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So the Church has two new Saints April 28, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Basics, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Glory, Papa, Saints, sanctity, scandals, Spiritual Warfare, SSPX, Tradition, Virtue.

So it came to pass that there was no earthquake, pandemic, flood, or sudden death to interrupt the process of canonization for Pope Saint John XXIII and Pope Saint John Paul II.  Probably most Catholics, notional or faithful, are pleased at this development.  As for me, while I still have many qualms regarding the process and the prudence, I give full assent of divine faith to the fact that these two men are in Heaven. Roma locuta est, causa finita est.  As for their possession of heroic virtue, worthy of emulation, they certainly had aspects of such, but are not without fault.

But neither are any of us without fault.

A commenter I have gotten to know a bit offline and whom I have warm feelings towards asked whether the process is no so deficient that it would be an act of injustice to no longer pray for the repose of the soul of either of these men.  This asks a very fundamental question, for if the Church can no longer assure even if various souls are in Heaven, She has fallen so far I don’t know how we could trust Her judgment in any regard, especially doctrinal.

For me, it comes down to faith.  Faith in the Church.  Is the Church still the Church, in spite of all the problems?  For me, yes, it certainly is.  And I think questioning whether the Church can even ascertain whether a soul is in Pope_John_Paul_II_and_the_EucharistHeaven could lead to very dangerous places.

I fully understand that the process of canonization has been changed much for the worst in the past few decades.  Requirements for miracles have been reduced or often just thrown out, we see enormous mass groups canonized (nearly 900 souls at once!) which seems very strange, at least, and of course the position of the devil’s advocate was eliminated by one of the men just canonized.  There are also many political factors at play. I get all this, and my knowledge of all of the above weighs on my mind when I consider the prudence and timing of not just these most recent canonizations, but others as well.

But I still come back to the basic point: is the Church still the Church, or not?  If the Church via the Pope errs in proclaiming a soul or souls to be in Heaven, on what can She be right?  To me, to question the validity of these or any other canonization is to be heading almost in a sede vacantist territory, where the Church is no longer the Church, the Pope no longer the Pope.  This is such a fundamental matter I simply cannot accept that there could be an error in one of these declaration.

I would also say that I get the idea that one does not want to be uncharitable or unjust by not failing to pray for souls who need prayers.  That redounds to the credit of those so concerned. But it is not up for debate at this point.  The Church, warts and all, has spoken.

A priest I know and respect a great deal discussed this over the weekend.  He quoted from several Fathers and Doctors of the Church.  Canonizations are the most frequent exercise of the ordinary universal Magisterium in making infallible claims.  We have to accept that these men are in Heaven as a matter of faith.  Problems with the Pope John XXIII 13process cannot affect the validity of these declarations.  And it is at least an indirect mortal sin against the supernatural virtue of Faith to deny their validity.  He quoted St. Robert Bellarmine directly on this point.

I think the priest made some very strong points, but I would have accepted these canonizations without hearing them.  I am not a theologian, so I don’t know the degree to which some of these points might be arguable, if any.  But it did sound quite convincing to me.

There is great confusion as to whether a canonization is a declaration simply that a given soul is in Heaven, or whether it also speaks infallibly about the entire conduct of the life of the soul in question.  The official Actas of the Holy See in such matters only address the fact that the soul is in Heaven.  Now we know that only virtuous souls can enter Heaven.  God decides who possesses sufficient virtue to enter Heaven at each particular judgment, and we believe that the Pope as the Vicar of Christ  – in spite of all shortcomings – is possessed of a charism to infallibly inform us that a soul is in Heaven through formal canonization.  Infallibility protects only negatively, against error, so that a positive declaration that a soul is in Heaven is an infallible statement.

Whether there were grave problems in a person’s life at various points, or in the conduct of whatever office was entrusted to them, are simply beside the point.  The soul is in Heaven, period.  There was obviously enough virtue there to merit salvation, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

Where problems do come in for faithful souls is when folks try to use, for less than virtuous ends, the fact that a 111_JPII_Shaman01given person is a Saint to advance less than perfectly desirable aspects of their lives as something virtuous and good for the entire Church.  This is a way of seeking to canonize the entire life and vocation of a given soul, even if some of that life actually weighed against salvation or is otherwise deleterious to the Faith.  What I am trying to say is, just because John Paul II is confirmed to be in Heaven, infallibly, that does not mean his kissing the Koran or invoking St. John the Baptist to protect islam were acts worthy of veneration/emulation.  That there are people in the Church who will almost certainly try to claim such, is one reason why I opposed the rush to canonization before it was completed.

