Nihil obstat

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An imprimi potest, a nihil obstat and an imprimatur (by Richard Cushing) on a book published by Random House in 1953. The book in question is the English translation by Louis J. Gallagher, S.J. of De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas by Matteo Ricci, S.J. and Nicolas Trigault, S.J.

Nihil obstat (Latin for "nothing hinders" or "nothing stands in the way")[1] is a declaration of no objection that warrants censoring of a book, e.g., Roman Catholic published books, to an initiative, or an appointment.


The phrase nihil obstat is used by a cleric, of the Roman Catholic Church, known as a Censor Librorum, to indicate that a book contains nothing contrary to Roman Catholic doctrines, faith, or morals.[1] Canon law requires this approval for the publication of books by faithful Catholics if they "touch upon matters of faith and morals", and requires that pastors enforce this rule.[2] The Censor librorum (Latin for "censor of books") is delegated by a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. The Censor Librorum reviews the text in question. If an author is a member of a religious institute (such as a monastery), and if the book concerns religion or morals, then canon law requires obtaining the imprimi potest ("it can be printed") of the major superior before publication.[3] The bishop of the author's diocese or of the place of publication (such as a publishing company) gives the final approval by the declaration known as the imprimatur ("let it be printed").[4]


A nihil obstat also refers the document declaring that someone is free to marry due to lack of form in the previous marriage. It can also refer to a document of dispensation from certain impediments to marriage in the Catholic Church.

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  1. ^ a b The America Heritage Dictionary, archived from the original on 2007-03-09, retrieved 2009-07-30
  2. ^ Canon 823, section 1
  3. ^ "Code of Canon Law, canon 832". 2007-05-04. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-01-22.
  4. ^ "Code of Canon Law, canon 824". 2007-05-04. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-01-22.

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