Laws About Catholic Blogs or Websites?

What laws regulate articles of a religious nature posted by Catholics? Do they need a bishops approval?

The following canons address social communication and publication of writings on faith and morals:

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2Q.HTM

Can someone please explain the meaning of these rues for those who may not have training in canon law?

Can. 823 §1. In order to preserve the integrity of the truths of faith and morals, the pastors of the Church have the duty and right to be watchful so that no harm is done to the faith or morals of the Christian faithful through writings or the use of instruments of social communication. They also have the duty and right to demand that writings to be published by the Christian faithful which touch upon faith or morals be submitted to their judgment and have the duty and right to condemn writings which harm correct faith or good morals.

§2. Bishops, individually or gathered in particular councils or conferences of bishops, have the duty and right mentioned in §1 with regard to the Christian faithful entrusted to their care; the supreme authority of the Church, however, has this duty and right with regard to the entire people of God.

Does a Catholic layman have the complementary duty to submit writings which touch upon faith or morals to the judgment of the bishop?

Can. 824 §1. Unless it is established otherwise, the local ordinary whose permission or approval to publish books must be sought according to the canons of this title is the proper local ordinary of the author or the ordinary of the place where the books are published.

§2. Those things established regarding books in the canons of this title must be applied to any writings whatsoever which are destined for public distribution, unless it is otherwise evident.

Is this saying that all writings which are “destined for public distribution” must have the explicit approval of the ordinary? Under what circumstances is it “otherwise evident” (§2)? When is it “established otherwise” (§1)?

No. Very little in Canon Law applies to laypeople. 823 §1 applies to pastors, and 823 §2 applies to Bishops. The only time a layperson might be involved is if a pastor finds that someone has done something imprudent, in which case §1 says he should put the smackdown on that guy.

[quote]Can. 824 §1. Unless it is established otherwise, the local ordinary whose permission or approval to publish books must be sought according to the canons of this title is the proper local ordinary of the author or the ordinary of the place where the books are published.

§2. Those things established regarding books in the canons of this title must be applied to any writings whatsoever which are destined for public distribution, unless it is otherwise evident.

Is this saying that all writings which are “destined for public distribution” must have the explicit approval of the ordinary? Under what circumstances is it “otherwise evident” (§2)? When is it “established otherwise” (§1)?
[/quote]

It’s whatever and whenever the Bishop decides it is.

Books are a different thing, though the nature of publishing (and the definition of “book”) is rapidly changing. A Catholic writing a book on Catholic topics intended for the general public is expected to obtain an imprimatur (permission to publish) from his Ordinary. Most Bishops will require a Nihil obstat (no objection) from an accredited Catholic theologian, but this would be his own rule and is not required under Canon Law. This is still the common practice among hardcopy books (your Bible has an imprimatur). All Catholic Answers books have an imprimatur. But, with the definition of “book” in flux, I think the Church will need to reassess this rule someday.

For what it is worth. Catholic Answers is an approved apostolate, meaning, it operates under the authority of their local bishop.

diocese-sdiego.org/portals/0/content/Organization_Movements_and_Associations.pdf

Any group that uses the name “Catholic” needs permission from the local bishop.

It should also be noted that the current Code of Canon Law was promulgated in 1983. The basic network PROTOCOL of the internet (TCP/IP - Terminal Control Protocol / Internet Protocol) was not developed until 1986. Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who, more than anyone else, can be considered the “inventor” of the internet) didn’t publish the specification for the HTML language until November of 1989. FWIW, you are looking at a webpage defined in HTML (though the HTML was generated on-the-fly by a php program). All webpages are HTML. And there was no such thing as HTML until almost 1990.

So technology can often outpace Canon Law, which moves about at a sluggish pace. Fortunately, Canon Law is not like civil law, with its rigid, clear-cut definitions. The ultimate arbitrator of Canon Law for any Diocese is the Ordinary (Bishop) of that Diocese, who is free interpret it in the manner he sees fit. Only the Pope can challenge his interpretation.

Canon Law is kinda like the Pirate’s Code - they’re really just guidelines. If a Canon becomes questionable or obsolete in the face of technological advances, the Bishop is free to interpret the Canon with regard to modern circumstances. He does not need anyone’s permission to do so.

Point of clarification for anyone who does not know: Canon Law is not Church Doctrine. It might be founded in Doctrine, but Canon Law itself entirely consists of man-made rules, which can be changed (or even abolished) at any time, whereas Doctrine can never change. Most Canon Law is stuff like how many candles should be on an altar, and how many times per day a priest may say Mass, and where the Baptism font ought to be located in a newly constructed church, and what color vestments should be worn in certain liturgical seasons. Most laypeople have never read a single Canon, and the Church does not encourage them to do so, because it is not really written for laypeople.

From the CCL

Can. 11 Merely ecclesiastical laws bind those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, possess the efficient use of reason, and, unless the law expressly provides otherwise, have completed seven years of age.
Can. 12 §1. Universal laws bind everywhere all those for whom they were issued.

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