Are we allowed to disagree with the canonization of a Saint?

Is this something that could be wrong on or under papal infallibility?

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Ludwig Ott, p. 299 has:

b) The secondary object of the Infallibility is truths of the Christian teaching on faith and morals, which are not formally revealed, but which are closely connected with the teaching of Revelation. (Sent. certa.)
The canonisation of saints, that is, the final judgement that a member of the Church has been assumed into eternal bliss and may be the object of general veneration. The veneration shown to the saints is, as St. Thomas teaches, " to a certain extent a confession of the faith, in which we believe in the glory of the saints" (Quodl. 9, 16). If the Church could err in her opinion, consequences would arise which would be incompatible with the sanctity of the Church.

Quodl. 9, 16 is Thomas Aquinas The Quodlibetal Questions


4. A Teaching pertaining to the Faith, i.e., theologically certain (sententia ad fidem pertinens, i.e., theologice certa) is a doctrine, on which the Teaching Authority of the Church has not yet finally pronounced, but whose truth is guaranteed by its intrinsic connection with the doctrine of revelation (theological conclusions).


No. Canonizations are protected by infallibility. A canonization pertains to a matter of faith (that a person is in heaven), and the traditional formulas say the Pope "decrees and defines a person as such.

Imagine the repercussions if the Church is wrong on that. A person in hell is canonized, gets inscribed in the martyrology, and elevated, as they say, to the honours of the altar, i.e. gets a Mass and an Office celebrated in honour and memory of such a person. Can you imagine the widespread sacrilege that would be worming its way through Church if that were the case?


The Commentary on the Profesio Fidei by the CDF lists canonizations as among those truths that, while not strictly revealed, are judged definitively and infallibly by the Church as necessarily tied to the deposit of faith. For such truths it says “Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine16 and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church.”

Also, during the canonization rite, this petition is made to the Pope:

“Most Holy Father, Holy Church, trusting in the Lord’s promise to send upon her the Spirit of Truth, who in every age keeps the Supreme Magisterium free from error, most earnestly beseeches Your Holiness to enroll these, her elect, among the saints.”

It should be noted that this only applies to whether the person is in Heaven not the facts of the person’s life, whether everything the person did was good (every saint is also a sinner to some degree), whether the miracles actually happened, etc.


Please explain what you mean by “disagree with”.


In the sense of I personally thought (before I knew it would conflict with the Catholic faith) that I wasnt sure a certain saint should be canonized

We all make mistakes. It is how we remedy that matters

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Out of curiosity, is it something in the writings of this particular saint (or saint-to-be) that you disagree with, or is it something in the life of the saint that you think demonstrates less than heroic virtue?

Many people (myself included) sometimes make the mistake of equating a saint’s writings with his or her life. I, for one, think that what I’ve read of St. Oscar Romero’s writings come uncomfortably close to what I understand to be liberation theology (I could, of course be wrong and I’m open to correction). But that doesn’t change the fact that he lived a life of heroic virtue, ultimately died a martyr, and therefore deserves the title of saint.

Remember that the Vatican tends to conduct an extremely thorough investigation, using many sources and resources, and all the information they gather and review is not available to all of us laypeople. The Church canonizes very few people and they make absolutely sure before they do so.

It’s okay if you simply don’t like a saint, though. There are saints who I personally dislike and wonder how they got canonized, but again, the Vatican has much more complete information than I do. The saints who don’t appeal to you probably are very dear to someone else.

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Thank God! I was afraid I was the only one! :rofl: :joy:


Once upon a time, I was not a fan of Pope John Paul II. I think he was too lenient on liturgical abuse in the Church and did not agree with his participation on inter-religious prayer gatherings.

On those I still disagree, but since his death and through his canonization, I have developed a great appreciation for his rich and magnificent Magisterium. It was under him that the Theology of the Body developed, his teachings on the family are unmatched and even his writings on Mary and the Eucharist are invaluable. He has contributed so much to modern Catholic thought, all within the confines of the traditional Catholic faith, such that we could all learn something from him. I’m happy he’s a Saint, despite my continued disagreement with some of his prudential and governance actions, and I want him declared a Doctor of the Church one day.

But most inspiring was his patient perseverance through his suffering due to Parkinson’s; this was for me heroic to the highest degree and a great witness to a world that now seeks to end suffering by killing people.


Isn’t there a position called the Devil’s Advocate who actually makes the case against the canonization of a candidate?

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There used to be. I think the Vatican did away with that in the last couple rounds of reform, relatively recently. I remember once reading part of an old novel called “The Devil’s Advocate” that was about a priest tasked with being the Devil’s Advocate in some case and he went to the prospective saint’s hometown and tried to dig up dirt on him.


In Dorothy Day’s biography of St Therese, Day speaks of her initial dislike of The Little Flower. Of course she went on to write the great biography.

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You could, but you’d be wrong. We need to accept this under Holy obedience.

If it’s because of something they did or didn’t do, their writings, sayings, etc. that’s another story. They were human beings and all had at least original sin. They could have been wrong on things and you may well have legitimate disagreements. Unless it’s in regards to writings that were made part of the Bible, or Pope saints on their infallible techings, you don’t have to accept it on faith.

St John Paul II eliminated the Devil’s Advocate, setting up a more collaborative process modeled on academia instead of a judicial process. The postulators who promote causes probably address all the accusations and complaints as well as the Devil’s Advocates used to.


If I remember correctly, Archbishop Fulton Sheen also had an initial dislike of St. Therese, then, of course, came to love her dearly.

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St. Therese’s autobiography was embellished by her sister (who was also her Mother Superior) after her death, in some effort to promote her sainthood cause. The changes and additions did not do her justice. I read the embellished version many years ago and thought she was silly and flowery. My mother, who had a devotion to St. Therese (which is why we had the book in the house, it had been a gift to my mom from her own mom), said I didn’t understand St. Therese and that she was nothing like I had described. I realize that now and also a revised edition of her autobiography has been published that reflects what she actually wrote.

Where can I find this revised and unembellished edition?

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It’s the John Clarke translation, sold on Amazon and at many Catholic bookstores.
It often is advertised as being from Therese’s original unaltered manuscript.

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