it’s yours too. Why
    wouldn’t you want to make it as easy as possible for me to read the
    Catechism and the encyclicals and the Bible? I know you can figure out
    how to make this happen.

    Free the word!

    Kendra Tierney
    Author: A Little Book About Confession for Kids, Ignatius Press 2014

  • Lawrence Lam


  • Nathan Allen

    A balanced suggestion that both protects copyright and spreads the word.

  • Free the word!!!

  • Faramir

    Free the word!

  • Matthew Vogler


  • GaudiumDei

    I’d like to hear Ed Peter’s thoughts on this. Has he commented yet?

    • Ryan Herr

      I’d like to hear his thoughts (although it’s really a matter of copyright law rather than canon law) regarding the fact that “sound recording”, “abridgment”, and “condensation” are all defined as “derivative works” by Creative Commons, and therefore it seems that the Attribution-NoDerivs license would not permit the “Read the Catechism in a Year” project, or podcast recordings of texts.

      • Ben Dunlap

        But is a verbatim excerpt either an ‘abridgment’ or ‘condensation’ under those definitions?

        • Ryan Herr

          You’re asking the right question – and I’m surprised Brandon didn’t address it in his original post.

          My understanding is that verbatim excerpt = derivative work, but I’m certainly no expert, and I don’t know for sure. I’d love to hear an expert point of view on this.

          • I agree that this needs to be addressed. If a new license is adopted, I’d love to see a “Handbook for Catholic Developers” of some sort, to actually assist developers use texts legally and responsibly. #FreeTheWord

            Thanks for your courage and humility, Brandon.

  • NH

    An excellent idea. One objection that is not mentioned is that the USCCB makes money from the royalties of their Scripture translation. I assume that money is used to help them function.

  • John Clem

    #FreeThe Word: Interesting that Ignatius Press and Lighthouse Media have released a new App today for iOS & Droid & Kindle for RSV-CE Bible and Ignatius Study Bible.

  • Brian Walden

    Free the Word!

  • Connie

    Yes–free the word!

  • Monica Peckinpaugh


  • Theodore Capaldi

    Free the Word!

  • johnnyc

    Really much ado about nothing. These documents are easily accessible. I don’t see the problem unless maybe your trying to get more blog hits. We should buy the book form anyway to support our local Catholic book stores and/or online book stores.

  • Mattjp78

    Free the Word!

  • aslide

    Free the Word!

  • Bryan

    The Vatican and USCCB needs to update their requirements. It’s no longer a print world.

  • Fr. Jay Finelli

    Great post, but I think you are talking to cyber space!

  • Dave Singleton

    Free the Word!

  • Faithr

    I’ll jump on board, even though I might have some reservations, but I think just the fact that you are opening this up to discussion is a wonderful thing, so thank you for that! I never realized it was such an issue. I think someone should call into one of those radio shows when they are interviewing Cardinal Dolan and ask him about this! I’d love to hear his response.

  • Andy

    Evangalization needs freedom to share the word – we are all apostles and teachers. A great idea – sign me up.

  • Absolutely! Can somebody put this petition in front of Cdl. Dolan? I don’t think he’d tolerate the obstructionism.

  • thomasc

    Yes – losing the Catechism in a Year project was a bizarre example of the Church shooting itsself in the foot.

  • Ján Morovič

    Free the Word!

  • Ken D.

    Free the Word!

  • Free the Word!!!!

  • Martha Tonn

    Please add ICEL to the list. They hold the copyrights to pretty much all of the English language liturgical texts, which are another rich source of the Church’s teachings. Although not magisterial exactly, the liturgy is the privileged source of the Church’s living Tradition, and extremely important texts for evangelization & catechesis.

  • Seminarian Matt

    Sharing is good and necessary, but this will not change without prayer. If every share represented a rosary prayed for this, this would get turned around very quickly, I suspect. PRAY!

  • Kyle Heimann

    Agreed. Been waiting on this for a long time. All Popple CDs are Creative Commons…. not sure why that matters to any of you, but I am a fan of it!

  • I Agree!

  • Susan Gates

    I agree. #freetheword

  • Micah Murphy

    Free the Word! Thanks for linking to my article, Brandon. Best of luck getting this to roll forward. I personally can tell you how extremely frustrating it is as a theology teacher not to be able to make or print the materials I need. It’s extra trouble explaining to my Protestant students why the Catholic Church puts so many restrictions on tools needed for evangelization. My dear bishops, I love you, I even run a large Facebook page dedicated to your support, but you’re killing us here! We can’t evangelize if we can’t use the tools of the trade!

  • Mike Hanley

    Please! “Free the Word”

  • Christy Isinger

    Go Brandon go! Free the Word!

