Decanonization of saints?

So I was talking with my dad (southern Baptist) about popes and saints. He then says something how one time the catholic church “decanonized” around 30 saints. He’s not sure where he heard this but he then said “what humans can give you they can take it away.” This seems to be in an attempt to make the catholic church look like they made a mistake and that it’s not infallibly protected. Has anyone heard of this? I was under the impression that no one could undo the canonization of a saint. That this was the church saying definitively that certain people are in heaven and worthy of us calling for intercession. Also he mentioned that a St. Christopher was decanonized. I looked him up on Wikipedia and didn’t see anything talking about him being decanonized or a removal of his sainthood. Can someone shed some light on this? Oh and also can someone explain the difference of using the term saints to refer to us here on Earth and for those in heaven? Why is it sometimes used for us on earth? Thanks.

I do not know specifically what he is referring to, but I do know that sometimes “saints” are really just legends, such as St. Wilgefortis who was thought by some Catholics in the middle ages to be a bearded female who was crucified, but the misunderstanding arose from Eastern depictions of Jesus on the cross wearing a tunic that looked like a dress to Europeans. Wikipedia says the “cult was suppressed” in 1969, which perhaps could be interpreted by your father as “decanonization.” I assume these other “decanonizations” are similar cases, where the saint ends up being a legend who was never canonized in the first place. Canonization is an infallible act and cannot be undone, as it would imply that someone certainly in heaven is no longer there, which is impossible. I think someone else could better answer your second question regarding the usage of the word saint, but it is my understanding that words sometimes have more than one definition.

How is canonisation an infallible act?

Canonization is an infallible act, because the Church declares one to be in Heaven. If that person is there he is for all eternity, so no decanonization, and if he’s not there, then the Church made a mistake, but the Church can make mistakes. How would you feel praying to a soul in Hell for intercession? Canonizations must be infallible, or they would loose their purpose.

The Church didn’t decanonize saints. In the old days, in the first centuries, the Church didn’t had a habit of canonizing persons, until later in history. She knew ie the martyrs are in Heaven and didn’t feel the need to proclaim this in an official way, but it kept them in the Martyrologium, writings of the martyrs and their legends. The people were the one’s to declare saints. Did you know that the apostles were never declared saints by the Church? Or the Church Fathers? You will never find a date of the canonization of St Augustine, for example. Or St Jerome, St Ambrose, and of many others from that period. They were declared saints by the people, who saw their sainthood in life. Now about all these people, including the apostles, we have written accounts of them and by them, and are sure of their sainthood, as well of the accuracy of their lives. But, there are saints who slipped in the Calendar only because of some folk tales, though true in origin, some details were too distorted to say for sure who a person was. In anyways, the Church didn’t decanonize them, just removed them from the Calendar, for there were already too many of them in it. She, the Church, decided it’s time to trim the tree a bit. The Calendar was trimmed, some of the saints’ holidays were demoted form an obligatory memoria to a facultativ memoria. They can still be celebrated, but it’s not mandatory. The Church never decanonized anybody, because she can’t, she literally does not have the power to do this. Only to canonize. Decanonizing someone is the same to declaring one in Hell, which is not the concern of her. God bless!

I wonder if he is referring to the changes to the universal calendar in the 1960s.

I’ve had people say this to me too, and what they were referring to were these changes and making an assumption that because they were no longer on the calendar that some how they had been de-canonised.

Some saint’s days were removed from the calendar of feast days in the 1960s because there were too many of them.

The most often (wrongly) cited one is St Christopher because he is the most well-known of those that were removed from the calendar.

It doesn’t mean they are no longer saints, it just means that their feast days became a local or personal matter of observance rather than being a world-wide feast day.

This is most likely what the father is referring to. St. Christopher and the others are still saints, and that will never change. Just their feast days are not celebrated throughout the whole Church. 2,000 years of saints starts to clog up the calendar.

And it is the responsibility of the one making the claim to give support.

