Is the Canonization of Saints an Act of Papal Infallibility?

God Bless you!

Thank you for your response and also for your exemplary erudition of the subject matter!  I really appreciate the time you took to respond!

First, thank you for reminding everyone that

Quote:A person isn't a heretic for saying the Pope isn't infallible in canonizations.  Most of that at the time would have been a prudent reprimand but unfortunately the "Saint Factory" and the post-conciliar era has done more to shake the confidence in canonizations than a needed clarification on just what level of certitude and protection the Pope has in canonizing saints.

Second, concerning your post previous to your last, where you wrote in part

Quote:We have implications of infallibility in the Scriptures and Proofs from Tradition going back to the earliest years.

This reference to both Sacred Scripture and Tradition to attest to Papal Infallibility got me to thinking of some specifics, most especially in regard to the Apostolic Tradition which the Apostolic Fathers and the Fathers of the Catholic Church have bequeathed to posterity.

According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, as I understand it, the general consensus is that Sacred Scripture is found to be correctly interpreted by the Apostolic Fathers and the Fathers of the Catholic Church?

This "general consensus" was later “codified”, so to speak, by the Roman Catholic Council of Trent:

“Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,--in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, --wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,--whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,--hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established.”  (Roman Catholic Council of Trent, Fourth Session, April 8, 1546, Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books).

A form for a Profession of Faith is mentioned in several places by the Roman Catholic Council of Trent in its Twenty-Fourth Session, November 11, 1563, Chapter I, The manner of proceeding to the creation of Bishops and Cardinals.  By whom the Profession of Faith is made is found in the Twenty-Fifth Session, December 3-4, 1563, Decree on Reformation, and Chapter II, By whom individually the Decrees of the Council are to be solemnly received; and by whom a Profession of Faith is to be made.  This includes Priests and Bishops who are required to take this Solemn Oath.

The Roman Catholic Pope, Pius IV, officially issued the required text to be used by everyone in making the required Profession of Faith in his Papal Bulla “Injunctum Nobis”, on November 13, 1564.

This text of the Profession of Faith was used up to around the time of Vatican 2 in the 1960's and, I suspect, in some places maybe even later than the 1960's?. It summarizes the doctrines which all Catholics are bound to believe in order to ensure their eternal salvation.  Since this is, in fact, an Oath, anyone who takes it and later violates it, commits the Mortal Sin of Perjury for so doing.

What is interesting in the context of Council Vatican I is where the text of this Oath says in part:

“ accept Sacred Scripture according to the meaning which has been held by Holy Mother the Church....I will never accept or interpret it in a manner different from the unanimous agreement [consensus] of the Fathers of the Church”  (Op. Cit.).

The obvious question arises as to whether or not the majority of the Bishops, the Council Fathers of Vatican I, violated this Oath (the Profession of Faith) because there is NOT the required “unanimous agreement [consensus] of the Fathers of the Church” in regard to the correct interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures concerning the subject of Papal Infallibility.  None of the Eastern Fathers of the Catholic Church interpret Sacred Scripture teaching Papal Primacy and Papal Infallibly.

(For the record, the 1917 Code of Canon Law also explicitly states in Canon 1406 those persons who must make the Profession of Faith.)

In other words, some of the histories of Vatican I indicate that there was no required “unanimous consensus” by the Council Fathers concerning Papal Infallibility. 

For example: 

The Archbishop of Paris, Georges Darboy, was very upset that the Council Fathers at Vatican I were treated as being totally irrelevant insofar as the Council itself was treated as being totally irrelevant.  How so?  After Vatican I, the Archbishop claimed that Pope Pius IX informed his Bishops, at the late Council, that they were not called to bear their testimony, but to hear his infallible decree, thereby “reducing us [i.e. the Bishops - the Council Fathers]  to a Council of Sacristans”.

Bishop Hefele, who had written “History of the Councils”, spoke with the strongest emphasis against Papal Infallibility.  Why?  Because he had studied Church History for thirty years and could not find anything to substantiate Papal Infallibility in the Catholic Church in ancient times.

Many other Roman Catholic Bishops were also against “Papal Infallibility” as an actual “dogma”.  “A Note to Pio Nono” was signed by over 220 anti-Ultramontanist Bishops, dated July 17, 1870, the day they left Rome in a body and the day before the public session for voting.

The principle of Father Saint Vincent of Lerins:  “Magnopere curandum est ut id teneamus quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est - Care must especially be had that that be held, which was believed everywhere, always, and by all”, a.k.a. the principle of the immutability of the Catholic Faith, was used to prove whether or not a “doctrine” was a “de facto” conviction of the Catholic Church which  is to be found in the original Deposit of Revealed Truth.

