“Dogmatic Suicide”: On Canonization

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By: S.D. Wright

Canonizations are Infallible, and We Must Accept the Consequences

Many Catholics reject the canonizations of Paul VI, John Paul II and others. Some reject all post-Vatican II canonizations.

But everyone is instinctively aware that there is something amiss about rejecting canonizations, which were previously held to be infallible. This is why there are such a variety of theories proposed to justify these rejections. These theories include:

  • The new canonization process is less rigorous, and therefore no longer infallible;
  • The men being canonized are “invalid matter”;
  • The conception of sainthood has changed;
  • Canonizations are no longer backed by the infallible authority of the Pope, but by some other collegial authority;
  • The infallibility of canonizations has not itself been infallibly taught by the Church;
  • Some modern canonizations have political motives;
  • Canonizations are not teaching acts; and
  • Infallibility only covers things that were revealed before the death of St John.

Another theory admits that canonizations are infallible, but that all this means is that a person is in Heaven.

These various opinions are more or less ingenious, but they all neglect the relationship between canonizations and the purpose of infallibility, and of the Church herself. They necessarily imply that the pre-conciliar Roman theology manuals were either deficient, or even mistaken. But, as Mgr Joseph Clifford Fenton wrote, “the common or morally unanimous teaching of the manuals in this field is definitely a part of Catholic doctrine [and] has always been recognized as a norm of Catholic doctrine.[1]

We have explained the authority of this body of theology elsewhere. We cannot just dismiss these manuals, particularly those written between the first and second Vatican Councils.

There is a myth that this was a terrible period of “ultramontanism”, or an exaggeration of papal prerogatives. But the manuals from this period are far from such exaggerations. On the contrary, these sober books are a gold standard for ecclesiology and related issues. This was a flourishing period for this topic, and the authors benefited from Vatican I’s clarity on the extent and limits of infallibility, and yet preceded the errors and confusion that came with Vatican II.

It is beyond this article’s scope to engage with each alternative theory. Rather than looking at what great theologians might have said on this throughout history, this article shall present the arguments for infallibility from a selection of these English-language manuals (mostly translations from Latin, from authors of varying nationalities). While individual texts are not infallible, when they are authorized by bishops for official use, they “may be said to express in some way the ordinary magisterium of the Church.”[2] We shall see that the received theology in these English-language manuals is consistent, necessarily true, and yet largely ignored.

What is Canonization?

Mgr Van Noort, author of Christ’s Church, defined canonization as follows:

The final and definitive decree by which the sovereign pontiff declares that someone has been admitted to heaven and is to be venerated by everyone, at least in the sense that all the faithful are held to consider the person [to be] a saint worthy of public veneration.[3]

This definition is standard, and expressed in similar terms in the manuals of Fr E. Sylvester Hunter,[4] Fr Joachim Salaverri,[5] Fr Ludwig Ott,[6] Fr E. Sylvester Berry,[7] Fr Adolphe Tanquerey,[8] Cardinal Pietro Parente[9] and in the American Ecclesiastical Review articles of Mgr Joseph Clifford Fenton[10] and Fr John Hardon.[11] St Robert Bellarmine (a higher authority than a manualist, of course, but relevant to the question) says the same.[12]

Note that this is a definition of canonization – it does not necessarily apply to those saints who have not been canonized by the Pope in the way defined above.[13]

Fr Camillo Beccari, in his article, “Beatification and Canonization” in the Catholic Encyclopaedia, states that canonization is an act by which a pope both defines and commands. Beccari specifically says that the pope defines “that this person canonized is in heaven”; and commands that “public veneration [is] to be paid [to this] individual by the Universal Church.”[14] He states that canonizations are universal, definitive and prescriptive, and that this is what distinguishes them from beatification.[15]

We can see, therefore, a consensus: canonization is a definitive, final and therefore irreformable precept, commanding the faithful to believe and profess, not just that an individual is in Heaven, but also that he is worthy of veneration, and in fact to be venerated by all.