We’re all supposed to be Saints in the making. As Patrick Coffin says, “Be a Saint, what else is there?” Canonized Saints are declared so, “Infallibly” That can never be undone!. Many “Saints” were declared so by popular vote or popular legend and no sure information was found on them. St. Christopher was removed from the Church calendar but not as a Saint. The Church Calendar can only hold sooo many Saints and some were changed but not un-sainted! God Bless, Memaw

The old Catholic Encyclopedia says that it is still debated on whether canonizations are infallible. I think they are though

Ok so I informed him that he may have been thinking about the saints being dropped from the calendar and I explained that when we canonize a saint we’re claiming that someone is in heaven and therefore he’s there for eternity and can’t go out of heaven. Then he said that if Satan can walk through heaven then he could’ve taken someone which would defeat what I said about people being in heaven forever. I was quite shocked to hear this because I’m pretty sure the southern Baptist church would not hold to such an idea. There’s no way he’s learning this in Sunday school. He then brings out his bible and goes to Job chapter 1 verse 6-7 which says “Now on a certain day, when the sons of God came to stand before the Lord, Satan also was present among them. And the Lord said to him: whence comest thou? And he answered and said: I have gone round about the earth, and walked through it.” He claims that Satan is in heaven in this passage and as proof due to Satan after God asks him where he came from, Satan answers he was on earth. I then said to him but the bible says that nothing unclean shall enter heaven. My dad then replied that there are contradictions in the bible.

At this point my brain melted. So apparently my dad believes that Satan can enter heaven and that the bible which I’m sure he holds as the sole rule of faith and as inspired by God can have contradictions. Can anyone shed light on this passage and how to convince him that Satan was not in heaven and can you supply me with passages showing that once we’re in heaven we can’t be taken away? And how can I explain to him that the bible can’t and doesn’t have contradictions?

Canonization of a Saint is definitely Infallible. Several miracles have to be proven before a Canonization takes place and it can only be done by the Pope. I doubt your Dad is going to believe anything you say, I would pray for him and maybe leave some catholic books, literature etc. around where he can see it. I had a brother-in-law that had stopped practicing his faith for many years and he came to visit one summer and I had a book laying on my coffee table and he started looking at it and then reading it and then he came in and said, “I’d like to have a copy of this book, where can I get one?” I think I need to start going back to Church." has lots if good information. God Bless, Memaw

Let’s look at this in context.
"Job 1: [6] Now on a certain day when the sons of God came to stand before the Lord, Satan also was present among them. [7] And the Lord said to him: Whence comest thou? And he answered and said: I have gone round about the earth, and walked through it. [8] And the Lord said to him: Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a simple and upright man, and fearing God, and avoiding evil? [9] And Satan answering, said: Doth Job fear God in vain? [10] Hast not thou made a fence for him, and his house, and all his substance round about, blessed the works of his hands, and his possession hath increased on the earth?

[11] But stretch forth thy hand a little, and touch all that he hath, and see if he blesseth thee not to thy face. [12] Then the Lord said to Satan: Behold, all that he hath is in thy hand: only put not forth thy hand upon his person. And Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord."Does this text say anything about them being in Heaven, at all? No, it doesn’t. When we go into a church to pray and worship God, do we consider ourselves to be ‘standing in front of the Lord’? Yes, we do. That’s what’s being talked about in this passage. The phrase, ‘The sons of God’, usually a refers to the angels, or to the holy men of God (faithful church goers). It’s completely feasible that this was a scene where holy men, including Job, had gathered together (on earth) to worship God, like in a synagogue or maybe someone’s house. It’s not hard to imagine that Satan would also be present, to instigate doubts or other sinful thoughts to enter their minds while they pray. That’s why God asks him where he came from, or why he’s there. Then, he says that he wants permission to test Job’s faith in God, because up to that point he wasn’t allowed to do so; and God says, yes.

Also he didn’t bring this up but I looked up other protestants using this vs as Satan being in heaven

"And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: hI saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. 19 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ 21 And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be ia lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ 2 chronicles 18:18-21

The Church has never “decanonized” anyone. There is no mechanism to do this.

In the first millennium of the Church, there was no formal process defined for canonization. Local Bishops “canonized” local persons. Some of these “saints” might have even been legends or parables. It would be like “canonizing” the Good Samaritan. The first Saint who was canonized by a Pope in a manner consistent with present-day practice was Saint Udalric, Bishop of Augsburg, by Pope John-15 in 993.

Recognized Saints before 993 were “grandfathered in.” But there are thousands of Saints, and only 365 days in a year. Some of these early (and later) Saints have been removed from the liturgical calendar. This happens from time to time. It is NOT the same thing as “decanonizing” them (because there is no such thing).

I went ahead and made a new thread for the new question about Satan entering heaven and snatching humans

does satan have access to heaven and able to take souls from there?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit