Imprimaturs on writings that would today be heretical

As I understand it, Thomas Aquinas and Catherine of Siena both didn’t believe in the Immaculate Conception.

If a book were printed today of those two saints’ writings on the topic, could it hold an imprimatur considering that what they teach is in error? Is there an allowance made for a teaching that was, at the time, made in good faith?

Since the dogma had not been defined at the time, they were not really wrong in expressing their own beliefs. Their works are therefore not heretical, and an imprimatur for the century in which they wrote is appropriate, especially since their writings encompassed a tremendous volume of teaching. .

I do not believe that is correct. Could you please cite a primary source for that contention?

Aquinas rejected the Immaculate Conception. He argued that Mary was purified at some point after conception, but before birth like John the Baptist. It is in the Summa.

Saints Bernard and Bonaventure also didn’t believe it.

In fact, if I remember right, this was an ongoing rivalry between the Augustinians and the Dominicans, the Augustinians lobbying for it taking after Saint Augustine, and the Dominicans lobbying against it taking after Aquinas and Catherine.

It doesn’t matter anymore, of course, since the issue was settled so long ago,

However, the Summa Theologica (from whence came Jimmy’s link) is still in print, and bears an imprimatur (this edition has two).

For some reason, upload picture isn’t working for me - here’s a link to the imprint page:

Remember, neither Saint’s writings are considered part of Scripture, and therefore inerrant. They can contain error.

Remember also that in the time of these saints, reproductive biology was not understood at the level it is today. The idea, for example, and it was always given as an idea and not dogma or doctrinal truth, of "ensoulment’ relates to the fact that in a woman’s pregnancy, she did not start to ‘show’ or the child to move and be felt (quickening) for some months beyond conception. The idea that a man’s sperm and a woman’s ova were involved was imperfectly understood. Therefore, if St Thomas or St Catherine believed that Mary was born immaculately and made sinless at quickening, to them that WAS the point that a soul came into existence, therefore it was analogous to our understanding of life beginning at conception.

Therefore, there is no heresy involved, Neither Saint was teaching or claiming something that went against dogma or doctrine as it was understood at the time. With greater scientific knowledge, they would have certainly concurred with the Church’s deepening understanding of life beginning at conception, and would have written it as such.

An imprimatur simply means “Let it be printed”. Most any bishop would probably have a hard time not letting be printed the writing of a saint. :slight_smile:

Thank you for the correction.

Yours in Christ.

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