26 April 2014

Is an act of Canonisation Infallible? Is it de fide?

I reprint, below, a post originally published on 31 January this year, together with its thread. Three new points.
(1) I am not impressed by such discussion as I have seen on the technicalities of this subject during the three months since 31 January. My current working hypothesis is as it was on that day: that the opinion of Benedict XIV still applies and canonisations are not certainly de fide in any sense that carries the implication that a dissident must be deemed a heretic or a schismatic.
(2) Discussions, both on the 'left' and on the 'right', have seemed to concern simply the alleged political aspects of the imminent canonisations. I think this is the wrong place to start.
(3) The rule that canonisations should not get under way until a number of years have passed seems to me important, and I think it unfortunate that this was not adhered to in the case of Papa Wojtyla. It also seems to me unfortunate that the lack of a second miracle for Papa Roncalli was dispensed. The modern, and quite excessive, personality cult of Roman Pontiffs inevitably results in the cry santo subito after they are dead. Arguably, in the case of popes, the 'cooling off' period after their deaths ought to be very much distinctly longer than in the case of other people, and any technical obstacles ought to be the more irremovable. This would also make possible a relaxed consideration, undertaken with a long view, of doctrinal questions. Because, for the media and for ordinary priests and people, canonisation of a pope can easily be misunderstood as implying the infallibility of everything which he did or said. [Beatification, allowing a limited and suitable local cult within Rome itself, may be a different matter. But there is a problem here too, in as far as Beatification is popularly seen as merely a preliminary to Canonisation. It need not be that.]

It distresses me to write point (3), because Benedict XVI (cui concedat Omnipotens multos annos!) must surely count as one of the most saintly pontiffs of the last two centuries; probably the most worthy to be canonised of the lot of them. But a stop needs to be put to the passion and pressures for canonising popes.

Original text:
I have some queries which are genuinely queries. My mind really is not made up regarding the Infallibility of an act whereby the Roman Pontiff 'canonises'; and the probably but certainly related question of whether a de fide assent is required. I shall be entirely capricious in binning comments which just rant, especially if they are preoccupied with the canonisations due next April. I assume that everybody with an interest in this subject knows exactly what the Vatican I text of Pastor aeternus said and did not say about Papal infallibility. It is useful to have read parts of Benedict XIV's De Beatificatione et Canonizatione, and Liber1 Caput LXV really is required reading; it can be found by googling Benedicti papae XIV Doctrina de Servorum Dei beatificatione et ..., and then scrolling down to pages 55-56 (42-43 in the printed book which Google copied). It was written before the election of the erudite and admirable Prospero Lambertini to the See of Rome.

Theologians of distinction can be listed who have taught that Canonisation is an infallible act of the Papal Magisterium. But, with regard to those who wrote before 1870, is there not a prior question that has to be asked? The Church had then not defined (i.e. put limits, 'fines', to) the dogma of Papal Infallibility. The terms of Pastor aeternus are (to the chagrin of Manning and the palpable relief of Newman) extremely limited. Therefore, can we be sure that those earlier theologians really were categorising canonisation as infallible in the sense of the word infallible as defined with all the limitations of the 1870 decrees? Or, because of the limits imposed by that definition, might they have used a different term had they needed to develop their arguments within the confines of what Pastor aeternus lays down? Is this why Benedict XIV accepts the possibility of arguing that what a Roman Pontiff decrees may be infallible, but still not be de fide? After 1870, I surmise, that possibility may not be open to us: because the scope and function of the term infallibilis have changed to imply that a proposition is of faith. Am I right?

In assessing the arguments of such pre-1870 writers, should we pay attention to the general extent which they assert when talking about the authority of the Roman Pontiff? That is: if a writer is generous in his estimate of the fields to which papal infallibility extends, should we be less willing to assume that he is writing in terms of something like the limited 1870 definition, than we would be when considering a writer who is very much more sparing and circumspect in associating infallibility with papal interventions?

 As a consequence of this, when we turn to theologians who wrote later than 1870, and who argued that papal canonisations are infallible, should we not subtract from the arguments with which they sustain their conclusions the mere citation, qua authorities, and without further discussion, of those earlier theologians? In other words, should not the event of 1870 have the effect of pruning back some previous theologically luxuriant growths?

