Catholic books without nihil obstat/imprimatur

In the student center at my university parish I noticed a couple of books on the faith and as I perused them, something seemed ‘off’. They were saying things like the church is doing itself a disservice by not ordaining women and that the Eucharist is more about the breaking of the bread than the “magic,” and that the church sort was sort of confused about this during the dark ages but fixed that at V2, etc. Anyway, I checked for the nihil obstat and the imprimatur and I couldn’t find them (I can guess why). I don’t remember the titles off the top of my head, but one was by Michael J. Himes and the other by Msgr. James Songy.

My question is, is it ok that these are in the church since they haven’t been approved by a bishop? Is it ok to even read them? If I didn’t know better, I would have assumed that what they contained was orthodox are about Catholicism and were written by priests (and were sitting in the room where RCIA was held). Thanks!

I would think this is problematic. It would seem to me that having a book in such a place implies that it is more or less correct, which is obviously not the case. I would not think that it is necessarily bad to read them though, so long as one knows the faith well enough not to be confused.

Sounds like you could probably find much better books to read…just because a priest is the author doesn’t guarantee that what you’re reading is orthodox material.

Even an imprimatur or nihil obstat doesn’t mean that the bishop who gave it agrees with what’s in the book, he’s just asserting that it’s free from doctrinal or moral error.

The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are not always found in Catholic books any more and are not always required. I have a couple of books by the Pope and they have neither. So you can’t judge the orthodoxy by their absence. There are a lot of perfectly fine, orthodox Catholic books out there that do not have these designations.

Would the Pope even need to ask another bishop to ‘Imprimatur’ his book? Or is it automatically ‘Imprimatured’ [not a word, lol] by the fact of his office?

Maybe the sheer volume of books nowadays prevents bishops from reading as many manuscripts as they used to. Or maybe not as many are submitted for approval.

Thanks everyone!

I can confirm that.

A good example from a book I have sitting right near me: Pope Benedict’s excellent book Jesus of Nazareth (both parts) does not have either one. Neither does his reflection on the liturgy, The Spirit of the Liturgy.

Both of these are excellent books (I haven’t read the latter one yet, but I’ve only heard good things) and I would recommend that people read them.

For a book published by the Pope (or even a bishop) to have an imprimatur would be redundant. The imprimatur is a declaration from a local ordinary that the book may be published. If the book was written by the local ordinary, that kind of goes without saying. No other bishop would presume to put himself in the position of giving another bishop “permission” to publish his book. Bishops have authority in lieu of their office.

I agree with other posters that the absence of the nihil obstat and imprimatur aren’t necessarily an indication that you shouldn’t read something. Also, the absence of them being printed in the book is not necessarily an indication that the book doesn’t have them. I know of some books that have received the imprimatur, but for whatever reason the publisher doesn’t want to indicate that.

That said, from what you have said, the books you are talking about seem to have some pretty glaring deficiencies. That is not appropriate for a parish library. People (understandably) assume they can trust the content of what they find in a parish library. If I were you, I would bring it to the attention of whoever is in charge and respectffully request they be removed. Those in charge of stocking the library don’t know the complete content of every book on the shelf. So it’s important to let them know when you come across stuff like this.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.