Who reads all the Nihil Obstats & Imprimaturs?


#1

Surely each diocesan bishop is a pretty busy man. There must be a lot of material, internet articles, journal articles, books on spirituality, books on apologetics, Bible commentaries, elementary school textbooks, university level textbooks, etc. that come to the bishops to approve with the Imprimatur.

So, first of all, who reads them? Not the bishop himself, surely? Second, who checks that they are consistent with the vast library of Church teaching, which is differently interpreted by different people? And finally, does the Imprimatur need to come from the bishop of the place where the author lives? I’d imagine if you sent a controversial (or even by some people’s standards, heretical) article to a dozen liberal bishops you’d get at least one Imprimatur back.

I’m just interested in what these statements mean in practice.


#2

I don’t know, I always assumed it was whoever gave the Imprimatur, but thinking about it and having met a Canon Lawyer in Fr. George Woodall, I wouldn’t mind betting it was someone like that. Fr. George knows EVERYTHING!!! :stuck_out_tongue:

It always amazes me that these people are just Parish Priests often as well. Canon Lawyer or Papal Hermenuetics expert is just their secondary job if you know what I mean!


#3

The diocesan Censor Librorum (CL) grants the Nihil Obstat, which indicates that, to the best of his knowledge, this book is free from doctrinal or moral error.

Based on this, the bishop then grants the Imprimatur which means, simply, “Let it be printed”. The bishop does not necessarily read every book himself. He has to rely on his CL to do the grunt work. In many cases, a diocese will have more than one CL (especially if there is a Catholic University or Catholic Publishing House in the diocese which producese a lot of materials). The CL can be a priest or a lay theologian. In any case, they are typically highly educated (with a doctorate). There may be specific qualifications a CL must have, I’m not sure.

The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur can either be granted by the CL and bishop of the diocese where the author resides, or by the CL and bishop of the diocese where the book was published. For example, a book written by Scott Hahn and published by Ignatius Press can have these stamps of approval granted by either the CL and Bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville (where Hahn lives) or by the CL and Archbishop (or even an auxillary bishop) of the Archdiocese of San Francisco (where Ignatius Press is located).


"safe" Catholic books
#4

Some Bishops do read some material themselves, most assign it to someone they trust. I look for it, but also look to see who it was that issued it. Those two things tell me if it is realiable material, but then I also read it myself carefully at first. Most Catholics can get a sense when something dosen’t sound right.


#5

What about the books that carry Imprimatur only. Does that mean the diocesan Censor Librorum has not read the book and that Bishop on his own for some reason has granted Imprimatur, presumably having read it?


#6

You know, I’m not sure. That’s a good question. Offhand, I can’t think of any specific examples of a book with the imprimatur only. Do you have any examples you can share? My guess is that it might happen in the case of books or articles that are not doctrinal in nature (thus not requiring that the work in question be analyzed on the basis of its doctrinal or moral content). This is only a guess, though.


#7

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