  • Matthew Parris

    In the true “Spirit of Vatican II”, I agree: empower the laity to contribute all it can to evangelize!

  • s

    Free the Word!

  • Blaise Alleyne

    Fantastic. I support this.

    But why not public domain? That’s how the US government handles works, they’re not entitled to domestic copyright:

    So many works are already in the public domain — anything the Church has written before the past century, for example. These are timeless documents, why not straight to the public domain?

  • This is a no-brainer. Web trustworthiness is not a matter of legality but of authenticity. The Vatican, the USCCB, other episcopal and parochial sites are the “official” sources of their documents. If people are ever in doubt, they can just check against the versions hosted on the appropriate source. Errors in copying are hardly a new problem. 🙂

    If those organizations are being misrepresented, there are other legal tools to deal with that, if it comes to that. Copyright is mainly about money, not integrity. It wouldn’t have a time stamp if it were about the integrity of the work (i.e., works would never move into the public domain). And as you rightly point out, official catechetical/magisterial teaching comes from the *office*, not from the individuals per se. We faithful support our leaders/teachers through other means, so just wage doesn’t apply and, ergo, copyright doesn’t apply.

  • Christopher J. Lane

    Yes, Free the Word!

  • Tommy O’D

    Free the Word, please. And thank you for such a lucid article!

  • Rebecca Rooney

    Great work here!

  • Rozann Carter

    Free the Word!

  • Cory Hughes

    @bvogt1:disqus I’m one of those guys who would not have even known about the encyclical (let alone read it) if it had not been for your blog and enthusiasm for the faith. Thanks for that.

  • Claire

    YES!! There has to be a better way than the consistent cease and desist orders on so many projects that want to use scriptures and Vatican texts in modern media.

  • Free the Word!

  • Great Post! I love the fact that you provide a solution, not just complain about the problem.

  • stefanie

    I love your slogan, Brandon!

    It was so awful what USCCB did to Matthew Warner’s Flocknote version of delivering the CCC to hungry readers. Kinda like someone over there at headquarters was jealous of an amazing idea. It happens.
    I’m sorry they tried to squash your efforts, too. Golly.

    No one is trying to steal property – we’re trying to distribute to the world in a way that is technologically advanced. Gee whiz.
    I did download from the website and print the pdf “LF” so that my RCIA students can study it with me. I am grateful for the large margins the pdf provides — plenty of room for notes and commentary of our own.
    Carry on!

  • Amen. Free the Word!

  • Brandon, thank you so much for leading the way! Free the Word!!!

  • Jon Fermin

    this is a great idea and I think you are going about it with the right attitude.

  • James

    I support Free the Word!!!

  • Wolfsbane

    I whole-heartedly agree with this idea: we should be able to spread the teachings of the Church freely. Thank you for your post, and I hope the support continues and that the Word is, in the end, freed.

  • Harrison

    Let as many read it as possible. Everyone needs exposure to Church teaching. Let’s find a way to protect and share.

  • Timothy Burdick

    Can you make this available in kindle format? 🙂

    • You bet! Here it is:

  • fearmac

    Free the Word

  • Charles Corbalis

    Creative Commons approach seems very appropriate…it protects the content while making it easy to reproduce and redistribute.

  • Susan Windley-Daoust

    Yes and Amen!

  • Nesrad

    We could simply fall back on public domain material, like the time-honoured Catechism of the Council of Trent and the Douay-Rheims Bible, which are better than their modern equivalents anyway.

  • richard

    Great post Brandon. I understand now that this is a larger issue than what I had first thought. Yes. Free the Word!

  • Jo

    Thanks for bringing this issue to light so clearly, Brandon! I have also frustrated by the difficulties that caused disruptions to the Verbum Domini podcast and the ‘Read the Catechism in a Year’ project. Even if there are concerns that more open distribution via ePub formats, etc. would hurt print sales, they aren’t valid-we’ve already seen that ebooks aren’t a replacement for hard copies-in fact, they often drive sales. In most cases, it is a good thing that the Church moves slowly, but we have to stop dragging our feet about things that truly get in the way of evangelization. Free the Word!

  • Leo

    Totally agree!! Copyrighting the Bible has always been for me the most shameful act any publisher could do. Who has permission to copyright the God’s Word?! But it’s quite sad the USCCB and Vatican would react like they have for disseminating church teachings. Let’s pray for better.

  • Guest

    Totally agree!! Copyrighting the Bible has always been for me the most shameful act any publisher could do! Who has permission to restrict the Word of God?! But it’s quite sad the USCCB and Vatican would react like they have for disseminating church teachings. Let’s pray for better!

    • michigancatholic

      Easy to get around. There are lots of good versions, most of them better than the NAB anyway.