This said principle of the immutability of the Catholic Faith provides a conclusive demonstration as to whether or not any pious opinion, religious teaching, school of thought, etc. could, or even should, ever be raised to the dignity of a dogma of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church which was perfectly instituted by Jesus Christ.

It is only being consistent and logical that such a modus operandi be used “everywhere, always, and by all” to ascertain the Truth or Falsity of any proposed “dogma”, including Papal Infallibility.

Therefore, no one should automatically feel inclined to cast aspersions on any Church History which has been unable to find any case in favor of Papal Infallibility.

Please consider just a few facts which Church History has discovered.

1.  In the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, Church History has not found any Bishop who has ever ascribed dogmatic Infallibility to the Pope.

But the contrary is certainly true.  For example:

One Eastern Catholic Bishop expressed most strongly his contempt for the writings of the Popes where he wrote: “those insolent and puffed up Occidentals, who would only sanction false doctrine.”  This Saint goes on to say that he would not received their letters, i.e. the letters of the Popes, if they fell from Heaven.  He was provoked by the support given at Rome to the open Sabellianism of His Holiness, Pope Marcellus and the unsettling of the Antiochene Church (Catholicus Saint Basil, OPP. ed. Bened. iii. 301, EPP. 239 and 214).

2.  In the Western Rites of the Catholic Church, Church History does not find the doctrine of Papal Infallibility until the thirteenth century, and the reason why it is found even then is at least in large part due to the many forged documents on the subject of the Papal Primacy, and to some extent, Papal Infallibility.

3.  Well over 50 forged documents on the subject of the Papal Primacy, and to some extent, Papal Infallibility, are found in the West.  One of these forged documents, in and of itself, a virtual “mountain” of forgeries, is known as the infamous “False Decretals”, a.k.a. the “Forged Decretals”, a.k.a. the “Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals”, in which the forger tried to protect Bishops against their Metropolitans by an enormous extension of the Papal power. 

The “Forged Decretals” are a 9th Century collection of Papal letters and Canons of various Synods which were published in Gaul by Isidore Mercator, or Peccator.  The first part contains 60 letters attributed to early popes.  Of these 60 letters, 58 of them are forgeries.  The second part contains Canons of Synods.  The third part contains additional Papal letters, 30 of which are forgeries.  Up until the 17th Century, when they were clearly proven to be false, these Decretals were accepted as being genuine. 
One collection of the “Forged Decretals” was available on the internet (perhaps it still is?).  It is the one by Paul Hinschius “Decretales Pseudo-Isidorianæ et Capitula Angilramni” in 771 pages of text which is preceded by 238 pages of data, tables, etc., etc. 

IF one can tolerate the gross errors of words that are misspelled, not to mention the barbarous Latin grammatical constructions, one will find a totally different “world”, a.k.a. an “alternate reality”, which I understand is the term bantered around today, then it should be a cornucopia of fantasia for everyone?

Many, and perhaps even all, of the over 220 anti-Ultramontanist Bishops at Vatican I, were aware of this book of forgeries, and perhaps at least some of the other over 50 forged documents.  This book of 88 forged documents (the “Forged Decretals”), plus the other over 50 forged documents, adds up to at least 138 forged documents.

However, my own research has uncovered an additional unknown number of forged and/or interpolated documents which were manufactured by the “Gregorian Papal School of Forgers”.

4.  Church History records how, for well over the first thousand years of its existence, the Catholic Church toiled by painful, circuitous methods to secure what, if the Popes were indeed infallible, might have been gained in the quickest and most simple way, from but one utterance of but one solitary voice in Rome.

5.  To those who wish to argue the transference of infallible authority from the Catholic Church to the Pope, or if you prefer, to the Office of the Papacy, as a process of legitimate development, such a position is a clear contradiction of the ancient History of the Catholic Church for over the first thousand years.


What was the ancient doctrine of the Catholic Church for well over its first thousand years of existence?  Divine guidance is given to the Catholic Church collectively. It is the Church, per se, i.e. the Catholic Church as a whole, which cannot fall into error. But the Ultramontane theory reverses this ancient doctrine to its opposite because the NEW theory asserts that Divine guidance is given, not to the Catholic Church collectively, but rather to only one individual person and  that this Infallibility is his alone a prerogative in which the Collective Episcopate has no share and that it is from him alone that the Catholic Church receives both the Divine Light and the Divine Truth.

But is this “development”. No.  Why not?  Because it is a negation, i.e. a contradiction.

Please prayerfully consider for a moment how, among the Scripture passages to which the Infallibilist Bishops at Vatican I chiefly appealed was the exhortation by Christ to Saint Peter to strengthen his brethren. But this is an “exhortation”, not a “promise”. One of the Council Fathers remarked that “It is a violent perversion to turn an ‘admonition to duty’ into ‘a promise of the invariable fulfilment of that duty’”.

Still less can this “exhortation” be transferred as a “promise” to his successors, when it was only a “personal admonition”. It was, moreover, an exhortation which even Saint Peter himself failed to fulfill.  Why?

Remember how, far from strengthening the Catholic Church at Antioch in the Faith, Saint Peter instead perplexed it by his dissimulation. This Scripture explains why it was that when “Papal Infallibility” was proposed to the Roman Catholic Council of Trent, it was thereupon just as quickly withdrawn by the Papal Legates who had proposed it.  Why?

Because the Papal Legates recognized that a number of the Council Fathers (the Bishops) disapproved it.

However, since the days of the Roman Catholic Council of Trent, the influence of the Jesuits and of the Inquisition steadily extended “Papal Infallibility” by making the presentation of any other doctrine, contrary to “Papal Infallibility”, whether in books or in teaching, something that became virtually impossible in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Every attempt to test “Papal Infallibility” by historical criticism had been put upon the Index and suppressed, with the solitary exception of Bossuet and Cardinal de la Lu.

6.  When it was discovered in the manuscript of the “Liber Diurnus” that the Popes had for centuries condemned Pope Honorius I [625-638] in their “Profession of Faith,” Cardinal Don Giovanni Bona, the most eminent man in Rome, advised [sometime between the years 1669 and 1674] that the book should be suppressed if the difficulty could not be gotten over; and so it was suppressed accordingly.

7.  His Holiness, the Infallible Roman Catholic Pope Adrian VI, using his Infallible Ordinary Papal Magisterium, infallibly taught that several Roman Catholic Popes had been guilty of heresy:

“I consider that, if one equates the Church of Rome with her Head, that is with the Pope, it is correct to say that she can err, even in matters touching the Faith, by giving encouragement to heresy, in issuing certain  decrees, for example.  Several Roman Pontiffs [i.e. Popes] have in fact been guilty of heresy.” (Pope Adrian VI, Adrian Florensz [Monday, January 9, 1522 - Friday, September 14, 1523], “Quaest. In IV Sent.”.)

8.  It is very ironic what one finds in some Roman Catholic Catechisms BEFORE Council Vatican I with the Imprimatur.  For example:

“Question.  Are not Catholics bound to believe that the pope is in himself infallible?”
“Answer.  This is a Protestant invention, and is no article of Catholic belief.” (A Roman Catholic Catechism which was widely used and authorized in England and praised by Cardinal Manning’s own newspaper “The Tablet”.) 

There were a number of other Roman Catholic Catechisms BEFORE Council Vatican I, also with the Imprimatur, which had the same basic question and answer!

In summary, the majority of the Council Fathers at Vatican I either were not aware of these historical facts or otherwise ignored them.  Why?  Perhaps someone knows the actual answer to this question?  Thus far, this conundrum is a mystery to me.

I have tried to simplify as much of the above as possible.  But the “law of diminishing returns” invariably kicks in from time to time.

Thank you for reading!

God Bless You!

A Catholic Catholic
Easy answer: Yes, because the Pope speaks as the Vicar of Christ to the whole Church and makes the act for the whole Church. Beatification, no because it is not an act for the whole Church but only a segment of the Church. We'd have to look at each case to see how the act was accomplished because things are so watered down these days, but canonization does involve infallibility.

See this article:
(04-21-2011, 01:01 AM)Gerard Wrote: So a bunch of fallible theologians are going to infallibly declare what is infallible? 

Infallibility was defined at Vatican I as a negative charism.  It prevents error.

It is not a source of revelation.  Public revelation closed with the death of John the Apostle.

For a post-Apostolic canonization to be infallible it would de facto be a new revelation. 

Contrast that with the fact that the Assumption of Our Lady was a part of the revealed Revelation of the Church.  The infallible declaration was to preserve that revelation. 

I hadn't thought of it this way, but it makes a lot of sense. Canonizations aren't part of the Deposit of Faith, whereas every infallible declaration of the Church HAS been part of the Deposit of Faith (just not explicitly articulated AS infallible).

God Bless you. 

Thank you for your insightful answer, including:

Quote:We'd have to look at each case to see how the act was accomplished because things are so watered down these days, but canonization does involve infallibility.

Is what you are saying that the Canonization process by a Pope, albeit infallible, is not “ex cathedra”, but instead simply the usage of the Pope’s infallible Ordinary Magisterium which, according to Vatican I, as I understand it, applies to all official Papal Acts?

Such “official” Papal Acts apparently include, but are not limited to, every Bulla, Encyclical, Motu Proprio, Sermon, Homily (especially when the subject matter is a certain dogmatic doctrine), canonization of saints, etc.?