And there is another question raised by the Definition and Practice of Papal infallibility which the pontificate of B Pius IX bequeathed us. It implies an assumption that the Roman Pontiff is acting with the morally unanimous, collegial, assent of the whole ecclesia docens. I know that, for SSPXers, Collegiality is a dirty word; but B Pius IX and Pius XII wrote to the bishops of the entire world seeking their counsel before defining the two Marian Dogmas ('Is it definable? Is it opportune to define it?') and ... well ... I'm just an ordinary Catholic ... the praxis of those two pontiffs is good enough for me! But do Popes seek the counsel of all their Venerable Brethren before canonising?

Papal infallibilty is nothing but one modality within the infallibility of the Church. So is it rational to assign infallibility to some canonisations - those personally enacted by the Pope - and not to those enacted by a different authority (the oft-quoted Quodlibet IX:16 of S Thomas is not necessarily limited to papal canonisations)? We know that popes cannot delegate their infallibility. There are the saints on the calendars of sui iuris churches: such as that of the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch (after all, it is arguable that, as a successor of S Peter, this Patriarch is, after the Bishop of Rome himself, the senior prelate of the Catholic Church) which include some who lived outside visible unity with the See of Rome in recent centuries and were canonised by Byzantine synods ... and whose names are certainly not on any Roman 'list'. I believe the Ukrainian Church includes Saints canonised up to the time of the Synod of Brest. And the 'two lungs' rhetoric of JP2 implies that, although the Latin Church is de facto very much larger than the Oriental Churches in Full Communion with Rome, theologically these latter are not just almost-irrelevant, tolerated, anomalies. What would a rounded and complete understanding of Canonisation within the Catholic Church have to say about Melkite and Ukrainian praxis? And what would be the bearing of that upon the question of the Infallibility of Canonisation?

Papal infallibilty resides in the papal munus docendi, the ministry of doctrinally binding the whole Church, not part of it: so is there a distinction between those Saints who are by papal authority to have a compulsory cultus in every local Church, and those whose commemoration is confined to some localties; or is optional in the Universal Church? If the sui iuris Churches not of Latin Rite do not include a Saint on their Calendars, and the Roman Pontiff tolerates this, does this mean that he is not imposing that cult on the Universal Church and thus is not using his Universal munus docendi? The actual formula of canonisation is in fact merely an order that X be placed on the List* of Saints of the 'ecclesia universalis'. What exactly ... physically ... is this 'list'? Benedict XIV explicitly says that "writing a name down in the Martyrology does not yet bring about formal or equipollent canonisation" (descriptio in martyrologio nondum importat canonizationem formalem, aut aequipollentem). But even if it did, would this mean that the Martyrologium Romanum, theologically and juridically, applies to sui iuris Churches not of the Roman Rite? If it doesn't, does this mean that 'ecclesia universalis', in the context of papal canonisation, really means 'ecclesia Latina universalis' (because, after all, the Latin Church is pretty world-wide)? What about the observation of Benedict XIV that an act of 'canonisation' which lacks complete preceptive universality is not in the strict sense canonisation? Are there other loose ends arising from the fact that Roman documents seem quite often to sound as though they are majestically addressing the whole Church, but, when you get down to it, are really pretty obviously addressing the Latin Church (Sacrosanctum Concilium is an example of that)?

Finally: S Thomas held that canonisation was medium inter res fidei, et particulares; and Benedict XIV concludes his discussion of this matter by saying that plures magni nominis auctores deny that an act of canonisation is de fide; gives a fair wind to their arguments; then summarises the arguments of those, inferioris notae doctores, who affirm that it is de fide; concludes by saying Utraque opinio in sua probabilitate relinquenda videtur, donec Sedes Apostolica de hac re judicium proferat. Benedict XIV went on to give his own private opinion as favouring the positive thesis (canonisations are of faith), but added "But before a judgement of the Apostolic See, it does not seem that the mark of heresy should be branded onto the contrary opinion."

