Are Blessed in Heaven?


I undestand that all persons in Heaven are Saints and that a canonized Saint is just a recognized person in Heaven by the Church.

Following this, the canonization process is some kind of empirical investigation to find evidence to conclude that X person is in Heaven (heroic life, miracles, martyrdom, etc.).

However, if this persons receive a “intermediate” titles like Servant of God and Blessed during the process, titles which cannot be removed (as far as I know), are this persons declared to be in Heaven, waiting a formal canonization? Or are these titles just a “strong maybe”?



Only canonization is a declaration that the person is in Heaven. The other titles do not mean that.



“Servant of God” just means that the person has an official sainthood cause open. The bishop or someone else with authority has to give permission to open the cause. An investigation is conducted and the evidence is sent to the Vatican (Congregation for Causes of the Saints). There’s no declaration on the person being in heaven yet.

After reviewing all the evidence, the Congregation can decide to name them “Venerable”, meaning they showed heroic virtue while on earth. Again this doesn’t say anything about the person being in heaven.

The next step, beatification/ naming someone “Blessed”, has been said to mean that it’s “worthy of belief” that the person is saved and in Heaven. Other definitions say it’s a declaration that the person is in Heaven.
It’s not an infallible statement because it comes from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints and not from the Pope. The purpose of this step was supposed to be to allow local dioceses to publicly venerate one of their own who had not yet become a full saint because the process takes so long. At this stage, the person can have a feast day designated for specific locations, such as his home diocese or where his order was located, but not universal public veneration.

The last step, canonization/ naming someone “Saint”, means that they are certainly in Heaven and they can have a universal feast and parishes named after them. Canonization adds a person to the canon of saints and is declared by the Pope under papal infallibility.

Here is an article discussing the differences between beatification and canonization in more detail. I agree there is a lot of confusion between the two depending on what source you read. I personally think it’s pretty safe to believe if a person makes it all the way to beatification, they are in Heaven. But at that stage, since it’s not an infallible statement, Catholics aren’t bound to believe it.



It is an infallible declaration by the Church which Catholics must believe.

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The Rite of Canonization by the Pope is an act protected from error by the Holy Spirit. It is an infallible declaration of a person’s sainthood.

I should mention that perhaps you are confusing this with infallibility of doctrines. Canonization is not a doctrinal issue but nevertheless when the Pope himself canonizes someone it is an infallible declaration.

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Did you not read my post above??

Let me repeat it.

The Rite of Canonization by the Pope is an act protected from error by the Holy Spirit. It is an infallible declaration of a person’s sainthood.

I should mention that perhaps you are confusing this with infallibility of doctrines. Canonization is not a doctrinal issue but nevertheless when the Pope himself canonizes someone it is an infallible declaration.

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Who are these influential persons?



Ex-Cathedra relates to doctrines. Canonization is not a doctrinal issue.

Who are these influential people. Are they as influential as St Thomas Aquinas?

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St Thomas Aquinas:

“Since the honor we pay the saints is in a certain sense a profession of faith, i.e., a belief in the glory of the saints, we must piously believe that in this matter also the judgment of the Church is not liable to error (Quodlib. IX, a. 16).”

I would consider him pretty influential.

I also wonder why you are trying so hard to show canonization is not an infallible declaration. Do you think the Church has been in error on this?



This one is good enough for me.

I realize there are people , including SSPX, who like to debate over whether canonization really falls in the category of infallible matters, but to me it seems overly picky. If you have a person who has made it all the way through a Vatican investigation and is responsible for miracles to boot, then quibbling over whether it’s “infallible” that they are in Heaven isn’t very credible, especially when we all generally believe that many people who are not canonized saints also make it to Heaven.

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The document I posted considers canonizations to be “dogmatic facts”

With regard to those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed, the following examples can be given: the legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff or of the celebration of an ecumenical council, the canonizations of saints ( dogmatic facts ),…

which fall under the second proposition of the Professio fidei

  1. The second proposition of the Professio fidei states: “I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.” The object taught by this formula includes all those teachings belonging to the dogmatic or moral area, 13 which are necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of faith, even if they have not been proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as formally revealed .

Such doctrines can be defined solemnly by the Roman Pontiff when he speaks ‘ex cathedra’ or by the College of Bishops gathered in council, or they can be taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Church as a “sententia definitive tenenda”. 14 Every believer, therefore, is required to give firm and definitive assent to these truths, based on faith in the Holy Spirit’s assistance to the Church’s Magisterium, and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium in these matters.15 Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine 16 and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church .

Therefore, canonizations are not on the same level as “apparitions like Fatima”. According to this document, if you reject a canonization, you’re not in communion with the Church.
Catholics are however free to not believe in apparitions, even those approved by the Vatican.

I note that the legitimacy of an election of the Pope is put in the same category, which means that certain groups that don’t accept the legitimacy of certain Popes also end up in the position of having to argue against canonizations being infallible, in view of this document.



The problem with someone looking for “solid Magisterial support” is that whatever document is shown to them, they usually find a reason why it isn’t “solid Magisterial support” because they are already convinced that their own opinion is right. I suspect that if you have read a lot of the debates already, you’re already aware of all the documents that are out there and probably aware of the sources that will be posted when the debate comes up.

Anyway, you’re entitled to your own opinion. God bless

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The Church has never formally issued a doctrinal statement on the subject. Kenneth Woodward’s book, Making Saints - which is (as far as I know) the only in depth-study of the “saint making” process, devotes several pages to discussing the question of infallibility. As he notes, strictly speaking, any infallibility only applies to what cannot be ascertained by human enquiry - namely, that the candidate is with God in heaven - and not the the saints life, virtues, or even the miracles attributed to them. According to Woodward, canon lawyers tend to think that canonisation is not an infallible act while theologians (and the “saint makers” at the congregation) think it is!

The debate is complicated by the fact that the process of canonisation was only systematised in 1634 - prior to that local bishops still retained a decree of control. Blessed pose further problems because beati are venerated in local liturgical calendars and, prior to 1634, beatification was separate from the canonisation procedure (being used for those venerated locally or only by religious orders).

Woodward’s book is a assassinating read and, if you’re really interested in not just the history but the mechanics and debates involved in declaring saints, you should get hold of a copy.



Catholic Encyclopedia

Theologians generally agree as to the fact of papal infallibility in this matter of canonization, but disagree as to the quality of certitude due to a papal decree in such matter.

Canonists and theologians generally deny the infallible character of decrees of beatification, whether formal or equivalent, since it is always a permission, not a command; while it leads to canonization, it is not the last step.

Beccari, C. (1907). Beatification and Canonization. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


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