Are writings of the Saints infallible?


#1

I ask this since I have often seen so many writings of Saints contradict each other on many occasions.


#2

No, they are fallible like the rest of us in that particular regard.


#3

Genesis is correct. Saints are Saints because they live heroic lives of the faith, and often because they die in a heroic defense of their faith as well. They died in a state of grace, and are therefore now joined with God in heaven. Granted if they could come BACK to earth now that they’ve been granted eternal life and part in God’s kingdom (hence, understanding more of the divine) what they could write would almost certainly be infallible… but while they lived on earth they were just as prone to misunderstanding as we are.


#4

No, their writings are not infallible. Many of their writings are free from error, but saints are not protected by the charism of infallibility, as is the pope and magisterium. So, not all the writings of the saints are free from error.

Oftentimes, where the writings of saints contradict each other or Church teaching, you’ll find that they were speaking on things that, at the time, were not formally defined or fully developed by the Church. Thus, at the time they wrote, they were putting forth a perfectly viable opinion.


#5

Is “free from error” strictly used in terms of dogma, doctrine and Tradition?


#6

I was using the phrase “free from error” in more of an informal way. I can make the statement “2+2=4” and then say that my statement is free from error because it is. But that doesn’t mean I have the charism of infallibility in matters of math! :slight_smile:

Thus, many of the saints wrote certain things that are free from doctrinal or moral error. Not that they necessarily did so but, in retrospect, we can see that a specific writing of theirs is without error.

Does that make what I was saying any clearer? :o


#7

I am thinking about some of the more outrageous things - does free from error cover those as well?

Like a visionary is later made a saint - is every scrap of material about the vision(s) free from error outside of the issues of faith and morals?


#8

Have there been any saints writings (Faustina?) that the Pope has spoken infallibly about?


#9

I would say the answer to that would be “no”. The Church’s infallibility only applies the faith and morals, anyway, not to things like science. Is there a specific example you have in mind?


#10

I guess it depends on exactly what you mean.

Is there any pope that issues an infallible line-by-line commentary and affirmation of a particular saint’s written work? Not that I’m aware of.

But will a pope take an idea or a quote expressed by a saint in their writings and put it in an infallible document? Absolutely. It happens all the time. Just look at the footnotes in the Catechism (or any papal document for that matter). St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica is cited about 50 times in the Catechism. Does this mean the whole Summa is guaranteed to be free from error? Not necessarily. But those parts that are cited are.

Even books that are not from saints will have a nihil obstat indicating that the book is free from doctrinal and moral error. Of course, the nihil obstat is only as good as that diocese’s censor librorum, but that’s a whole separate topic!


#11

I think you answered my question. To be specific, the Divine Mercy. Does the pope have to speak infallibly to “validate” the Divine Mercy? Or did he, I guess? I’m not worried about it, I’m Catholic and am fine with it, just curious.


#12

I believe the church does not infallibly REQUIRE the Divine Mercy, but finds it to be without theological fault and therefore acceptable for Catholics to practice. Infallible statements are positive ones (affirms this to be true), whereas that is an inherently negative statement (this may not be required for belief, but it is not erroneous). Both are authorititative, however.


#13

Got it.


#14

The fact that the second Sunday of Easter was made to be “Divine Mercy Sunday”, is somewhat indicative of an affirmation by the Church. Of course, it’s not as though the mercy of God is some crazy new dogma, either. It’s what the Church has been relying on since the beginning! :slight_smile:


#15

welllllll… at the same time though, the institution of the divine mercy is NOT a mandatory item towards salvation that has been defined ex cathedra. IOW… a catholic could go his whole life without ever praying the divine mercy and could still be saved. The added benefits of the divine mercy are great, but it’s not required.


#16

The only infallible saints are those that were infallible when they wrote sacred scripture (St. Peter, St. Mark, St. Luke, St. John, St. Paul). But in general, no, all of the saints are assumed to be fallable unless a particular writing is pulled into the realm of infallible by the Pope in an official ex cathedra definition.

On the other hand we have quite a few saintly works that bear the Church’s Imprimatur signifying that the work does not violate any dogma or official teaching. It’s an official revocable declaration from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church (usually a Bishop) that a literary or similar work is free from error in matters of Roman Catholic doctrine and morals, and hence acceptable reading for faithful Roman Catholics.

Ironically some Bishops are not fully embracing Divine Mercy Sunday since it falls at the apex of the Octave Easter Season and some see that as conflicting with the importance of that traditional date. I have wondered if there is a little dissension in the Church over the Polish Pope JP II bringing this private revelation boldly into vogue from the traditions of The Polish Church and the Polish St. Faustina? I almost get the impression that some clergy are afraid to over promote Divine Mercy Sunday and convey the full message of how powerful the graces are out of concern it might take on a cult status and distract from other liturgy.

James


#17

The writings of certain of the early Catholic Saints are considered divinely inspired and inerrant. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John come immediately to mind.


#18

Are writings about visions etc considered infallible if the author is a saint?


#19

This is one of the real challenges to my faith and am working hard to research why the Church teaches what it does and why otheres disagree. I am looking for the truth. Some of the greatest fathers of the Church have not necessariy agreed. For example, didn’t Augustin teach more of the Lutheran belief of justification by faith while Aquinas taught basically what the Church teaches today? So in reality, the Church today would consider Augustin a heritic on some issues and faithful on others. To me, this just doens’t make a lot of sense. If fact, didn’t St. Peter and Paul differ on teaching related to justification by law as differenciated by faith?


#20

No. See above. For matters of private revelation, the church instructs what visions, revelations, etc, do NOT violate church dogma, doctrine, or teaching, but they do not affirm any private revelations as dogmatic teaching for the whole church.


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