And in 1998, the motu proprio Ad tuendam fidem of B John Paul II was accompanied by a Commentary written by the CDF and signed by its Cardinal Prefect. Paragraph 6 of this, combined with paragraphs 8 and 11, appears to lead to the conclusion that canonisations are to be given the same "full and irrevocable assent" as that required by the Creeds and the doctrinal definitions of Ecumenical Councils and of Roman Pontiffs speaking ex cathedra. Have I understood this correctly? Would this be "a judgement of the Apostolic See" as described by Benedict XIV? What is the Magisterial status of a dicasterial 'Commentary'?

To be frank with you, I am, so far, more impressed by writers who call the public rejection of a papal act of canonisation 'temerarious', than I am by those who invoke the I-word. The I-word surely means, from 1870 onwards, that, as a matter of divine Faith, one must accept something in ones heart. Use of temerarious (Suarez; Benedict XIV) means (I take it) that a public rejection is profoundly rash and unsafe and that, accordingly, one should refrain from disturbing the peace of the believing community by publicly attacking an authoritative inclusion of a person on the List* of Saints; and, furthermore, that one should preserve an interior awareness of ones own fallibility (after all, someone has to decide whether X goes into ... or does not go into ... the canon, and the decision is certainly way above my pay grade).

And I have a prejudice against potentially causing people problems of conscience by telling them that something is of divine Faith when it might not be. And it potentially damages the august authority of the Sovereign Pontiff to be rash in spraying the I-word too liberally around ... a point which poor Manning never grasped.
*List: canon in Greek; catalogus in Latin (if you see what I mean!)


GOR said...

Father, you do have a knack of teasing out complicated issues with historical background! I suspect – and this may come under your admonition – that the canonization issue has surfaced in part due to Pope Francis’ motu proprio action regarding his predecessors.

Given that in earlier times the process of ‘canonization’ was less rigorous than recently and had more of a sensus fidelium - though it was the local fideles in many cases, with subsequent magisterial approval (the ‘List’) – perhaps this enters into the mix?

As Francis is considered a ‘popular’ Pope, are his recent actions a magisterial stamp on the popular “Santo subito!” acclamations of 2005...? The same could be said for Blessed John XXIII. Though 1963 lacked the current ubiquity of the media, there was acclaim – at least in Italy – but that acclaim has since been reinforced by the canonical process…and time.

Frankly, I was not enthused by Pope John Paul II’s propensity for ‘making Saints and Blesseds’. It was saintly overload and difficult to absorb. I like my saints to be ‘time-honored’… Of course St. Paul used the term liberally (”omnibus sanctis qui sunt Ephesi”, for example), and he was talking to the living!

So while I accept the infallibility of canonization, it is not of the order of the Articles of the Creed. Perhaps theologice certa…?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Interesting - if we are take canonisation to be infallible, surely we must mean 'infallible' in a different sense than a definition of doctrinal infallibility.
There can be no sense of being held 'always and everywhere' in regard to a saint living in say the 20th century. Is there a difference between an 'infallible' statement when a person (or dare one suggest a particular feast, could we iclude the Assumption and Immaculate Conception, or even Marian Apparitions) is raised to altar of the Church and an infallible definition of a doctrine, such as the openness to life in marriage or the Church's lack of authority to ordain women?
Is there a difference between 'negative' infallible statements that define the 'limits' of faith, beyond which one is outside the Church, and those which are 'positive' which add to the depth of faith.?

Dr. Adam DeVille said...

A further, and related, question to explore might be: what to make of saints canonized by apostolic (=Orthodox) churches in both first and second millennium? Does the Catholic Church simply and automatically accept them as bona fide saints? (De facto it seems yes...but de iure?) What, to sharpen the point, about Catholics who left the Church, became Orthodox, and then were canonized by their Orthodox church (e.g., Alexis Toth, whom I discuss here: http://easternchristianbooks.blogspot.com/2014/01/turning-to-tradition.html)? Would the Catholic Church recognize and accept them? This issue becomes acute in, e.g., the Chalcedonian split, where both sides have canonized figures whom the other side regards as heretics. In any future union, are such figures merely quietly left to one side? Or how else should one proceed?

Chris Jones said...

Forgive me, Father, for commenting as a non-Catholic on what seems to be a very "intra-Catholic" question.

