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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Francis’ Canonizations Are Not Infallible Featured

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Since the canonizations of John Paul II and John XIII took place, much ink has been spilled in Catholic circles over the question of whether canonizations are infallible. Unfortunately, every single argument I have read on this topic has missed the forest for the trees.

On March 28, 2014 I penned an article entitled, From the Devil’s Advocate: Will Saint John Paul Open the Door to Non-Catholic “Saints”? In that article, I made the following simple point:

Francis has set no restrictions. He has thus responded to my request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility. I think it is now imperative to use this new freedom to push ahead with the clarification of the dogmatic definitions, which are a ground for controversy within the Catholic church and in its relationship to the other Christian churches.

I could not have foreseen then quite how much new freedom Francis would open up in his post-synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Already in the introduction, he declares, "Not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium."

He takes issue with "cold bureaucratic morality" and does not want bishops to continue behaving as if they were "arbiters of grace." He sees the Eucharist not as a reward for the perfect but as "nourishment for the weak."

He repeatedly quotes statements made at the episcopal synod or from national bishops' conferences. Francis no longer wants to be the sole spokesman of the church.

This is the new spirit that I have always expected from the magisterium. I am fully convinced that in this new spirit a free, impartial and open-ended discussion of the infallibility dogma, this fateful key question of destiny for the Catholic church, will be possible.

I am deeply grateful to Francis for this new freedom and combine my heartfelt thanks with the expectation that the bishops and theologians will unreservedly adopt this new spirit and join in this task in accordance with the Scriptures and with our great church tradition.

Thus, if what Bishop Fellay says is true (and we have no serious reason to doubt it) all of the arguments of the neo-Catholics and sedevacantists as to why canonizations are infallible do not apply to Francis’ canonizations. For every one of their arguments, like all the arguments of the theologians before them, rest on the lynchpin that the pope himself believes his decree is infallible. Once this lynchpin is removed, their entire argument falls apart.

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