  • Michael Lindner

    Signing. Although I must add that Creative Commons licenses are not accepted in all countries, and have never defended a legal case in the US. I don’t know if it’s such a good idea to risk losing a copyright by using it. But still, the existing copyright has exceptions for certain use, whcih could be expanded.

  • Aurora Verkamp

    I was so upset when Read the Catechism in a Year switched from the official catechism to YOUCAT. I mean, I’m definitely still enjoying reading it each day and I’ve learned a great deal about my faith, but it’s just not as in-depth as the Catechism is. FREE THE WORD!

  • Fr. Cory Sticha

    Thank you for this! Free the Word!

  • Free the Word indeed, such a well thought out response.

  • David W

    My question: If the Vatican decides that the Creative Commons is not acceptable, will you support that decision?

  • We’ve needed to address this for quite some time. Thanks for taking up the ball, Brandon. Free the Word!

  • Guest

    Good sense and articulately argued. Free the word!

  • Suzanna

    Your proposed solutions make total sense. Thanks for posting this!

  • gonesimera

    At last, available for none Americans would be great.

  • Michael Newhouse

    I think this is more a human/institutional problem than one of logic that can be fixed with a good policy.
    We in the Church often fall prey to a mentality of ‘protecting our turf’…yes, even at the expense of the Kingdom.
    Pray for open hearts.

  • Rob Corzine

    Free the Word. The last clauses of the last canon in the 1983 Code of Canon Law should control this policy decision. “…having before one’s eyes the salvation of souls, which is always the supreme law of the Church.” (CIC 1752)

  • Nicole Chase

    Yes please! A very well-reasoned proposal 🙂

  • Behold the Lamb

    If this sad issue is not about money and is truly about protecting the integrity of Vatican documents, etc, then why doesn’t the Vatican have the documents PDF’d on their site so we can download and print them out for use in Faith Sharing Groups, Religious Education, etc?

  • robert

    i agree

  • Free the Word

  • Imp the Vladaler

    I disagree with only one aspect of this:

    You were not wrong, and you owed no one any apology.

  • Naomi Kietzke Young

    Brandon, I’ve brought this up in a librarians’ discussion group on Facebook, and I’ll also be sharing the link with some of my colleagues who are frequent bloggers in intellectual property issues.

    For those of you who think making material freely available online destroys its profit potential, I suggest you investigate the work of singer Jonathan Coulton.

    I have free ebook versions for some works in the public domain, and purchased print versions of the same book. The printed book may have a more modern translation, more extensive notes, or beautiful illustrations. Different forms have different uses.

    Even allowing redistributors to release a key chapter or two of a larger work could help spark interest in the full work; again, this has been proven in secular media to be an often successful strategy.

  • flexo

    Not only are reasonable excerpts fair use under copyright law, the Vatican has a policy of allowing them freely —
    From CNS, January 2006
    The Vatican Publishing House said the rules are not new or secret, but they are
    necessary to prevent pirated copies of papal documents — texts sold under the
    pope’s name but with no Vatican control over the content and no compensation to
    the Vatican. . . . Francesca Angeletti, who
    handles copyright permissions for the Vatican, told Catholic News Service the Vatican wanted to ensure the
    integrity of texts attributed to the pope and to prevent publishers from making
    money off his works without the knowledge of the Vatican and without giving the
    Vatican appropriate compensation.

    Newspapers, magazines and bishops’
    conferences, she said, still may publish papal texts without paying royalties as
    long as the texts are not changed and a line is included saying the text has
    been copyrighted by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

    • flexo

      Sorry about the messed up formatting, but the last paragraph is the money quote —
      Newspapers, magazines and bishops’ conferences, she said, still may publish papal texts without paying royalties as long as the texts are not changed and a line is included saying the text has been copyrighted by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

  • Behold the Lamb

    Hi Brandon and Brethren,

    You cannot serve GOD and MAMMON (Matthew 6:24).

    This news of the Vatican and USCCB actively stunting the Essential Mission of our Church is DEVASTATING. As a convert recognizing the need for our faith to become (more) familiar with Scripture and Faith Doctrine, I have spent the past year formatting PDF documents for the Fruits & Gifts of the Spirit, all 16 Vatican II docs, numerous Pastoral Letters on Evangelization collected from around the United States, the Beatitudes, 7 Deadly Sins, the Theological and Cardinal Virtues, etc…I have been painstaking about ensuring the integrity of each document remains intact and have formatted all documents with large print and wide left margins for 3 hole punching, with the prayer that souls could place them in their own Faith Library, use for Religious Education, etc.

    I have just completed the website dedicated as a monument to Jesus Christ,, and was in the process of sending the link to all Dioceses in the US with the hopes that the PDF documents could be freely shared with all sisters and brothers who have a desire to learn more about their faith. In turn, they would spread with others who may be led to join our Faith.