As I understand the theory of Papal infallibility, the infallibility of the Pope strongly depends on the infallibility of the Church, because an infallible definition on the part of the Pope is a particular exercise, in particular (and very closely-defined) circumstances, of the infallibility of the Church. Therefore the question of whether a Papal canonization is to be regarded as infallible (and if so under what circumstances) must be preceded by the question whether any canonization by the Church is to be regarded as infallible (and if so under what circumstances).

The second aspect of the theory of Papal infallibility that is relevant is that (according to Pastor Aeternus) infallibility applies to matters of faith and morals, not to matters of fact. It seems to me that it is a matter of faith that the redeemed enjoy beatitude in heaven; but it is a matter of fact whether any particular individual is in that number.

Finally, the act of canonization is not only a declaration that a given individual is among the redeemed. There are (we certainly hope) many more among the redeemed than those who have been canonized. And the act of canonization is not only a declaration that veneration of that individual is permissible. Canonization is the declaration that the individual is to be publicly venerated by the Church in her liturgy. Indeed, the fact that a person is among the redeemed, and that he or she is properly to be venerated (at least privately) is almost to be assumed before the question of canonization is to be considered. All that is left (in my opinion) is the prudential judgement as to whether public veneration is fitting, for the good of the faithful.

To my way of thinking, a prudential judgment, about whether something is liturgically and catechetically fitting, based on a point of fact that does not touch matters of faith and morals, is hardly something to which infallibility (whether ecclesial or Papal) can be applied.

Titus said...

Preliminarily, Fr. Blake is obviously correct that the prerequisites generally observed for dogmatic statements obviously can't be intelligibly applied to canonizations. But I don't know that this is a per se impediment to the Holy Spirit protecting the Church from pronouncing an error.

More on the merits, it seems that Fr. Hunwicke's question goes in different directions, corresponding to the various elements of the cultus of a saint. About which of these are we really concerned?

1. So, for instance, at its most basic level, a decree of canonization is a statement that St. X. is currently in heaven. That's a very narrow statement.

2. There is also the statement that St. X exhibited "heroic virtue." That's a somewhat more ambitious statement, if only because it's somewhat more ambiguous.

3. There is more or less implicit within the decree, based on the Church's tradition, the understanding that St. X enjoyed a super-abundance of grace and passed from this life without the need for purgation; i.e., he went straight to heaven. This seems to fall somewhere in between Theses 1 and 2 in scope and ambition.

4. There is the further statement that St. X is worth of emulation. That's rather vague. When I am elected pope, I shall be sure to emulate St. Pius X.

If canonizations are infallible, it certainly means that we should # 1, and perhaps it means we should so accept # 2, # 3, and even perhaps # 4. Those are the factual pronouncements, the things one could believe, so to speak.

The other acts attendant to a canonization seem purely administrative: placing St. X on the calendar, for instance. It would seem odd that the administrative act of placing or not placing St. X on the liturgical schedule for one rite or another would determine the scope or nature of the logically prior pronouncement of the canonization itself. After all, the traditions, customs, and laws of the various Rites are not uniform. Maintenance of a universal commemoration is not a prerequisite of canonization. (To relate back, I don't see how one could apply the virtue of faith to the liturgical schedule: I have hope that the feast of St. John Chrysostom is on January 27, though I have not seen it there?)

On the topic of The List, that seems an easily surmountable difficulty. One could view The List as being the Martyrologium Romanum, I suppose, although it seems its liturgical application to non-Latin Rites would be precluded by other law. Alternatively, who needs a physical list? The Roll of Saints [whose sanctity is assured by the extraordinary papal magisterium] could consist of the collected decrees of the Roman Pontiff. Codification is a modern innovation, and not a necessary one.

Finally, why must we fret about the status of decrees made by particular churches or other bodies? The world is full of things that we are free but not required to believe. Beatifications, for instance, or the apparitions of Fatima. As Fr. Hunwicke points out, the scope of the "I-word" is limited: we only know some things for sure, and the mechanisms by which things get onto that list are limited. That the Holy See permits or even encourages other things (including limited cults) is not otherwise viewed as invoking, sub silentio, its powers of infallibility. So we should, should we not, view local canonizations on the part of particular churches the same way we view, say, beatifications: as a worthy permissible, but not mandatory, belief.

Don Camillo SSC said...