But now that it is, I accept, wholly and unreservedly, that John XXIII and John Paul II are Saints in Heaven.  I will ask their intercession.  But I still have reservations with the process and feel the timing was imprudent, for reasons discussed previously. One can accept a Saint is in Heaven, while believing that the timing of the canonization was not desirable or that there are aspects of the Saint’s life that are bothersome and perhaps should have been more strongly considered in the process – and still remain a fully faithful Catholic.  But as to whether they are in Heaven, that has been formally declared: they are.

A couple final notes: John Paul II may have flown to Heaven the moment his soul left his body, or he may have spent all the intervening period in Purgatory.  One does not have to be a canonized Saint to be in Heaven.  Canonization merely assures us that a given soul is, indeed, a Saint.  But there are hopefully millions more Saints in Heaven than have been formally declared to be such.

Finally, is it hard to be a Saint?  Yes and no.  Actually knowing what we must do to be a Saint is not hard, but actually doing it: that can be pretty hard, depending on the kind of life we’ve led.  The video below gives some pretty good instruction on what we must do to be saints.  I pray you find it useful:

Oh, one more thing.  This really is a glorious thing, all politics and talk of crisis and problems with process aside.  Two more souls are in Heaven, worshiping God forever and ensconced in the Beatific Vision forever!  That is so wonderful!  It is a miracle anytime a soul is there!


1. Terri - April 28, 2014

I do believe there are lots of Saints in heaven that are of the “unknown” species. Just because someone is canonized of course doesn’t mean other souls have to wait in purgatory an eternity to get there……..we just don’t know who they are. And just because a person has a “questionable” past in my opinion doesn’t have much to do with the price of beans. There were many known great Saints with a terrible past before their conversion. In their past lives they were anything BUT saints. St. Augustine for instance? Someone who I believe is on his way to Sainthood is the Venerable Matt Talbot. An Irish Monk that lived a good part of his adult life stealing money to buy his next drink. By the grace of God he turned his life around of course and walked to Mass daily…spent a lot of time in prayer and good works for the poor and for the Church. And when he died they found several chains around his bare waist that he wore for a very long time as a mortification for his past life. I do believe he has a few miracles under his belt (pardon the pun:) but they are still investigating a few.

I heard my priest say at the end of his homily about a year ago: “For every Saint there is a past, and for every sinner there is a future.” Love it, love it, love it. And now…..everyone who has spent time in purgatory and is now in heaven is…………………A SAINT.

2. Noah Moerbeek - April 28, 2014

I believe that Canonizations are infallible.

However, I am reluctance to start concluding others are in mortal sin, even if St Robert Bellarmines said that, St Robert Bellarmine also laid the claim of mortal sin to anyone who denied that the two witnesses that come down from heaven in the last days are Enoch and Elias. Not only was there no consensus among the Fathers on the two witnesses (in fact several Fathers contradict him directly) but in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma Ott identities the idea of Enoch and Elias being the two witnesses such a belief as not being dogmatic.

I am not trying to mix up the issues, my point is that the Saints could become very strict about their own opinion, St Bernards criticism of the Immaculate Conception is very robust, but he was wrong. St Robert Bellermines view of the two witnesses was so narrow that he (indirectly) accuses certain Church Fathers of heresy.

I read recently that Msgr. Gherardini doubts that canonizations are infallible and that he is not alone in such a belief. It gives me great pause before condemning my neighbor, I mean Msgr. Gehradini is no light weight in theology, he would know what St Robert Bellermaine said I assume and perhaps because of different evidence (or Saints) has reached a different conclusion.

If you read the current definition of canonization in the Catechism it does not mention infallibility but it does mention heroic virtue also being solemnly proclaimed.

“By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.303 “The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church’s history.”304 Indeed, “holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal.”

tantamergo - April 28, 2014

I have never seen any such comment from Msgr. Gherardini, whom I greatly respect. I would have to read them and see the context and his argument. But I would be pretty surprised that he would make such a claim.

I was speaking primarily for myself in that post. I tried to make that clear. However, I have seen many cogent arguments of late regarding canonizations as infallible statements of the Magisterium, and had always understood such to be the case going back some years. I have seen really strident and critical (of the current papacy) bloggers like Mundabor explicate on this pretty clearly.

I will concede, however, that the priest quoted is pretty strong, pretty hardcore. He errs on the side of caution, so to speak. He tends to define sins pretty clearly, in some ways one might even say harshly. But his reason for doing so is to keep souls from falling into error, so I don’t really blame him for that.

BTW, I sent you an e-mail. I’m not sure if it was not received, or if I am to knock more than once a la the Benedictines, or?

Consider this a second knock!

Noah Moerbeek - April 28, 2014

I know about the Msgr Gheradini because of a reply that was made recently by Unam Sanctam to Prof Roberto de Mattei

http://www.cfnews.org/page88/files/6f68a916ecfd1824ca26cf802db0c2fc-217.html here was the original article rebutted.

He does not directly site a work, but calls him as a witness against the infallibility of canonizations, Prof Roberto I also find trustworthy, so I took him at his word.

You and I are of one heart on this matter, I always have believed in the infallibility of canonizations as well.

I have had bad experiences with Priests being personally convicted of an opinion and speaking with great strictness when their was room for diversity of opinion. I would say it even caused me (and some around me) harm when I was a spiritual beginner. Later, when I found out that they were either exaggerating the veracity of the opinion, or where just engaged in their own flavor of resourcement theology finding it was hard to not feel betrayed and hurt.

That may not be the case here but it was the reason why I made comment.

I wish I could say that I was testing your resolve!
However, the last e-mail I have is from April the 10th which I replied to the same day, did you send one since then or did you not get my reply?

tantamergo - April 28, 2014

Bah! My mistake! And I’m sorry for not replying. It went to my junk box. I found it.

Thank you, I’ll reply soon.

Dominus vobiscum!

3. Don - April 29, 2014

From Rorate —

The canonization ceremony of October 21, 2012 saw the introduction of a revised rite that was very similar to the one used prior to Pius XII. Rorate noted this reform on that very same day. This rite will be used today, although the Te Deum will be replaced with a shorter hymn (Iubilate Deo, Cantate Domino).

This reform attracted little attention; the ephemeral restoration of the fanon got far more media space. This does not change the fact that the new rite of canonization may well go down as one of Pope Benedict XVI’s more far-reaching reforms, not least because it includes the following petition (the third one), addressed to the Pope just before he proclaims the actual formula of canonization:

Most Holy Father, Holy Church, trusting in the Lord’s promise to send upon her the Spirit of Truth, who in every age keeps the Supreme Magisterium free from error, most earnestly beseeches Your Holiness to enroll these, her elect, among the saints.

Prior to the third petition, in his response to the second petition, the Pope says:

Let us, then, invoke the Holy Spirit, the Giver of life, that he may enlighten our minds and that Christ the Lord may not permit his Church to err in a matter of such importance.

(Emphases ours).

These two formulae, or any formula more or less explicitly saying the same things, were present neither in the post-1969 rite of canonization, nor (to our knowledge) in the rites of canonization prior to the main liturgical reforms of the 1960’s. Anyone can see the significance of these little formulae to the continuing question of the infallibility of canonizations — the act of canonization is now explicitly included in the immunity of the Supreme Magisterium from error.

Some will protest that these words do not amount to an Apostolic Constitution, or a dogmatic tome, or an infallible decree spoken by the mouth of the Holy Father himself. Fair enough; but they are part of the liturgy of canonization, these words “put into context”, so to speak, the formula of canonization that the Pope is about to pronounce. One can even say that these remind him of the extent of his authority just before he exercises it. These two formulae therefore cannot be lightly dismissed, and any future critique of the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II will have to take these into account.

tantamergo - April 29, 2014

Yes, I saw that. Important information, to be sure, which speaks to the infallibility of declarations of canonization.

4. TG - April 29, 2014

Mundabor’s prayer to St. John XIII and St. John Paul brought a chuckle. I won’t repeat it in case it’s a sin but it is funny -just go to his blog.. (Mundabor totally accepts their canonizations as I do.)

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