BASIC R.C. BELIEF
Permission to have a book dealing with a religious subject printed, which
is requested of a Bishop after the Nihil Obstat (which signifies censorship
and approval) is received. The Imprimatur (let it be printed) doesn't pre-
suppose that the bishop who grants this approves of its contents, but that
it is judged that the book may be read without detriment to faith and
morals. It doesn't guarantee infallibility for the teachings of the book.
The wide variety of doctrinal emphasis in Roman Catholic books is
indicative of the wide variety of theologies among her bishops.
From TIME, 12/29/67. "END OF THE IMPRIMATUR. One way the Roman Catholic
Church has traditionally tried to presvent the spread of error and heresy
is by the use of the imprimatur. According to canon law, any book by a
Catholic layman or cleric dealibng with faith and morals must be cleared by
a diocesan censor (Nihil Ovbstat) and approved for publication by a bishop,
normally shown by the Latin word imprimatur - let is be printed. (Now)
there is a widespread feeling among publishers and theologians that the
whole system ought to be adbandoned.
"The main complaint against prior censorship is that it is a unjustified
restraint on intellectual freedom and encouraged timidity in theological
speculation. . . Since bishops and censors vary considerably in openness
to new ideas, publishers frequently have been forced to display diplomatic
ingenuity in finding a prelate willing to approve a touchy book. (Ed
Questionable Catholic books often had the imprimatur of Bishop Joyce,
"The imprinatur is no guarantee that the book will not be attacked as
"More and more, Catholic authors and publishers are simply not bothering
to ask for imprimaturs, especially for books that would not be likely to
get them anyway. So far at least, there have been no concerted complaints
from the hierarchy. Students of church law agree that the rules on
imprimaturs would simply fall into disuse if enough publishers and writers
"Rome said not a word recently when (an) Italian publishing house . . .
published a collection of essays called IS GOD DEAD? without any indication
that the book had an imprimatur. Among the contributors were Canon Charles
Moeller and Msgr. Pietro Pavan, both of them officials of the Vatican's
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Ed: formerly called the
Inquisition), which sets rules for censorship in the church."
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