I like the suggestion that dissent from a decree of canonisation would be "temerarious". A Papal declaration, after due investigation, must be at least prima facie evidence for its reliability. Who am I to judge, on the basis of my own impressions, that someone is not with the Lord?

I am not Spartacus said...

There are not a few Christian Catholics who think that The Apostolic See has issued but a handful of dogmatic judgments but that was not the opinion of Bishop Gasser in his realtio at Vatican I:

Some will persist and say: there remains, therefore, the duty of the Pontiff - indeed most grave in its kind - of adhering to the means apt for discerning the truth, and, although this matter is not strictly dogmatic, it is, nevertheless, intimately connected with dogma. For we define: the dogmatic judgments of the Roman Pontiff are infallible. Therefore let us also define the form to be used by the Pontiff in such a judgment. It seems to me that this was the mind of some of the most reverend fathers as they spoke from this podium. But, most eminent and reverend fathers, this proposal simply cannot be accepted because we are not dealing with something new here. Already thousands and thousands of dogmatic judgments have gone forth from the Apostolic See; where is the law which prescribed the form to be observed in such judgments?

William Tighe said...

Concerning this:

"A further, and related, question to explore might be: what to make of saints canonized by apostolic (=Orthodox) churches in both first and second millennium? Does the Catholic Church simply and automatically accept them as bona fide saints? (De facto it seems yes...but de iure?) What, to sharpen the point, about Catholics who left the Church, became Orthodox, and then were canonized by their Orthodox church (e.g., Alexis Toth, whom I discuss here: http://easternchristianbooks.blogspot.com/2014/01/turning-to-tradition.html)? Would the Catholic Church recognize and accept them? This issue becomes acute in, e.g., the Chalcedonian split, where both sides have canonized figures whom the other side regards as heretics. In any future union, are such figures merely quietly left to one side? Or how else should one proceed?"

Imagine my surprise in seeing depicted on the cover of my (Ukrainian Catholic) church bulletin for Sunday, 19 January, the figure of "St Markos Eugenikos" (Mark of Ephesus, the most stalwart and influential opponent of the Union between the East and the West proclaimed at the Council of Florence in 1439), and depicted with a scroll containing the beginning of an anti-Latin diatribe hanging from his right hand (alongside the figure of St Makarios the Great). I was at first shocked, then bemused at his appearance on the conver of a bulletin of "St Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church;" and finally came to the conclusion that the depiction was more a matter of the publisher, Eastern Christia Publications, attempting to market its wares to the Orthodox as well as to Catholics - but I don't like it, and no doubt shall allude to it in the future.

Stephen said...

I've known Catholic prelates to venerate St. Alexis Toth at his tomb.

Diane said...

Stephen, you mistook "praying for his immortal soul" for "veneration." ;-)

fr. Thomas said...

"After 1870, I surmise, that possibility may not be open to us: because the scope and function of the term infallibilis have changed to imply that a proposition is of faith. Am I right?"

I don't think this does follow, because the 1870 definition doesn't say that no papal act can be infallible if it doesn't match the criteria there mentioned but only that a papal act is infallible if it does follow those criteria. So a papal act can be infallible even if it is not defining a truth of faith and morals. As I understand it, the common view of theologians has long been that infallibility can also be exercised to defend some truth intimately connected with faith, though not actually revealed, e.g. perhaps St Peter's residence in Rome.

This view, that papal infallibility extends beyond the field of revealed truth and natural law is supported by the CDF's commentary on the 'Professio Fidei'. The 'irrevocable assent' is the other side of the coin from 'infallible'. The CDF notes that these secondary truths that can be infallibly defined may have various different kinds of relation with revealed truths. Perhaps one could say that canonisations must be infallible because if they were mistaken they could actually falsify the revealed truth of the holiness of the Church, as would happen if the Church was venerating as a saint someone who was not even saved.

With regard to whether a saint has to be proposed for liturgical veneration for the whole Church or just part of it for infallibility to be present, my understanding again is that approved authors generally consider that laws promulgated just for Latin Church benefit from the promise of indefectibility made to the whole Church (because the Latin Church is numerically so preponderant), and so cannot command anything intrinsically bad; by analogy one would say that the act of proposing for the veneration of just the Latin Church would be infallible. Of course, the 'approved authors' may have a bias here, as they tend to have been Latins!

