Friday, October 28, 2005

In Search of the Lost Imprimatur

Before a publication used for teaching catechetics or theology is released, it is submitted to a local Bishop, his Vicar General, or a Religious superior. He in turn delegates its review to a "Censor Deputatus." After finding it free of moral or doctrinal error (personal opinions within the work notwithstanding), the examiner declares "Nihil Obstat," which is Latin for "Nothing impedes it." The overseeing prelate then declares "Imprimatur," which means, "Let it be printed." Both declarations are inscribed near the front of the book, with the names and dates for the parties in question. Occasionally, Rome must direct a prelate to remove his Imprimatur from a particular work, as was the case with the Dutch Catechism-based Christ Among Us about twenty years ago. But Rome does not take this action herself, and the directive is rarely applied.

The link to the right of this page marked "St Blog's Parish" is a comprehensive listing of weblogs which identify themselves as Catholic. That being the case, one cannot necessarily assume that all of them are firm in their stated identity. That is to say, some are more orthodox than others. They run the gambit from "Bad Catholic," an lady who is admittedly troubled by her Faith, to a group known as "The League of Evil Traditionalists," which includes weblogs known for their Lefebvrist sympathies.

Amidst the lot of them, and in the face of nearly three-and-a-half years of recorded work, three things are consistent with this writer:

1) He is a practicing Catholic, and he'll keep on practicing till he gets it right, which could take a lifetime,

2) He doesn't always get it right, and

3) He knows damn well he doesn't always get it right.

Most important is that anyone reading this weblog, can be assured of what my brother likes to call "the straight skinny" when it comes to what a Catholic is pledged to believe. They would know the difference between an objective teaching, and the author's personal experience or "spin" thereof. This weblog will also occasionally pay tribute to someone who is not right all the time. Such tribute is not for their errors, but for those occasions when they "get it."

Even our Mother Church has done no less. The body of work that comprises any classical study of patristics (as well as The Office of Readings, I believe), includes the writings of Hippolytus of Rome (an antipope of the third century, who later reconciled and won the crown of martyrdom), Origen (a writer of the late second and early third century, some of whose works were considered suspect, or condemned outright), and Tertullian (a contemporary of Origen who eventually broke communion with Rome for the Montanist sect). She has even raised to the altar (that is, canonized) such mortals as Vincent Ferrer (who announced at the advent of the fifteenth century that he was chosen by The Almighty to herald the end of the world) and Frances of Rome (a contemporary of Vincent, and who was reported to have suffered from "a vivid imagination"). The calendar of saints also includes supporters of opposing contenders to the papal throne during the Great Schism. Vincent Ferrer, for example, supported the antipope Benedict XIII.

Obviously the conspiracy is much greater than we imagined. Hmmm...

The point of this essay is to address a few e-mails that have come to me since the writing of yesterday's piece "Ebony and Ivory Revisited." My stated reservations about the two gentlemen did not prevent me from noting whatever they had done that warranted merit. But it was enough for my correspondents to question my Catholicity. I have also been informed that a link to this weblog was dropped from a prominent Catholic news site. Perhaps the list is frequently updated to drop some and include others, or perhaps (as I have reason to believe my waywardness was brought to the editor's attention) I have been deemed unworthy. It is troublesome to speculate on the motives of others in this way. That is why the site in question remains on the short list of MWBH known as "The Usual Suspects," for the same reasons it has been there until now.

I can go a couple of weeks without writing about anything strictly "religious." Then there are weeks when it's damn near all I write about. Either way, I stand by my writings. My writings stand by Peter.

Anybody got a problem with that?

1 comment:

MrsDarwin said...

No problems here! Keep on writing and I'll keep reading.