Can the Church err in such a matter?

The Secondary Object of Infallibility

Contrary to popular belief, infallibility is not limited to those things believed “everywhere, by everyone, and at all times”, or revealed before the death of St John.

According to the manuals and other sources, it is theologically certain that the Church is also infallible in defining “other truths which are required necessarily in order to guard the whole deposit of revelation”.[16] The manuals call such truths the “secondary object of infallibility.”

These truths, according to Van Noort, “are so closely connected with the revealed deposit that revelation itself would be imperilled unless an absolutely certain decision could be made about them”.[17] The other manuals cited say the same.[18]

This is common sense: if the Church were not infallible in such matters, the faithful could not rely on her regarding truths “required necessarily” to guard the Faith. No Catholic can admit such a possibility.

And canonizations are always included under the secondary object of infallibility.

What do the manuals, popes and saints say about canonizations being infallible?

As is admitted by all, the common opinion before the Council was that canonizations are infallible.

In his Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, Hunter writes: “No writer of repute doubts that this last decree of Canonization is an exercise of the infallible authority of the Church.”[19]

Tanquerey’s Manual of Dogmatic Theology says: “the Church is infallible in regard to canonization of saints, but not to beatification. This opinion is true and common”.[20]

Van Noort says that canonizations are infallible, and that this is the common opinion.[21]

Berry’s classic work The Church of Christ teaches the same.[22]

Ott, in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, teaches the same.[23]

Parente, in his Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, teaches the same.[24]

Beccari, in the Catholic Encyclopaedia article mentioned, says that “most theologians answer in the affirmative,” and cites the authority of Ss Thomas Aquinas, Robert Bellarmine and Antoninus, along with the theologians Melchior Cano, Suarez, Bañez and Vasquez, and a host of canonists.[25]

Hardon’s treatment of Bellarmine’s doctrine in the American Ecclesiastical Review shows that the saint (and he himself) believed the same.[26]

Salaverri, in his On the Church of Christ, says that it is theologically certain that canonizations are infallible, and that this proposition is itself implicitly defined.[27]

Fenton says the same in even stronger terms: not only are canonizations infallible, but they are also to be believed with divine faith; and that doubting any particular canonization is a heresy against ecclesiastical faith.[28]

Three Popes and Two Doctors

Before he became Pope, Benedict XIV was the “Devil’s Advocate” for years. He wrote the classic and authoritative work on canonization. Although not the pope at the time, this work is commonly treated as being of very great weight and is usually referred to under his papal name.

In it, he teaches that “the universal Church cannot be led into error concerning matters of morals by the Supreme Pontiff; but this would be the case if he were not infallible in the canonization of saints”.[29]

He also teaches that “anyone who dares to assert that the Pontiff erred in this or that Canonization, that this or that Saint canonized by him is not to be honored” was, if not heretical, “temerarious, bringing scandal to the whole Church… smacking of heresy… affirming an erroneous proposition”.[30]

Further, he presents the teaching of Pope Sixtus V (sixteenth century) before this pope canonized St Didacus:

Basing his arguments upon Holy Scripture, theological reasoning, and all manner of proofs, the pope demonstrated that the Roman Pontiff […] cannot be mistaken nor induce into error when he canonizes saints. And he affirmed that this truth must be believed not only as a pious belief, but as the object of a very certain and necessary act of faith; [adding] that the laws of the Church and of the pope are certain and guaranteed whenever they concern the discipline of faith and morals and rest upon sure principles and solid foundations.[31]

Pope Pius XI believed that his canonizations were infallible, saying during their decrees:

We, as the supreme Teacher of the Catholic Church, pronounce an infallible judgment with these words.

We, from the Chair of Blessed Peter, as the supreme Teacher of the whole Church of Christ, solemnly proclaim with these words an infallible judgement”, along with at least two other such instances.[32]

As further examples, two of the most significant doctors of the Church teach the same thing about this infallibility: the Common Doctor, St Thomas Aquinas, and the Doctor of Ecclesiology, St Robert Bellarmine.

St Thomas teaches that “the honor which we show to the Saints is a certain profession of faith” and that “it is piously believed that even in these matters the judgment of the Church cannot be in error”.[33]

St Robert Bellarmine teaches: “We hold that the Church does not err in the canonization of her saints” and says:

If we were ever granted the privilege of doubting whether a canonized saint is really a saint or not, we should also have the liberty of doubting whether he has to be worshipped or not. But this, to borrow a phrase from Augustine, would be dogmatic suicide because then we should be allowed to call into question whether we have to do anything that the whole Church of Christ is doing.[34]

This quote from St Robert Bellarmine is cited approvingly by Hardon in the American Ecclesiastical Review.[35]

Some authors from history might disagree. But as we said above, the “received theology” from these inter-conciliar writers cited is a gold standard for such questions: and amongst these writers, there is an overwhelming consensus that canonizations are infallible.

But why do the manuals say that canonizations infallible?

Having demonstrated that these authorities agree on this issue, we may now turn to the more fundamental question: Why do they agree that they must be infallible?

  1. The Decrees of Canonization themselves

Although some of our fellow traditionalists dismiss canonization decrees as evidence for infallibility, the manuals consider them to form a solid argument. Van Noort states that they show that the popes believe their canonizations to be infallible.[36] This is the form used for the specific canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II:

For the honour of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be Saints and we enrol them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.[37]

This form is largely the same as that used by Pius XI above, albeit with even more forceful language. He canonizes, not only “by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul”, but also with “[his] own [authority]” – a clear invocation of papal authority. He claims “divine assistance” as he “declares and defines.” Aside from arguments about whether this meets Vatican I’s requirements for an extraordinary definition, such solemn language should make us consider the gravity of rejecting, or even questioning, such a decree.

Salaverri and others agree that decrees of this kind necessitate infallibility.[38] It is clear that, against those who dispute this argument, the various authors cited considered it to be sound. But the point here is not about magic words, but rather that this is a definitive and irreformable act imposing something on the whole Church: and regardless of Vatican I, the Church cannot err in such an act.[39]

 2. Infallibility itself

At the heart of the question lies this truth: Canonizations are infallible because of the very nature and purpose of the Church.

Van Noort teaches that the Church “is infallible so that it may be a trustworthy teacher of the Christian religion and of the Christian way of life,” which would not be so if she could err in canonizing saints:

Would not religion be sullied if a person in hell were, by a definitive decree, offered to everyone as an object of religious veneration? Would not the moral law be at least weakened to some extent if a protégé of the devil could be irrevocably set up as a model of virtue for all to imitate and all to invoke?[40]

We are not entering into the question of the eternal destiny of any particular post-conciliar saint. We are merely considering this teaching on the purpose of the Church’s infallibility, and how to reconcile it with certain canonizations of persons that lived in own lifetimes, who cannot be accepted as saints in the sense described.

However, Van Noort’s central point – that the Church is “infallible so that it may be a trustworthy teacher of the Christian religion and of the Christian way of life” is itself a controversial position today. Many do not believe that the Church is “a trustworthy teacher of the Christian religion and of the Christian way of life.” They instead believe that the truth is found in the Church, alongside some extent of error – and that it is incumbent on all to assess what is being taught, in order to accept what is true and reject what is false.

Leaving aside the question of fact – namely whether there are errors in the post-conciliar magisterium – which principles are found in our other manuals and theologians?

Fenton gives the same position as Van Noort, saying that the Church can “infallibly declare [a man] a Saint”, because:

[She] teaches and acts as a living and infallible teacher of divinely revealed truth. […] And, for the infallible statements of its teaching, the Church demands the assent of divine faith. [41]

This paragraph and Fenton’s entire article refer to the classic range of secondary objects of infallibility, including canonizations. Canonizations are infallible, Fenton says, because otherwise the Church would not be a living and infallible teacher.