    Visiting our homepage and then scrolling down will show all the PDF docs made available…well, until they get taken down…

    And now this…..

    While I respect the Church’s policy, She has to decide what the Essential Mission of the Church is – EVANGELIZATION or MONEY (see Scripture above). We are closing churches and schools at an alarming rate and, instead of
    re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, we need to re energize our Faith
    with the Good News. Thanks for listening and have a richly blessed day…

  • Maria

    Free the Word!!!

  • Harold Benghazi Koenig

    Free the Word!

  • Paul Catalanotto

    I wound up having to use the Douay-R version of the Bible in a prayer book I was putting together for the High School at which I worked because of the copyright on the NAB. Meh.

    I support Free the Word.

  • Benoit Meyrieux

    Free the Word!

  • Free the Word!

  • Saul Keeton

    #freetheword, #FTW!

  • John

    I have wondered this for some time. It’s incongruous and unhelpful to proper evangelization and catechesis. The Church has been slow to update the needed outlets on the web, and it should allow this to move forward, most especially for the mobile platforms that these archaic policies are needlessly prohibiting in ham-handed ways. FREE THE WORD!

  • Ryan Herr

    I support Free the Word, but the Creative Commons-Attribution-NoDerivs license is not the answer. This license would not permit the “Read the Catechism in a Year” project, or podcast recordings of texts, because “sound recording”, “abridgment”, and “condensation” are all defined as “derivative works.”

    “Derivative Work” means a work based upon the Work or upon the Work and other pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which the Work may be recast, transformed, or adapted, except that a work that constitutes a Collective Work will not be considered a Derivative Work for the purpose of this License. For the avoidance of doubt, where the Work is a musical composition or sound recording, the synchronization of the Work in timed-relation with a moving image (“synching”) will be considered a Derivative Work for the purpose of this License.

    • Ryan Herr

      If I understand Collective Work correctly, then Jeff Miller’s “Weekly Benedict/Francis” project would be permitted under the NoDerivs license, because the Weekly Francis is simply collecting texts together without any abridgment or condensation of the texts. (Caveat that I may not understand Derivative Work and Collective Work correctly.)

    • Matthew Warner

      Ryan – that’s an excellent observation and one I hadn’t thought of yet. We’d need more clarification on it. I think that the “Catechism in a Year” project would not be considered a derivative work, though. The copyrighted aspect (the text) was not abridged, condensed or altered. It was simply copied in sections and then consumed in a new space (it’s basically an extended version of “fair use” practices, really, where exact quotes from the text are used in their original format…text). So my understanding is that it would not be considered a derivative work. Just as incorporating the text into other apps or websites or written formats would not be considered derivative works, but copies of the original text presented in new places.

      On the sound recording question, though, I think you may be right. As it is no longer text, but a performance of the text.

      Personally, I’d lean toward allowing such recordings. So I’d vote for a license that allows for such a recording.

      I could be wrong on these interpretations though. But this is precisely why this conversation is a good one to have! The details still need to be worked out and implications fully hashed out and understood. And thoughtful comments like yours are exactly what we need. I hope this continues and eventually the best solution will present itself. Thank you.

      • I think these are easily solvable problems. For example, you could adopt the Creative Commons-Attribution–NoDerivs license and *add* stipulations to allow audio recordings or distributed excerpts. The CC license is, from my view, the ideal starting point for what the policy should begin.

  • Lincoln Wood

    Free the Word! This proposal makes a lot of sense. Something needs to be done.

  • An unjust law is no law at all; so says a doctor of the Church:

    “As Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5) “that which is not just seems to be no law at all”: wherefore the force of a law depends on the extent of its justice. Now in human affairs a thing is said to be just, from being right, according to the rule of reason. But the first rule of reason is the law of nature, as is clear from what has been stated above (91, 2, ad 2). Consequently every human law has just so much of the nature of law, as it is derived from the law of nature. But if in any point it deflects from the law of nature, it is no longer a law but a perversion of law.” Summa Theologica, I-II, Q. 95, Art. 2.

    Copyright law may be just–just maybe–but the application of it in the case of pencil-pushers, not the Magisterium, in Rome shutting down the distribution of a papal encyclical, which by its very nature is meant for wide circulation, is absolutely unjust.

    I, for one, support this effort to revise the copyright license on these works. However, in the meantime, I will ignore demands that I cease from circulating an encyclical when my bishop so demands.

  • Joe

    This is actually quite sad… while I applaud your willingness to apologize and defer to authority, it doesn’t change the fact that you are right in your accusations… lawyers and bureaucrats have demonstrated a willingness to put money over mission. Given the clearly stated mission of the Church to evangelize, the onus is on them to prove otherwise. Something tells me that Pope Francis–and even many of our Bishops–if they knew about the situation, would express justifiable anger and frustration… and immediately free the Word!