Anagnostis said...

Forgive me, Father: I am not a learned person and my smattering of Greek has been acquired "at the end of a rifle butt" - but is it not an anachronism to translate 'kanon' as 'list'? I have been taught that it means 'straight edge' or 'rule' and that only very recently did it begin to be (mis)translated as 'list' (with reference in particular to the Books of Scripture). Thus, a true saint is someone whose life is judged to be in accordance with the "canon" or "straight edge measure" of authentic holiness.

Ttony said...

Titus said: "There is more or less implicit within the decree, based on the Church's tradition, the understanding that St. X enjoyed a super-abundance of grace and passed from this life without the need for purgation; i.e., he went straight to heaven."

Can this be really true? All the saints in heaven have committed at least one sin: only the BVM is Immaculate. There might be an argument "he spent his Purgatory on earth" but I have only heard the statement used in pious eulogies.

One would be temerarious indeed - fighting temeraire - to argue with the Church when She says that John Smith is in Heaven and his heroic virtue was to do God's will in at least one particular aspect of his life: who is able to contradict such a statement?

But equally, why should it bother anybody? If St John Smith's heroic virtue was in persuading milliners not to embroider lace hat liners in the form of mantillas, then the constituency who will choose him for their particular veneration is likely to be small, and keenly interested. I, however, probably won't.

Worrying about the validity of the canonisation of a particular saint seems to be either precious or partisan: neither feels very appropriate. Not being temerarious, leaving it to God and his Vicar, and then choosing to which of the named Company one wishes to form an attachment feels perfectly reasonable.

It doesn't take away from the fact that the Company of Saints is likely to be far larger than the number of those whose names are on any of the Calendars.

Isaac Cooper said...

Dear Fr. Hunwicke,

You referenced the CDF’s 1998 Doctrinal Commentary on the Professio Fidei.
A deeper exploration of this document could suggest a more complete answer to the questions your post raises.

This Doctrinal Commentary addresses the Profession of Faith taken by those assuming ecclesiastical office. This Professio Fidei—promulgated by John Paul II with the 1998 motu proprio Ad tuendam fidem—distinguishes between three levels of doctrine. Each of these three levels of Church teaching requires a different type of assent. The CDF’s doctrinal commentary elaborates on these three levels of assent:

1. The assent of faith—de fide belief—is only required for doctrines that the Church infallibly teaches as divinely revealed. All the teachings of this category are contained within the two fonts of divine revelation, Scripture and Tradition. This highest category of Church teaching includes the articles of the Creed, transubstantiation (as defined at Trent), papal primacy (as defined at Vatican I), the Immaculate Conception (as defined by Pius IX), and the Assumption (as defined by Pius XII). Obstinately denying a truth of this category constitutes the canonical crime of heresy (Code of Canon Law 750-1, Code of Canon for the Eastern Churches Canon 598, 1436).

2. A firm and definitive assent is required for the doctrines definitively proposed by the Church concerning faith and morals, which are referred to as "sententiae definitive tenenda." Like teachings of the first category, teachings of this second category are infallible. However, unlike truths of the first category, the Church does not teach that the truths of this second category are contained within divine revelation. Rather, they are intrinsically connected with divine revelation. Teachings of this second category include the identify of the pope, the ecumenical nature of certain councils, and the canonizations of the saints. Teachings of this category often can't be a part of divine revelation because they pertain to historical events that occurred after the closing of public revelation: Most popes and saints were born after the death of the last apostle. Denying a truth of this second category is not, properly speaking, heresy. Nevertheless, those who deny a teaching of this category are "rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine," and thus are "no longer in full communion with the Catholic Church.”

3. A non-definitive assent is required for non-infallible Church teachings. This deference to non-infallible teaching should generally entail an intellectual assent rather than just a reverent silence. However, the assent due to these non-infallible teachings is not absolute, since they are not protected from error in the same way that teachings in the first and second categories are. As Donum Veritatis notes, if serious study leads to the conclusion that teachings of this third category are mistaken, it is acceptable to withhold one’s assent from them.

Isaac Cooper said...