Berry agrees that in the act of canonization, “the Church proclaims the saint a model of virtue” and “commands all the faithful to honor him, and exhorts all to imitate his life.” But if the Church could err in this, then “the faithful would be led into grievous error by imitating the life of a sinner and honoring one who is forever estranged from the friendship of God”.[42]

Ott adds that “If the Church could err in her opinion [of canonizations], consequences would arise which would be incompatible with the sanctity of the Church.”[43]

Tanquerey says of canonizations that “truly the Church cannot make a mistake in matters which concern a profession of faith and morals, when she is making known a definitive judgement and is imposing a precept on the faithful”.[44]

Hunter teaches that canonizations must be infallible, because otherwise, in defining someone to be a saint and to be “honoured as such by the whole Church”, “the whole Church would be led into offering superstitious worship.”[45]

Moving away from the manuals, we have already seen that Fr Hardon has St Robert Bellarmine calling such doubts “dogmatic suicide.”[46] If the Church could err in this way, St Robert says, then she also “would be calling down on herself the most dreadful maledictions every time she prayed” to these damned souls (which we hold has a certain application to giving someone the honours due to a saint as defined, even if they were “merely” in Heaven, or still in Purgatory).

As above, Hardon accepts and repeats the doctrine of this Doctor of the Church. St Robert does also cite the diligence of the investigatory process as a reason for credibility: but even in the absence of a diligent process, his first arguments on the nature of canonization stand.[47]

St Thomas makes the same argument and teaches that, if canonizations are not infallible, then the whole Church could be commanded to venerate a damned soul as a saint – and aside from anything else, this would result in confusion and dangerous error. This would be especially so for those who knew these non-saints in their lifetimes.[48]

Salaverri presents the most striking exposition of the matter. He says that the very purpose of the infallible Magisterium demands what is “necessary in order to direct the faithful without error to salvation through the correct worship and imitation of the examples of Christian virtues”.[49]

But in the solemn decrees of canonization, he continues:

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 honoured, 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 it could happen that the Church would solemnly propose to all and mandate that condemned and evil men perpetually should be honored and imitated. 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.[50]

We can distil all of this into the following points:

  1. The Church is a sure guide, directing the faithful to salvation, right morality and true worship.
    • Canonization establishes a public, universal, mandatory and perpetual veneration to a given person, definitively ruling that they are in Heaven and that they are worthy of veneration and imitation,[51] and commanding universal veneration.[52]
  2. But if the Church could err in canonizations as defined above, then she cannot be trusted to guide us to Heaven, to teach the Faithful or to worship God correctly. But this contradicts the first premise and fundamental tenets of the Faith, as demonstrated in this article.
  3. Therefore, the Church cannot err in canonizations.
Some Objections in Passing

As stated at the beginning, this article is presenting arguments for infallibility from the manualist tradition, rather than dealing with each alternative theory. But to address some objections in passing:

  • Discussions around the investigation process and political motives miss the point in a profound way.
  • Saying that these canonizations are doubtful because of a change in perspective on sanctity and heroic virtue is to concede that the Church is no longer “a trustworthy teacher of the Christian religion and of the Christian way of life,”[53] and could be led into superstitious worship.[54] But this cannot be conceded. Although this thesis is now questioned today, including by many traditionalists, it is firmly established by the sources cited and the tradition of the Church. Denying it is indeed, as Bellarmine is quoted saying, “dogmatic suicide.”
  • A similar problem arises by suggesting that canonizations are now a collegial act, and therefore not covered by the Pope’s personal infallibility. But canonizations are infallible, not per se by their definition by the Pope, but rather by virtue of being universal, definitive and irreformable decisions. If such a precept is reformable, then we are conceding the same as above – that the person could be in Hell, or that the Church could command imitation of their merely natural virtues as sufficient for Heaven, or command veneration of someone truly unworthy – with all the deleterious consequences just outlined. It is, in the same way, “dogmatic suicide.”
  • The objection that the Church has not infallibly defined that canonizations are infallible is a great red herring. Catholics might hold tolerated minority opinions in good faith – but good faith does not remove an idea’s theoretical consequences. We concede that it is not infallible that canonizations are infallible: it is however, according to Salaverri, theologically certain that they are infallible. This is a lower grade of certainty than a de fide definition – but it is nonetheless certain.

