It's not so much an issue of access, as if the Church had the Bible under lock and key, snatching it away from people, but a lot of people in the 15th century were illiterate, with the exception of those who did go to schools run by the church, or those fortunate enough to be born into families where they had the wealth and means to gain an education and hire tutors, etc. The Church didn't keep the Bible from anyone, in fact, if you research the history, you'll see some of the earliest writings and texts from women (Middle ages, onward) were women educated by the Church and quoting the Bible. So first, I think you have to take into account that there wasn't widespread literacy in the West to the extent we have it now. Secondly, the printing press didn't exist until 1440, so before this year, Bibles were hand-copied and expensive to produce. That's why it was very common to have "a family Bible" which an entire family could share and pass down. I think the issue isn't so much about "reading the Bible for one's self," but asserting that my individual interpretation of the Bible is THE official interpretation OVER the wisdom of Tradition and dogma. I believe @Honey Bee mentioned that a lot of stuff has been hashed out, debated, documented and studied in Catholicism--plus we have Apostolic Tradition guiding us. So if I come along in 2017 asserting that everyone was wrong for 2,000 years and *I* am right--it's kind of unlikely that the the great Fathers, Doctors, Apostles, etc. got it wrong, and suddenly I'm setting the standard for Biblical interpretation or doctrine. I think such an underlying point of view contributes to disunity as well as conflicting views. Just think, John Calvin and the Calvinists believe we are depraved and predestined to either Heaven or Hell, without free will or choice. While John Wesley (founder of the Methodists) believed in the opposite. Who is correct? On whose side was the Holy Spirit? Logically, two opposite views can't both be true or correct, so which is it? This is why there needs to be a definitive authority on interpretation and doctrine.