  • Russell T


  • Fr. Jon

    Free the Word!

  • Phil Ipp


  • Catholic Mutt

    Completely agree that something needs to be done! I read the encyclical on the Vatican website, but it’s much easier to read in an eBook format. I have NOT read several other encyclicals that I wanted to read because I find it restrictive to sit at the computer to read these things, and I can’t highlight and come back to it later. AND I was faithfully following along with the Catechism in a year when it was the full thing, but while I think Youcat is a good thing, it hasn’t been enough to keep me engaged. Plus, I have quickly given up on some Liturgy of the Hours because the app I found with it had some weird translation since they couldn’t use the real one.

    Free the Word!

  • Heather

    Go, Brandon! We’re with you!

  • Theophilus2

    I don’t understand. These works are already free and maintained by the proper apostolate. Link to them, for they are in hallowed ‘ground’. All things in Christ

    • Theophilus, you may not understand if you don’t read the post. I directly address this inquiry in Question 7 above.

  • Thank you again Brandon for all you do for all of us…and yes, FREE THE WORD!

  • Guest

    I think this is a sensible suggestion which should, if nothing else, open up further, serious discussion. It is sadly ironic that this problem has come to light during the Year of Faith. The Church needs to find a new way to make sure that the truths of the Faith get disseminated as widely, and as freely, as possible. Our world is hurting, and the Church alone has the balm we need. Let it flow freely!

  • Sam A.

    There is a lot of money to be made in re-publishing official Church documents. I know for a fact because we published a Mass card with the new translation at, and sold 1.3 million cards, paying 5% royalty to ICEL. When we sought to do the same thing in Canada, we were denied permission by the Canadian bishop’s conference specifically because sales of worship aides were an important revenue source for them.

    • Sam, thanks for the comment! I agree there is money to be made, but there is nothing in my proposed solution that would prevent a for-profit company from charging money (if they wish.) What my proposal allows for is *other* companies, or individuals, to offer the same materials cheaper or for free.

      Ultimately, though, potential profit should not trump evangelization.

      • The point is that if you give people a choice between paying for something and getting it free most will choose the free option. So there is real money to be lost here. That needs to be addressed. I think evangelization does generate money for the church. Some don’t understand that. You strengthen a man’s faith and he improves his spiritual practice in many areas including alms-giving.

        Another issue might be the particular place in the organization the money goes. If they lose $1 million in revenue and get $10 million in additional donations to various parishes the particular department in the bishops conference that loses the $1 million won’t get that $10 million. Their little empire loses so sending lawyers to stop it would make sense to them.

        • Randy, all good points. I’m not arguing that freely licensing the texts wouldn’t cause some current revenue to dry up. It will. But there are several reasons why that’s an acceptable trade-off, including:

          1. Evangelization trumps revenue. Open and free access to distribute these texts should be far more important than any potential income they may provide.

          2. If the money derived from these texts goes to crucial, irreplaceable programs–which we’re not sure it does since we don’t know what the money goes to–then that revenue may need to be transferred away from some other expenditure or fundraised separately. But that’s a totally separate issue from the one I’m addressing. How or whether that money needs to be replaced is separate from how the Church’s licensing policy affects its evangelistic mission.

          3. Your final point is the most interesting one, I think. If the USCCB and/or Holy See frames the issue in this way, as a sort of “what’s in it for me and my group” attitude, then it’s extremely unfortunate. The Church is One Body, and thus a net gain of $10 million for the whole Church is far better than a net gain of $1 million for one group within it. We’re not competing against each other here for financial leverage. We should all be in this together: us, the USCCB, and the Holy See. When the whole Church wins we all win.

          PS. Your comments at Strange Notions have been *fantastic* lately, as was your follow-up post to my interview with Chana. Thanks so much!

  • lkaap

    Hear, hear!!!

  • TJPW

    Free! The! Word!

  • Shane

    Definitly – free the word

  • Jean Pergande

    Yes, free the word.

  • Julie D.

    Always a controversy and issue when none exists. You are making a mountain out of a molehill for your ego and believe it or not. Before facebook, bloggers and you the faithful had no problems receiving information. You, young man need to learn HUMILITY.

  • From the Code of Canon Law:
    Can. 210 All the Christian faithful must direct their efforts to lead a holy life and to promote the growth of the Church and its continual sanctification, according to their own condition.

    Can. 211 All the Christian faithful have the duty and right to work so that the divine message of salvation more and more reaches all people in every age and in every land.

    Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

    §2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

    §3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian
    faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with
    reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

  • Maggie Goff

    Brandon, thank you! I TOTALLY AGREE.