When we look at the matter from this angle, there can be no other conclusions. Canonizations are infallible – and so the canonizations of John Paul II and others pose a serious theological problem, which none of the theories mentioned satisfactorily resolve.

Conclusions

Faced with errors everywhere, Catholics try to hold fast to those things taught under “the primary object” of infallibility, namely “each and every religious truth contained formally in the sources of revelation”.[55] But we cannot ignore the secondary objects of infallibility, including canonizations.

This is not to say that people are wrong for rejecting the canonization of men such as Paul VI, who oversaw what he himself called “the auto-demolition of the Church”.

But those who go further, and build theories about why post-conciliar saints can be rejected need to do so with their eyes wide open. They need to acknowledge, not just that the theological consensus is in favour of infallibility, but also that the reasons for this consensus are rooted in the most fundamental purposes of the Church herself.

Some of these supposedly canonized men lived and died within our lifetimes – lifetimes lived under an unprecedented ecclesiastical crisis, over which some of these men presided. We cannot deny the clear evidence of our senses and intellects: they and various others were not saints. Accepting them as saints would be to hold them as worthy of imitation and public veneration. And this we cannot do: for against facts, there can be no arguments.

We cannot evade the force of this consensus by finding loopholes in obscure post-conciliar legislation. And we cannot throw out a theological consensus, or construct theories without reference to the reasons for this consensus. We cannot dismiss it as “ultramontanist” without refuting the arguments upon which it is based, or producing more manuals or higher authorities, and thus showing that our selection is misrepresentative. The situation is confusing, but one cannot create explanatory theories based on theological errors which undermine the whole reason for having a Church at all.

But as theories must be proposed, we must begin by accepting the teaching of these authorities and letting the chips fall where they may – even if that means arriving at a very uncomfortable, unpopular and controversial position.

One way to synthesize these clearly invalid canonizations with the theological consensus is to say that they do not truly come from the authority of the Church. But how can this be, given that they have every appearance of having come from the Supreme Pontiff and been universally imposed?

The solution has already been raised by those writing of a false, “Conciliar Church” eclipsing the Catholic Church, like the Moon eclipsing the Sun. This topic has been discussed in various quarters (including by ourselves).[56] While the case must be made from doctrine and theology, it has been spoken of in various prophecies, such as by Our Lady of La Salette. Even Fr E. Sylvester Berry, one of the respected manualist authors cited, discusses such an idea in his The Church of Christ:

The prophecies of the Apocalypse show that Satan will imitate the Church of Christ to deceive mankind; he will set up a church of Satan in opposition to the Church of Christ. Antichrist will assume the role of Messias; his prophet will act the part of the Pope, and there will be imitations of the Sacraments of the Church.[57]

Berry develops this idea in his work The Apocalypse of St John:

The [false] prophet will probably set himself up in Rome as a sort of antipope during the vacancy of the papal throne mentioned above.[58]

And when dealing with catholicity and diffusion as a mark of the Church, he also says:

There seems to be no reason why a false Church might not become universal, even more universal than the true one, at least for a time.[59]

Whether we have been living in the “End Times” since the 1960s or not, the ideas are instructive. False churches and false popes have no divine assurance of infallibility in canonizations. And faced with these clearly invalid canonizations of non-saints and unholy destroyers of the Church, we can hear again the words of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre:

While we are certain that the faith the Church has taught for twenty centuries cannot contain error, we are much further from absolute certitude that the pope is truly pope.[60]


[For more from S.D. Wright, I highly recommend the following in-depth treatment of the unity and visibility of the Church. – LV]

What does it mean for Catholics to believe in ‘One’ Holy Catholic Apostolic Church?


