American Bishops: State and Church Have Right to Censor the Media for Public Good

American Bishops: State and Church Have Right to Censor the Media for Public Good


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After their annual meeting, American Catholic bishops announce that the state and the church have the right and the authority to censor media communications (books, newspapers, television, radio, film, etc.) for the sake of the public good.

The bishops' statement is entitles "Censorship" and says:

"Morally, the church can and does exercise what is called censorship. This right is hers from her office as teacher of morals and guardian of divine truth. Her decisions bind her people but her sanctions upon them are only spiritual and moral. She does, nevertheless, express her judgments to all men of good will, soliciting their reasoned understanding and their freely given acceptance and support. ...

Because freedom of the press is a basic right to be respected and safeguarded, it must be understood and defended not as license, but as true rational freedom. ...

Man is true to himself as a free being when he acts in accord with the laws of right reason. ... Obscenity cannot be permitted as a proper exercise of a basic human freedom. Civil enactments as well as the moral law both indicate that the exercise of the freedom cannot be unrestrained. ...

Our juridical system has been dedicated from the beginning to the principle of minimal restraint. [Sanctions are invoked] only insofar as is necessary to safeguard public morals."
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