Follow by Email

Friday, July 17, 2009

What's a Nihil Obstat?

As a Catholic, I was aware of the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur but unsure of their application for my books. Early on I had received counsel that since the books would be used by parents and teens, and not in classroom settings, I probably didn't need to submit the books to the censorship process within the Church regarding this certificate. However, I regretted not taking this extra step early on after trying to promote the book within diocesan and parish circles. People did want to know whether it passed the censorship process with regard to faith and morals.

So I decided to submit the books - after publication - to the censorship process and take my lumps. I wanted to know if the books contained any substantive errors with regard to faith and morals - a slip of one word here or there can impact this scrutiny. The Great News - which I am greatly relieved about - is that Daughters Forever, Sons Forever has received the Nihil Obstat certifcation! It's a relief knowing that I will not have to retract any paragraphs or sentences in this program.

I believe and understand that the Catholic Church has been given the authority by Jesus in matters of faith and morals. It is important that the Church scrutinize works which discuss faith and morals in order that they profess the true faith without error. (Catholic Catechism 890)

Each diocese in the Catholic Church has one or more censors which carefully review books such as mine - without charge - and give them the certificate if nothing therein is found to be contrary to the Faith (relevant Canon Law: "Title IV: The Means of Social Communication," ¶ 822-832)

The procedure should work like this: write a book, submit the manuscript (pre-publication) to the Diocesan Censor. A phone call to the Chancery office will help you determine who this person is. When the Censor gives his stamp of approval for the works , he notifies the Diocese who then notifies the author. If there are objections to parts or paragraphs, the author will have to change the work, resubmit the refreshed manuscript, and the review begins all over again.

After receiving the Nihil Obstat, the book is also sent to the Bishop for review. When a Bishop finds nothing objectionable in a work, he awards the "Imprimatur" which means, "let it be printed." When the book is written by a person who is a member of a religious order, the manuscript is first sent to his religious superior before going to the Diocesan Censor. The religious superior will give the book the stamp of Imprimi Potest; this means that the book can be printed. The work is then passed onto the Diocesan Censor.

The "Nihil Obstat" and "Imprimatur" are official declarations that a book is free of doctrinal or moral error. This in no way implies, that the Diocesan Censor or the Bishop agrees with the content, opinions or statements expressed in the book. It does not mean they necessarily like the book or that the book is without error regarding secular information. It certainly doesn't mean that the book is infallible! Rather, Nihil Obstat means that the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church are not undermined, attacked or taught with error.

I am happy that Daughters Forever, Sons Forever has been given this certificate - now I can promote it with even more assurance. For those thinking about writing a book that will be promoted within the Church, take the time to have it reviewed by a Censor before getting it published.

No comments:

Post a Comment