ENDNOTES

[1] Joseph Clifford Fenton, ‘The Teaching of the Theological Manuals’, American Ecclesiastical Review, April 1963, pp. 254-270. Available at: http://strobertbellarmine.net/viewtopic.php?p=7489

[2] Joseph Clifford Fenton, What is Sacred Theology? Cluny Media, 2018. pp. 118-9.

[3] G. Van Noort, ‘Christ’s Church’, Dogmatic Theology II, Newman Press, Maryland 1957. 117

[4] Sylvester Hunter, Outlines of Dogmatic Theology I, Benzinger Bros, Chicago 1895. 311

[5] Joachim Salaverri SJ, ‘On the Church of Christ’ Summa Theologiae Sacrae IB, Keep the Faith, 2015 262

[6] Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Baronius Press 2018. 321

[7] E. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ, Wipf Stock and Publishers, Oregon, 1955. 292

[8] Adolphe Tanquerey, Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Desclee, New York 1959, Vol I.147.

[9] Pietro Parente, Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee 1951, p 37.

[10] Joseph Clifford Fenton, ‘The Question of Ecclesiastical Faith’, American Ecclesiastical Review, April,1953. Available at: http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/fenton_ecclesiastical_faith.html

[11] John Hardon SJ, ‘Bellarmine’s Defense of Canonized Saints’, American Ecclesiastical Review, April 1948. Available at: http://strobertbellarmine.net/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=200

[12] Bellarmine, De beatitudine et canonizatione sanctorum, lib. I, cap 9 – quoted in Hardon.

[13] See also footnote 38.

[14] Camillo Beccari. (1907). ‘Beatification and Canonization.’ In The Catholic Encyclopaedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved December 2, 2020 from New Advent.

[15] Beccari also writes in the same article: “What is the object of this infallible judgment of the pope? Does he define that the person canonized is in heaven or only that he has practiced Christian virtues in an heroic degree? I have never seen this question discussed; my own opinion is that nothing else is defined than that the person canonized is in heaven.” Beccari is alone amongst the sources we have found to make such a claim, and his arguments do not address the issues we discuss in this paper.

[16] Revised Outline, Cn 9 – Draft Canons of Vatican I. Quoted in Salaverri, 266.

[17] Van Noort, 117

[18] Hunter, 308. Ott, 320. Berry, 289. Salaverri, 266. Tanquerey, 147.

[19] Hunter, 311

[20] Tanquerey 147.

[21] Van Noort, 110.

[22] Berry, 292

[23] Ott, 321

[24] Parente, 37-8.

[25] Beccari, under the heading “Papal Infallibility and Canonization”.

[26] Hardon.

[27] Salaverri, 273.

[28] Joseph Clifford Fenton, ‘The Question of Ecclesiastical Faith’, American Ecclesiastical Review, April,1953. Available at: http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/fenton_ecclesiastical_faith.html

[29] Quoted in Berry, 292

[30] Benedict XIV, quoted in Salaverri, 273.

[31] Benedict XIV, On the Beatification and Canonization of Saints, Bk. I, Ch. 43, No. 2 – quoted in Fr Jean-Michel Gleize SSPX, Beatification and canonization since Vatican – https://sspx.org/en/beatification-and-canonization-vatican-ii-2

[32] Quoted in Salaverri, 273

[33] Quodl. 9, a. 16. Quoted in Salaverri, 273

[34] Bellarmine, De beatitudine et canonizatione sanctorum, lib. I, cap 9 – quoted in Hardon.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Van Noort, 118

[37] http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/libretti/2014/20140427-libretto-canonizzazione.pdf The same form is used for Paul VI: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/libretti/2018/20181014-libretto-canonizzazione.pdf

[38] Salaverri 272 and the various other sources cited.

