What do the USCCB's movie ratings mean?

If a movie is rated as “Morally Objectionable” by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) does this mean that an American Catholic cannot in good conscience watch and/or own a copy of this movie? What about the other categories, such as A-III and A-IV?

Like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Office for Film and Broadcasting gives ratings to films. In addition, the USCCB Film Office also gives film reviews. The ratings and reviews are advisory only, not binding in conscience on Catholics, and are intended to help Christians decide whether a particular movie is worth their time and money. However, although the bishops do not vote on film reviews, the Office is considered to be part of the teaching and social justice action of the USCCB as a whole, and is therefore a valuable American Catholic resource.

The USCCB’s Film Office ratings are as follows:

[list]A-I – general patronage;[/list]
[list]A-II – adults and adolescents;[/list]
[list]A-III – adults; [/list]
[list]L – limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. L replaces the previous classification, A-IV. [/list]
[list]A-IV – adults, with reservations (an A-IV classification designates problematic films that, while not morally offensive in themselves, require caution and some analysis and explanation as a safeguard against wrong interpretations and false conclusions);[/list]
[list]O – morally offensive (source).[/list]

A movie that is rated A-III is a movie that the USCCB’s Film Office advises is suitable only for adults. An A-IV classification used to designate that the movie was only suitable for limited adult audiences; L has now replaced the A-IV classification. A rating of O designates those films that are considered by the USCCB Film Office to be morally offensive.

While the USCCB’s Film Office reviews are not binding in conscience for American Catholics and do not thereby prevent Catholics from watching movies rated O for morally offensive, a Catholic who is aware of the rating should take it into careful consideration when making his decision about whether or not to see the film. As you can see from the explanation of the ratings the Film Office uses, an O rating is not given lightly and should therefore be respected.

**Recommended reading:

Ratings: The USCCB**

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