  • Jan Frederik Solem

    I have (in a very small way) been promoting the Creative Commons licence among Dominicans for some time already. Thanks for launching this petition – Free the Word!

    • Great to know, Jan! Thanks! I’m guessing St. Dominic (and St. Thomas) would be huge fans of Creative Commons licensing.

      • Jan Frederik Solem

        My thought exactly 🙂

  • Guest

    A very thoughtful and well intentioned analysis. I may be one of the few people here who remains skeptical of our culture’s techno lust. Since when did books go out of style? Technology is rarely a solution to authentic communication, as is painfully obvious by the universe of zeros and ones in which our youngest neighbors perpetually reside. I would dismantle the whole monstrous machinery and tell Catholics to make babies instead.

    • But then you couldn’t have made this insightful comment 😉

      • Guest

        Indeed 😉 I too have succumbed to the numbness. May God bless your mission my friend.

  • Marika Donders


  • Very well put Brandon. I agree with your concern and hope that a solution can be made to allow the Gospel to reach the ends of the Earth. Keep up your amazing work!

  • Wholly agreed, Brandon. Great job!

    • Only one thing I wonder: Is the “Disqus” platform the ideal way of collecting signatures for a “petition” drive? Could a form letter engine or something of the sort be set up?

  • Chad Huelsman

    Free the Word

  • JeffAStevens

    This is absolutely, exactly, and comprehensively right on the money. Sharing as widely as I can.

  • Heck yes. I’ve been working on a converting JPII’s Theology of the Body into an eBook (complete with chapter-by-chapter headings, subheadings, linked footnotes, etc.) and I’ve been wanting to share it. Unfortunately, I’d rather not get sued…

    Free the Word.

  • Leroy Huizenga
  • simchafisher

    Free the Word! Thank you, Brandon.

  • John Drake

    Sorry, Brandon, you’re dead wrong on this. Virtually all the material you mention is available at legitimate, authorized sites. You just need to link back to them.

    • Thanks for the comment, John. Not sure if you read the whole post, but I respond to your exact objection in Question 7 above.

  • ChessGriffin

    Great idea – Free the Word!

  • Magdalen Dobson

    Excellently written, clearly and courteously explained post. Thank you for your willingness to evangelize, especially in your new website Strange Notions.

  • Thanks for linking to my post, Brandon — I hope parishes and dioceses will find it useful!

  • Joanna Robinson

    Free the Word!

  • Stuart

    You have my prayers to Free the Word!

  • Oh, yeah, I support this!

    I was on the task of converting all the encyclicals that I could find to epub format. So, everybody could read it, everywhere and any time.

    • Shackra: Neat! It’s a great idea, but I’d encourage you not to post them online yet. That’s still a violation of their current policy, and until it changes, we should honor it.

      • mcbeck

        I have obtained permission for my site (Papal Encyclicals Online) from the LEV to convert these papal documents to eReader format. A dedicated volunteer that was helping me with this has been tied up on work projects for the past year+. If someone else would like to help …. with the added cover page …. to MOBI and EPUB files, I’d accept the help. We’ve gotten them down up through Pope John XXIII. This would be for the documents of Pope Paul VI forward to Pope Francis.

        The requirements.- texts to be used from the Vatican website without modifications or changes made in them;
        – Reference is to be made to the LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA;
        – reproduction and print for selling is forbidden.

        • Now if they would just shorten that down to a code and stick the reproduction policy code at the bottom of all documents to which the policy applies, that would, in fact, “free the word”. It’s a trivial change that would save an awful lot of time and effort calling up the LEV and establishing that the policy for you would also be the policy for me.

      • oh Lord, ok ok 🙂

  • Joshua Mercer

    I tip my hat to Brandon for not just diagnosing a problem but offering a credible solution. Brandon’s proposal would allow a flourishing of the splendor of the Church’s teachings while ensuring that the integrity of the documents. A brilliant idea.

  • Free the Word!

    • G. Jacob

      Thanks Brandon, absolutely on track! Free the WORD!

  • Christopher

    Free the Word!

  • Stevie Meng

    Free the Word

  • GP

    Technology today and in the future is limitless. I don’t forsee how anyone who publishes anything would not imagine it being a part of cyber world for all to see. And in regards to evangelization, it is now being done in the comforts of our own private spaces wherever that might be! The Word or whatever else are now traveling near the speed of light and sound!!

    Collaboration and cooperation with all concerned should provide for the good of all and for all. Again, the laws of man prohibits the law of nature.

  • Christina Thompson Dyer

    Free the word!!!

  • Jason R. Pascucci

    Yes, agree.

    In the digital age, other formats are not something a central authority can really handle, there are too many.

