What People Are Asking

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Tradition In Action Policy on
Ecclesiastical Permission
to Write and Publish Books

1. Questions: Why haven’t the authors promoted by TIA asked permission of the ecclesiastical authority for their works? Likewise, why hasn’t TIA asked for any imprimatur to publish its books and pamphlets?

Answer to both questions: To respond these questions it is necessary to distinguish some points:

1. Tradition in Action is an American civic organization of public interest – a non profit corporation. It is subject only to the Federal civil laws and Californian state laws, where it is established. None of these laws require this type of association to ask permission of religious authorities in order to publish works. The organization is permitted to publish and disseminate any work allowed by American civil law.

2. If permission is required by religious authorities to publish books or other written material on religious topics, this is a question that does not pertain to the organization, but to its members as individuals.

3. Regarding the new orientation given by the Catholic Popes and Hierarchy since Vatican Council II (1962-65), the members of TIA are in disaccord with the progressivist positions taken by the Catholic Hierarchy that conflict with the prior Magisterium. They made their position clear in a public Declaration of Resistance to such novel orientation (April 2000) [click here for more information]. In that statement they have affirmed they will obey the Catholic authority in everything that follows the traditional teaching of the Church, but will resist the authority, as they have the right to do, in the points in which it follows the progressivist direction. Their legitimate right to take a stance of resistance has never been denied by authorities of the Catholic Church.

It would be inconsistent for members of TIA to ask permission of the religious authority to print material of a nature that opposes the progressivist orientation, because the latter would obviously deny such approval to favor its own contentious agenda.

4. Regarding the TIA materials that are not controversial, the following considerations apply.

After 1966 when Pope Paul VI abolished the Index of Forbidden Books, the rules pertaining to Catholic publication of new books changed radically. Now it is permitted for lay persons to publish almost everything without the permission of the Bishops. Parts of the canons from the prior Code of Canon Law of 1917 are still present in the New Code of 1983, but the general tendency is to restrict their application only to a few cases. Therefore, there are contradictory canons in the New Code – some demanding that Catholic authors and publishing houses submit their works to the scrutiny of the ecclesiastical authority, and some allowing the lay faithful to publish almost everything without such permission.

Tradition in Action follows the interpretation of the New Code given by the Canon Law Society of America (CLSA), supposedly the most authoritative voice on this subject matter in the United States. Regarding the rules on the topic (Canons 822-832), here is the interpretation of the CLSA in its book New Commentary on the Canon of Canon Law (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2000):
“The prohibition and the Index were finally abandoned in 1966, just after the Second Vatican Council II. In 1975 the rules on the pre-publication censorship of books were radically revised, and these canons [822-832] reflect that revision. After an initial canon on the promotion and use of all media in pursuit of the Church’s mission, most of the canons are concerned with the prior censorship of a very narrow range of official or semi-official publications, i.e., biblical and liturgical texts, prayer books, catechisms, religious text-books, and literature distributed in churches. The imprimatur is now limited in practice to these categories of books” (p. 977).
The members of TIA are aware of the canons that regulate written Catholic publications. Until now, they have not asked permission of the religious authority because none of their non-controversial publications were included in the mentioned categories. If in the future they should publish some book or pamphlet on one of these topics, certainly they will ask the due permission of the ordinary of Los Angeles.

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