There is a theory out there that the Catholic Church doesn’t want anyone to read the Bible; especially not lay Catholics. I assume this theory comes from the fact that so many Catholics don’t read the Bible; that certainly isn’t the Church’s teaching!
The Bible was available to all people through Church history. Was it chained to the pulpit? Yes, because Bibles cost 3 to 10 years’ wages and churches could hardly afford to lose them. Did the Catholic Church write the Bible in Latin so no one could read it? The Church wrote the Bible in Latin because if you could read, you could read Latin. The Catholic Church had over 200 versions of the Bible written in vernacular (local languages) before the Reformation. The first book to come off the printing press was the Catholic version of the Bible.
The Catholic Church’s efforts have always been to allow Catholics access to the Scriptures.
Even statues, stained glass, and icons were instituted to help people understand the Scriptures. When the Bible was written 9 in 10 people couldn’t read so the Church commissioned artists and sculptors to draw the story of Jesus so even the illiterate could “read” the scriptures through pictures and statues.
The Mass, the Catholic worship, is “soaked” in Scripture. The prayers said by the priest and the congregation draw heavily from the Bible. At daily Mass there is a reading from the Old Testament, a psalm, and the Gospel while at Sunday Mass one of the non-Gospel New Testament books is also read from. From beginning to end the Catholic Mass is filled with references and direct quotes from the Bible.
The Catholic Church used every means it could think of to help people get access to the Truth of the Gospel.
If you don’t believe the Church teaches us to read the Bible; maybe this can change your mind:
“Read assiduously, and learn as much as you can. Let sleep overtake you with the Bible in your hands. And when your head nods, let it be resting on the Sacred page.” -St. Jerome (translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible)
“The Church forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christina faithful to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” – Catechism of the Catholic Church 133