How authorative is an IMPRIMATUR?


how authoratative is a IMPRIMATUR and NIHIL OBSTAT? I have noticed that sometimes certain protestant groups will find two apparantly contrary statements with both of the before mentioned words or so bezarrie statement that looks rather self condemning in someway and would say “and it has an IP and NO.”


Gosh that’s an excellent question. It’s also very complex, and hence difficult to answer.

Usually I would not recommend Wiki, but the following article would appear from a casual reading to be Nihil Obstat for catechesis on Imprimaturs (but I have no authority to grant one, thankfully):

I think bottom line, no individual censor is infallible, except the Holy Father were he to make such a declaration ex cathedra on a particular matter, whether de fide (faith) or de moribus (morals). They are not instruments of the ordinary magisterium The authority of the Imprimatur is derived from the authority of the censor’s role. They can err. Please would someone correct me if I’m wrong.

For starters, the burden of proof should always be on the plaintiff. They must produce evidence supporting their claim that they’ve found contradictory statements in two books granted the declaration Imprimatur (let it be printed). If the statements pertain to faith and morals, one must deternine the degree of magisterial significance of the doctrine in question. My guess is they’d never get that far. But they could, in theory. And doubtless some censors have made mistakes. That does not invalidate either the doctrine in question nor the practice of scrutiny and appropriate censorship of Catholic documents.

One must always be aware that doctrines develop. On close inspection, most claimed contradictory propositions are actually reconcilable by examining them diachronically, that is, throughout the process of theological, historical development. OR they might just be contraries, in which case both claims could be true in some cases.


From the Catholic Word Book:

CENSORSHIP OF BOOKS An exercise of vigilance
by the Church for safeguarding
authentic religious teaching. Pertinent legislation
in a decree issued by the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
April 9, 1975, is embodied in the Code of
Canon Law (Book III,Title IV).The legislation
deals with requirements for pre-publication
review and clearance of various
types of writings on religious subjects.
Permission to publish works of a religious
character, together with the apparatus of
reviewing them beforehand, falls under
the authority of the bishop of the place
where the writer lives or where the works
are published. Clearance for publication is
usually indicated by the terms Nihil
obstat (“Nothing stands in the way”)
issued by the censor and Imprimatur
(“Let it be printed”) authorized by the
bishop.The clearing of works for publication
does not necessarily imply approval
of an author’s viewpoint or his manner of
handling a subject.


closed #4

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