Is not at least part of the basis for this to be found in the text of Vatican I which ascribes an “ordinary and universal magisterium” to the Church since the text reads:

“7. And so faith in itself, even though it may not work through charity, is a gift of God, and its operation is a work belonging to the order of salvation, in that a person yields true obedience to God himself when he accepts and collaborates with his grace which he could have rejected. Wherefore, by divine and catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God as found in scripture and tradition, and which are proposed by the church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment [ex cathedra] or in her ordinary and universal magisterium.”  (Synod Vatican 1 [Wednesday, December 8, 1869 A.D. - Monday, July 18, 1870 A.D.], Session 3, April 24, 1870, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter 3. On Faith, ¶ 7).

If this is so, then canonizations by Popes are merely part of their “ordinary and universal magisterium” as the official head of the Church since “by HER solemn judgment [ex cathedra]” has NOT been officially/historically used by the Church since Vatican I, per se, but only by the Pope, specifically Pope Pius XII who defined the Assumption by an ex cathedra decree.

IF it is NOT the Church which defines dogmas by an ex cathedra decree, this means that either Vatican I should have the text read:

1)  “whether by the POPE’S solemn judgment [ex cathedra] or in the POPE’S ordinary and universal magisterium”...


2)  “whether by the CHURCH’S solemn judgment [ex cathedra] or in the CHURCH’S ordinary and universal magisterium” which seems to be the purport of the actual text by the usage of “whether by HER [i.e. by the CHURCH’S] solemn judgment [ex cathedra] or in HER [i.e. in the CHURCH’S] ordinary and universal magisterium” unless one goes off the deep end by interpreting HER as a FEMALE POPE instead of the church???!!!!

So the point is that IF it IS to be interpreted as “whether by the POPE’S solemn judgment [ex cathedra]” it must also logically follow that it must also be “ or in the POPE’S ordinary and universal magisterium” because Vatican I uses HER in both cases!!!???

To the best of my knowledge, the “ex cathedra” was used only one time during the 20th Century, and that on the dogma of the Assumption by Pope Pius XII, was it not?

But IF “infallibility” is required for canonization, then either there really are no canonized saints at all???, or, IF there are canonized saints, this would be because this was done in virtue of the fact that whichever Pope it was used HIS “infallible” “ordinary and universal magisterium” to canonize those people as saints whom he “infallibly canonized”???

See the point here?

It seems to me that the actual text of Vatican I is very defective because of its deliberate ambiguity which, after reading various histories of Vatican I, was absolutely necessary to have a very deliberately vague and ambiguous text - which could be “correctly interpreted” by each “political party of Bishops - Council Fathers” in order the get a majority of the Council Fathers of Vatican I to vote for it?

In other words, without this very deliberately vague and ambiguous text, there never would have been enough votes in favor of it.

IF one takes the actual text of Vatican I at face value, i.e. literally, in Session 3, April 24, 1870, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter 3. On Faith, ¶ 7, as quoted above, it is HER - the CHURCH - which has the exclusive usage of “ex cathedra” - not the POPE since the word “Pope” (or any word synonymous with “Pope”) is not even mentioned in this paragraph!

Remember, BEFORE we get to the text about “ex cathedra” and “ordinary and universal magisterium”, you find the text which says:

“...and which are proposed by the CHURCH [i.e. not by the Pope] as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by HER [WHO HER? - the text says: “The CHURCH”] solemn judgment [ex cathedra] or in HER [WHO HER? - the text says:  “The CHURCH”] ordinary and universal magisterium.”

In other words, the text explicitly says that it is the CHURCH [which apparently means the Church Universal - perhaps:

1) a General Council?
of the Church;
2) the Communio of the entire Episcopate?
of the Church;
3) ALL of the members of the Church Militant including ALL of the Clergy, Religious, and Laity?];

but not the Pope, per se - only the Pope insofar as he would be a part of the Communio of the entire Episcopate and also a member of the Church Militant.

Furthermore, IF one limits the text to its LITERAL usage, where it says “...and which are proposed by the CHURCH [i.e. not by the Pope] as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by HER [WHO HER? - the text says: “The CHURCH”] solemn judgment [ex cathedra] or in HER [WHO HER? - the text says:  “The CHURCH”] ordinary and universal magisterium”,

this would logically mean that it is the CHURCH - acting on its own, per se, i.e. without the Pope as such - and not the Pope - which is infallible, again since the actual text in the above quoted text in Session 3, April 24, 1870, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter 3. On Faith, ¶ 7, never explicitly mentions the “Pope”, the “Papacy”, the “Roman Pontiff”, etc., etc.

Is this a throwback to the Œcumenical Council of Constance which claimed superiority to the Pope???!!!  IF “NO” then why is the text worded in such a way as to give total superiority to the CHURCH per se?

Any ideas for all of these apparent contradictions other than the historical fact that the Council Fathers of Vatican I were otherwise unable to get even a majority to vote for this and similar texts?

God Bless You!

A Catholic Catholic

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