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,

Burlington, VT.)

"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

ignored them.

"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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