canonizing saints

Technorati Tags: ,
Question from wondering on 5/24/2008:

You said "A problem with saying, however, that a canonization is infallible is that infallibility extends to matters of faith and morals, that is, a doctrine that is part of the deposit of faith. Is the canonization of a particular individual part of the deposit of faith?"

In your expert opinion, is it a part of the deposit of faith?

You then said, "Also, in terms of the law, the canon requires that something be declared as 'definitive'. The actual papal decree canonizing the saint does not use the term 'definitive'."

In a quote from a decree of canonization you quoted "we declare and define Blessed So and So to be a Saint, and we inscribe his name in the catalogue of the Saints, ordaining that, throughout the universal Church, he be devoutly honored among the Saints". Does "define" or "ordaining" in this instance make it definitive?

What makes somethng a matter of faith?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 5/26/2008:

Revelation was complete with the death of the last apostle. So anything that comes up after that cannot be considered to be part of the deposit of faith. For example, the Church might approve an apparition, but the messages of the apparition cannot be considered as adding anything to the deposit of faith. Rather, the messages of the apparition must be measured against Revelation/the deposit of faith.

I am open to the possibility that a canonization is an exercise of infallible teaching office, along the lines of what you state about "defining" and "ordaining." However, I am not sure that it is clear.

There are different levels of authoritative teachings. Just because something is not an infallible teaching does not mean that it is a false teaching. If a diocesan bishop issues a statement on some local issue, that is an authoritative teaching, even if fairly low in the exercise of the Church's authority. On the high end of authoritative teaching would be a papal encyclical letter. However, even an encyclical letter does not necessarily mean that the letter is infallible teaching.

To see different levels of teachings, look at the various documents of Vatican II. There are dogmatic constitutions, pastoral constitutions, declarations, and decrees. By using these different labels for the various documents, the council makes it clear that there are different levels of authority being invoked. Certainly matters stated in a decree are more open to reform and greater precision in articulation than those matters stated in dogmatic constitutions.

So whether or not a canonization of a saint is an infallible teaching, it is certainly issued with a great deal of certainty, so I don't think that we have any reason to doubt what is being defined.

No comments:

Post a Comment