[39] Irreformability follows necessarily from the decree being final and definitive. In his discussion of Simon of Trent, John Lamont suggests canonizations are not irreformable, and others have claimed that this is also demonstrated by the case of St Philomena. We cannot here enter into further discussion about the distinctions between a formal canonization and equivalent canonization, or the difference between inclusion in the Roman Martyrology and the universal calendar of the Roman Rite, and so on. But suffice it to say that these distinctions vitiate this objection. We will, however, observe that referring to examples from 1965 is begging the question, as it is the Conciliar Church itself and its canonizations that are under question. Further, if the liturgy, doctrine and canonizations of the Conciliar Church can be questioned by traditionalist authors, then we see no reason why they should treat post-conciliar ‘unsaintings’ as evidence of anything in this discussion. Let us instead hear of pre-conciliar examples of saints, formally canonized by a Pope for universal veneration, who are then subsequently ‘unsainted’ by a pre-conciliar Pope: these are the cases that could undermine our thesis. Cf. John Lamont’s article: https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2018/12/follow-up-article-infallibility-of.html

[40] Van Noort 118

[41] Fenton, ‘The Question of Ecclesiastical Faith’, American Ecclesiastical Review, April,1953.

[42] Berry 292.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Tanquerey 147.

[45] Hunter 310

[46] Bellarmine, quoted in Hardon. We understand that others, including Mr Ryan Grant, have translated this as “insolent insanity,” but for the purposes of this article we prefer the colourful phrase used by the late Fr Hardon.

[47] St Robert Bellarmine, On the Canonization and Veneration of the Saints, translated by Ryan Grant for Mediatrix Press, Post Falls Idaho 2019. 121.

[48] St Thomas Aquinas, Quodlibet 9, Article 16, quoted in Gleize.

[49] Salaverri, 271

[50] Salaverri, 271-2

[51] This imitation may be in a very narrow set of aspects: we are not taught to imitate the life of the Good Thief, but rather his death. The point here is not that we must imitate every saint in all aspects of their lives: for a start, not every saint can be imitated in every state of life. Rather, the point is that a canonization makes a definitive statement about a wider set of facts than just the salvation of the individual.

[52] As established above, this command for universal veneration is largely covered by the precept to believe that they are worthy of veneration, and to observe their feast if included in the universal calendar, etc. It does not require everyone to have a personal devotion to the saint.

[53] Van Noort 118

[54] Hunter 310

[55] Van Noort, 109

[56] See also: Fr Jean-Michel Gleize: https://fsspx.news/en/content/23744 and https://fsspx.news/en/content/23757

Mr John Lane: http://strobertbellarmine.net/Archbishop_Lefebvre_and_the_Conciliar_Church.pdf

Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais (2013): http://www.dominicansavrille.us/is-there-a-conciliar-church/

Mr Louie Verrecchio: https://akacatholic.com/church-in-eclipse/

Consider also this interesting text from Fr Francis Owen Dudley: “A Mock Church […] We speak of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, a framework, a supernatural organism living by the life of Christ. Is it beyond the genius of Satan to build to himself a parallel kind of framework, an antithesis to the Mystical Body of Christ? There is a carefully planned framework to be found in freemasonry — a supreme pontiff, a hierarchy, a temple, ceremonial worship, degrees of initiation, festivals, a creed. This planned framework is an antithesis to God’s plan for His Church. It is a deliberate plan of worship. It is naturalism as opposed to supernaturalism.” Owen Francis Dudley, The Church Unconquerable, Australian Catholic Truth Society No. 709, 1936.

[57] Berry, 66.

[58] Berry, The Apocalypse of St. John, Columbus, OH: John W. Winterich, 1921, 135.

[59] Berry (1955), 87,

[60] Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Le Figaro, August 4, 1976. On the status of a doubtful pope, cf. the text from Wernz & Vidal, found here: https://akacatholic.com/the-traditionalist-and-the-pope-the-papacy-as-a-relation/

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