Archive for the ‘Canonizations’ Category

Pope Benedict XIV


Canonization is a decree and definition by the Catholic Church that a certain individual has died heroically in a state of grace to be venerated by the faithful as a saint with a place on the liturgical calendar as a holy day.

The formula for canonization, which has been in use since the eleventh century, declares:
“In honor of . . . we decree and define that Blessed N. is a Saint, and we inscribe his name in the catalogue of saints, and order that his memory be devoutly and piously celebrated yearly on the . . . day of . . . his feast.”
Feast days or Holy Days are binding on the whole Church. It’s part of the sacred liturgy of the Church. The saint of a particular feast day is recognized by name in the liturgy making him part of the prayers of the sacred liturgy.
It’s not difficult to find reputed saints and theologians teaching that canonizations are infallible.
Sts. Thomas Aquinas, Antoninus, Bellarmine, and Alphonsus Liquori explained how and why canonizations are infallible. [1]
Cardinal Manning declared after the First Vatican Council how the council included in its definition canonization. [2]
NovusOrdoWatch cites Fr. Joachim Salaverri on how canonizations are infallible. [3]
In the 1700’s, Pope Benedict XIV taught as a cardinal, “If anyone dared to assert that the Pontiff had erred in this or that canonization, we shall say that he is, if not a heretic, at least temerarious, a giver of scandal to the whole Church, an insulter of the saints, a favorer of those heretics who deny the Church’s authority in canonizing saints, savoring of heresy by giving unbelievers an occasion to mock the faithful, the assertor of an erroneous opinion and liable to very grave penalties” [4]
Pope Benedict XIV quotes over 60 canonists and theologians on how and why canonizations are infallible. He notes that only a select few of ancient authors professed the contrary.
If canonizations are not infallible then Pope Pius XI couldn’t declare in 1925, Quas Primas, (22) : Not least among the blessings which have resulted from the public and legitimate honor paid to the Blessed Virgin and the saints is the perfect and perpetual immunity of the Church from error and heresy.
Pope Pius XII declared in 1956, Haurietis Aquas: It is clear that the faithful must seek from Scripture, tradition and the sacred liturgy as from a deep untainted source.
A liturgy that recognizes a canonized saint is untainted. Therefore, canonizations must be infallible for the possibility of error is absent.
In addition to the canonization of saints is the veneration of relics of the saints.
The Council of Trent decreed in Session XXV: “the holy bodies of holy martyrs and of others now living with Christ—which bodies were the living members of Christ and ‘the temple of the Holy Ghost’ (1 Corinthians 6:19) and which are by Him to be raised to eternal life and to be glorified are to be venerated by the faithful, for through these [bodies] many benefits are bestowed by God on men, so that they who affirm that veneration and honor are not due to the relics of the saints, or that these and other sacred monuments are uselessly honored by the faithful, and that the places dedicated to the memories of the saints are in vain visited with the view of obtaining their aid, are wholly to be condemned, as the Church has already long since condemned, and also now condemns them.”
Relics, particularly of martyrs, are placed in altar stones as part of the consecrated altar of churches named for the particular saint of whose relic is used. The churches themselves are named after canonized saints.
The decree by the Council of Trent implies that canonizations are infallible.
The same council also declared in Session XXII, Can. 7: If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses, are incentives to impiety rather than the services of piety: let him be anathema [cf. n. 943]. (D. 954.)
None of the above teachings of popes and council make sense if canonizations are not infallible. Having infallible implications of fallible decrees is like the Protestant position of having a fallible canon of Scripture of infallible books. You can’t have your fallible decree with infallible conclusions.
If it’s not infallible that St. Ignatius of Loyola is a saint, then having churches built in his name, veneration of his relics, liturgical prayers that ask, “O God, Who, to spread abroad the greater glory of Thy name, didst, through blessed Ignatius, strengthen the Church militant with a new reinforcement, grant that we, who are fighting on earth by his help and after his example, may deserve to be crowned with him in heaven. Through our Lord”, and our profession of Faith that he’s in heaven is all based on a possible error. St. Ignatius is just one example. How many possible non-saints do we have with their churches, relics, and liturgical prayers all around the world? To suggest the possibility is insanity!
To say canonizations are not infallible is an outright attack on the Catholic Faith because the only reason why anyone today would make such a claim is because he doesn’t like the individual or individuals canonized.
Pseudo-traditionalists know how bad it is that John Paul II and Paul VI have been canonized, but they would rather take down all the Church holds sacred in the profession of faith concerning the communion of saints than to admit that sedevacantism is true.
[2] “In a word, the whole magisterium or doctrinal authority of the Pontiff as the supreme Doctor of all Christians, is included in this definition [at Vatican I] of his infallibility. And also all legislative or judicial acts, so far as they are inseparably connected with his doctrinal authority; as for instance, all judgments, sentences, and decisions, which contain the motives of such acts as derived from faith and morals. Under this will come the laws of discipline, canonization of the saints, approbation of Religious Orders, of devotions, and the like; all of which intrinsically contain the truths and principles of faith, morals and piety. The definition, then, does not limit the infallibility of the Pontiff to his supreme acts ex cathedra in faith and morals, but extends his infallibility to all acts in the fullest exercise of his supreme magisterium or doctrinal authority.” (Cardinal Manning, The Vatican Council and its Definitions, New York: D.J. Sadlier, 1887, pp. 95-96.)
[3] Jesuit theologian Fr. Joachim Salaverri explains the Church’s teaching on the infallibility of canonizations as follows:
…the end of the infallible Magisterium demands those things that are necessary in order to direct the faithful without error to salvation through the correct worship [=veneration] and imitation of the examples of Christian virtues. But for such a purpose infallibility concerning decrees on the Canonization of Saints is necessary.
[This] is certain, because by the solemn decrees of the Canonization of Saints the Church not only tolerates and permits, but also commends and instructs the whole flock of the faithful that certain definite Saints whom it canonizes are to be honored, and it proposes them as examples of virtue who are worthy of imitation. But the mere possibility of error in such a solemn declaration would take away all confidence from the faithful and fundamentally would destroy the whole cult of the Saints; because [then] it could happen that the Church would solemnly propose to all and mandate that condemned and evil men perpetually should be honored. Therefore, in order to direct the faithful without error to salvation through correct worship and imitation of the examples of Christian virtues, infallibility is necessary concerning the solemn decrees of the Canonization of Saints.
(Fr. Joachim Salaverri, Sacrae Theologiae Summa IB: On the Church of Christ, trans. by Fr. Kenneth Baker [original Latin published by BAC, 1955; English published by Keep the Faith, 2015], n. 724; underlining added; italics removed.)
This is the Catholic teaching, to deny which would be “temerarious, bringing scandal to the whole Church, … smacking of heresy … affirming an erroneous proposition”, in the words of Pope Benedict XIV (see Salaverri, n. 726; italics removed).
[4] Pope Benedict XIV: De Canonisatione Sanctorum L.1 c.43 n.3. quoted by Tanquerey, de Lugo, Salaverri, and others to defend the infallibility of canonizations.

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