Fr. Hunwicke your are correct to suggest that, generally speaking, CDF documents—even those approved by the pope—don’t have the greatest weight. However, since the CDF’s Doctrinal Commentary represents the authentic interpretation of Ad tuendam fidem, it is the best aid we have in determining the meaning of the Professio Fidei.

In any case, it is difficult to underestimate the significance of the Professio Fidei itself, which makes the distinction between the three levels of teaching, though without explicitly stating which teachings fall under which category. (This is why the CDF Doctrinal Commentary was necessary.) This Profession of Faith is made by those assuming ecclesiastical office in both the East and the West: It is truly universal in scope. The role it plays in the contemporary Church is analogous to the part played by the Tridentine Creed in the centuries preceding Vatican II. Its import is thus comparable to that of the Tridentine Creed, which, as all agree, enjoyed unquestioned authority.

Anyone who would like to read the text of the Professio Fidei, together with Ad tuendam fidem and the Doctrinal Commentary, can follow this link: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_1998_professio-fidei_en.html

Stephen said...

I always took great comfort in the Church's consistent focus on the Incarnation, to the point where it seems that things apart from a person do not even seem to exist. A bishop, a specific individual, is the center of the community, with both the physical and spiritual responsibilities and honor attached thereto. Councils never just anathematize an idea, but specifically a person or people who publicly believed something wrong or did not believe something right. And more often than not, Councils were much more comfortable thereby to declare where the Church was NOT via the anathema, rather than where it is by a positive affirmation. (He cut himself off, but how big that which he cut himself off of we dare not say, because perhaps we do not know???)

So one side of me (the western side?) says, "Ah, let's create a list of all the ideas and people anathematized, and crossmap that to all these folks anyone wishes to claim to be saint; those with no linkage on the crossmap are free and clear; those who have a linkage must now go into the reconciliation queue for tribunal review." The other side (the eastern?) says, "Eh, that's way too much trouble. Let it alone, and those who are real will be so revealed by having a cult in 150 years."

Titus said...

Ttony, responding to my prior comment, wrote "Can [the idea that canonized saints did not spend time in Purgatory] be really true? All the saints in heaven have committed at least one sin: only the BVM is Immaculate. There might be an argument 'he spent his Purgatory on earth" but I have only heard the statement used in pious eulogies.'"

I could not point to a Church pronouncement that declares as much. It is certainly my understanding, however, that the tradition is that "heroic virtue" (or perhaps some other criterion for canonization) implied that one had, during his life, undergone all of the temporal punishment due his sins and was not, therefore, subject to such punishment after death.

I don't know that this statement is included within the infallibility of a canonization: it doesn't seem (at least to my inexpert consideration) that it has to be. I merely said that it could.

Jacobi said...

As a non theologian, this topic does not particularly concern me although I would tend to agree with Benedict XIV.

What does is the current widespread suggestion that Saints are above criticism. They are not, and should not be!

St Pius V, a splendid saint by any standards, made a crass political mistake in excommunicating Elizabeth. It infuriated other Catholic rulers and ensured England as a protestant country.

St Pius X rightly called for more frequent Holy Communion at a time when good Catholics, Belloc, Chesterton and so on, rarely received. But he did it without emphasising the Real Presence and the proper state to receive, hence the appallingly widespread and unchecked abuse of the Sacrament in virtually every Catholic Church today, with the Mass becoming in effect an all-inclusive communion service.

As for John XXIII, and Jean Paul II (they are not canonised until tomorrow!), well they certainly made mistakes but this is perhaps not the time to go into that.

ps the lack of miracles is also slightly concerning. Is Someone trying to drop a hint or two?

William Tighe said...

"St Pius V, a splendid saint by any standards, made a crass political mistake in excommunicating Elizabeth."

The real mistake was not doing it earlier, in 1559 or 60, when it might have made a difference.

Cordelio said...

Jacobi, do you have recourse to any other authority for your assertions regarding: a) the failure of Saint Pius X to emphasize the Real Presence and the proper state to receive; and b) the connection between this failure and modern abuses surrounding reception of the Eucharist?

A rereading the actual papal decree on the matter, Sacra Tridentina, would seem to belie these assertions - but perhaps there is some larger context that is relevant?