Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Uncertainty of the Certainty of Sainthood

From Catholic Answers:

Hi. I know that canonization is infallible, but I have read that the existence of some of these Saints, especially those of the early Christian church, are doubted historically. I've also read that there were instances where some saints were removed precisely because their very existence was doubted historically. Isn't this at odds with the infallibility of the canonization process?

Answer (from  a staff apologist at Catholic Answer):

First of all, when the question arises concerning the infallibility of canonization, it usually centers on the action of a pope officially declaring someone to be a saint. There is debate among theologians as to whether or not papal infallibility extends to this, but according to the Catholic Encyclopedia most theologians believe that it does (for more information, please visit this link and scroll down to the heading, "Papal Infallibility and Canonization").


Michael Taylor said...

Yet another example of how Rome simply isn't sure when something has been infallibly defined or not.

Keep in mind canon 749 §3: No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.

So now all we have to do is figure out what "manifestly evident" means.

I wonder if it means something like "perspicuous."

Good find there.

BTW, when are you going to join the "banned" club?

Rooney said...

Pope Benedict on 2005-08-17 said this:

"Brother Roger is in the hands of eternal goodness and eternal love and has arrived at eternal joy."

I wonder if this statement was infallible.

If it is, then:
1. This person skipped purgatory.
2. He died on a Tuesday, so no scapular would have rescued him from purgatory at the time of B16's statement, which was the next day.
3. This person was a Swiss Calvinist ecumenical minister who founded the Taize ecumenical community.

The Pope wont lie in public will he?

EA said...

The post at the link to Catholic Answers is fascinating. I suggest everyone read it. The CA post in turn links to the New Advent site (The old Catholic Encyclopedia web site).

From the CA post:
"Concerning the saints of the early Church, our historical knowledge of some of them has considerably dwindled over time, and it is often hard to distinguish between facts and what are called "pious legends". The historical authenticity of information conveyed through pious legends can be questionable because such accounts are subjected to the phenomena described in the opening section of this article: Literary or Profane Legends. Generally speaking, it is not that the very existence of such saints is doubted, but that there may be a notable distinction between the actual holy people who walked the earth and many of the stories that developed concerning them."

And from the NA site:
"In the course of oral transmission historic narrative necessarily becomes more or less legendary. Details are emphasized or exaggerated, actions ascribed to different motives, facts are forgotten or suppressed, chronological and geographical data confused, and traits and motifs from older tales are added. Gradually this tradition, passing from mouth to mouth, takes on a more definite shape and a more distinct outline, and finally it passes into literature and receives a permanent and fixed form."

This is exactly the same process that Sacred Tradition follows, only Catholic apologists insist that no corruption of the information takes place. Color me skeptical.