    I think this is too modest an action: the way the USCCB (and indeed many Diocese) operate does not at all utilize all the resources that individual Catholics can offer, and it does violence to the New Evangelization.

    Rather than being arbiters of content, they should be empowering individuals and smaller, more local organization, based on their own good behavior (especially their fidelity), to do the good.

    This is subsidiarity, and it’s a duty, not an option.

  • Jane Korvemaker

    Well worth the time to read; very well written! Thank you for taking up the cause and venturing into this territory.

  • Annette

    free the Word, please please please! We need innovation!

  • Andy

    Excellent explanation and proposal.

    I sign.

  • Fr. Michael

    Yes! Free the Word!

  • Marcel LeJeune

    It really is about money. They get a large revenue stream from holding the copyright of the NAB, lectionary, missal,English language Catechism, etc.

    They won’t let this go easily.

    • Marcel, if that’s the case, and I suspect it might be, I’d like the Holy See and USCCB to openly and publicly admit it. It would paint starkly the true picture which I (pre-maturely) suggested: that this is a case of valuing money over evangelization. And if that’s true it’s absolutely devastating and must change. I believe Pope Francis would agree.

      Also, note my response to Question 3. These documents should not be making money for other activities. Other income, tithing, and charitable giving should be used to support *these documents.* Spreading them freely is what’s of primary importance, not cashing in on them.

      • Ian

        “It would paint starkly the true picture which I (pre-maturely) suggested: that this is a case of valuing money over evangelization.”

        It’s definitely clear that there’s a problem and that licensing options need to change to keep up with technology and culture. But I’m not sure that I agree with your statement above. What if the USCCB said “Yep, it’s an important revenue stream – which we use to fund evangelization efforts, serve the poor, and fight for religious freedom?” I don’t think it would be a stark case of choosing money over evangelization, but a very complicated case of trying to balance the needs of a very large organization that serves many different constituencies. That is not to say that it’s impossible for rent-seeking to be an issue, but it just seems like things could be an awful lot more complicated than that.

        • Ian: I don’t necessarily want to go down this road, because financial management can quickly become a touchy issue, but check out the USCCB’s freely-available financial statements at

          The latest is from 2011, and in that year their income from royalties and permissions was less than 1% of their total revenue stream. It’s simply not a strong argument to say these fees are necessary.

          But again, per my original post, we shouldn’t even frame this issue in financial terms. This is about evangelization and openness to spreading Church teaching.

          • Marcel LeJeune

            Sale of publications income from 2011 – $7,526,020
            Royalty income from2011 – $1,786,217

            This is not just a drop in the bucket…

          • Marcel, the sale income is not applicable here because *they could still sell the documents.* That wouldn’t change. That income might drop slightly but it wouldn’t vanish.

            The royalty income was what I was talking about. In 2011, their total revenue (restricted and unrestricted) was over $196 million. So $1.7 million sounds like a lot but it’s less than 1% of their total income.

            Also, that $196 million includes $89 million from national collections and $10 million from diocesan assesments.

            I’m arguing that *whatever* costs are associated with maintaining, translating, or safeguarding these texts should come out of that $99 million that the faithful give to the USCCB each year. And that the $1.7 million they’d relinquish by not selling permissions could be made up in the rest of the $196 million revenue each year.


          • Ian

            OK, these details make your case more compelling to me. Thanks! This may seem a bit crass but I suppose it is also true that the best way for the USCCB to grow income would be for there to be, you know, more Catholics. And it does seem like you’d get a pretty huge bang for your buck by unleashing people such as your self and Matt Warner on these documents…almost certainly more than $1.7 million worth of central planning.

          • Ian: Another very good point. The more well-formed, evangelized, and converted Catholics in the world, the higher the Church’s income will be. Though perhaps crass, that’s a simple fact.

            I’m willing to bet the USCCB and Holy See would make far more money from tons of newly-evangelized Catholics than from licensing fees.

          • Is it purely about evangelization and spreading Church teaching? No financial interest? Evangelization has become a convenient business for many people, lay and clergy. Just pay the royalties or use it as you are legally permitted to use it for free when doing evangelization or teaching.

        • Marcel LeJeune

          From the USCCB on royalty fees:
          “Royalty fees earned by licensing the text to companies who publish and sell Bibles help to provide funds for Scripture scholarship and other educational needs.”

          • I’ve seen that, but that statement is still a bit vague. How much money is going to these things? And which activities? How do we know they’re necessary? How can we be sure they’re more important than releasing the texts to the world?

            Those are all questions I have.

          • Marcel LeJeune

            We just don’t have the public files to be able to see where it goes. Do they earmark the money from royalties?

            Whatever the associated cost vs profit, it seems the benefit in helping save souls should be at the forefront of this conversation.

          • I could not agree more. St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that the greatest act of charity is leading someone to the Truth. Let’s make that encounter as easy as possible.

          • Micah Murphy

            Scripture scholarship? Educational needs? No Scripture scholars with the USCCB have published a significantly new translation (or a good one) in 40 years. Divide the royalties by the number of scholars involved in the translations, since there has been no ostensibly on-going work. Is that the annual wage for a Bible translator? Not likely. As for education, I’m a high school theology teacher and the titles on my bookshelves published by the USCCB are fewer than 10. Which of those did the USCCB help me purchase? None. Where are the materials and aid they’re allegedly giving educators? I suspect that the USCCB, like most diocesan offices, has rather bloated budgets that need to be paid for.

          • When I worked as an associate director (i.e., not the main director where the buck stopped) within the Dept. of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Diocese of Sacramento, our overall department budget was huge. Let’s say… $800,000 (n.b., this is not accurate), yet “we” spent a considerable amount of time/effort/energy trying to make $10k to $20k on our one big event of the year. This determined who we invited (read: must be sponsored by a publisher) and how much we charged participants (read: more would have come if we didn’t charge so much). At the end of the day, we were trying to make a profit to support a meager 1-3% of our non-profit department’s budget. It’s a true rabbit’s hole that should never be entertained.

      • Joshua Mercer

        My goodness. If true, it becomes the greatest example yet of penny wise, pound foolish.

        • Lincoln Wood

          Thanks for this discussion guys. It clarifies what can be clarified and moves the dialogue forward. i appreciate the fact that you “do your homework.”

      • But to be fair I am sure there is financial benefit to all who wish use this work of the Vatican, even if it is indirectly. Maybe the increased traffic to someone’s website will cause an income stream from advertising other products, etc. Alternatively when it is sold, even at cost, who decides what is true cost. How do we know that someone is not paying himself a huge salary and building that into the cost, while claiming he is just recovering the costs of distributing the Vatican’s work. I think it has become a convenient business for many today and I am not as convinced that the motives are always pure and solely focused on helping to “spread the Word”.

        • And yet- even that income stream goes to *generating more Catholics*, which yields greater income for the USCCB, the Holy Father, and the Church as a whole.

          Sometimes, as Paul said, the worker is worthy of his wage.

  • diane_6LlR97VP6

    Free the Word!

  • Brantly Millegan

    Free the Word

  • Great, charitable post, Brandon. Thanks for leading the way!

    “Freely you have received; freely give.” – Matthew 10:8

    • Kathryn Bemowski

      This just seems like a non-issue. I would expect it in the secular arena, but with the Word of God, and the teachings wof HIS Chuch???? This is a nightmare. Never in my dreams have I ever suspected that the Word of God would be stifled by the CATHOLIC CHURCH! Now I believe that the end is near…

  • Hannah Brockhaus

    Free the Word!

  • FatherJasonWorthley

    Free the Word!

  • Joycey

    I concur.

  • Marilyn H

    Free the Word! Please!!

  • Looks great Brandon. Thanks for setting such a great example of humility, reason, diplomacy, and respect.

  • jen

    Totally agreed.

  • VickiS

    I agree #FREETHEWORD Many people will not seek the information but would be pleased to receive the Word.

  • truebluekatie

    The USCCB shutting down the Catechism in a Year project was so incredibly disappointing. It was such an easy way to share a teaser on social media with a link to what the CCC says — the online versions of the Catechism are almost impossible to link to handily. If the Vatican and USCCB don’t want to share things more freely, they really need to get with the internet age and update their materials and access.

    Also, didn’t Jesus totally reprimand His disciples for this?

  • Fr. Darryl

    This is fantastic, Brandon!

  • Michael Marchand

    Well said! Just think of all the possibilities…

  • Sam

    FREE THE WORD! It is absurd in the age of mass communication that we are quibbling over copyrights. The New Evangelization is about using these tools to spread Catholic truth far and wide. If we can’t do that due to outdated policies, we shouldn’t complain when parishes close and Catholics remain ignorant of the faith.

  • Excellent points. I am in complete agreement.

  • Matthew Warner

    Free the Word!

  • I support FREE the WORD!

  • Yes, please! This is crucial for the church to evangelize. Allow the laity to use their talents to help spread the word in innovative ways.

  • I wonder if Fr. Z’s commentary on a section of Lumen Fidei with his usual black-and-red emphases and commentary goes beyond fair use.

  • Jeff Geerling

    Very lucid explanation. The actual details of how the licensing would work may not be exactly what’s needed, but the point that licensing needs to change, and evangelical initiatives should be embraced, is very clear and will hopefully not fall on deaf ears.

  • Yes, please. This pearl of great price is actually free of charge!

  • Awe Struck

    Free the Word!