Beatification is an infallible Church declaration that a person is in heaven. But how do we know? The Vatican does investigations into a person’s life, but how do they know that the person secretly didn’t believe in God? Or died in a state of mortal sin?
What if we discover a document by a canonized saint that says he secretly didn’t believe in God? Wouldn’t the Church’s authority be compromised?
Canonization is an infallible Church declaration…i’m not quite sure of the status of beatification.
Anyways, as a trained high-school debater, I have inserted myself into the “time-place-set” that you have created, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the Church’s authority would indeed be compromised, so much so that every cathedral in the world would explode with the force of a nuclear (pronounced nu-ku-lar) bomb.
The Church takes a long time to investigate the Servant of God before canonization. Here are the NORMS TO BE OBSERVED IN INQUIRIES MADE BY BISHOPS IN THE CAUSES OF SAINTS from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints:
Considering this long, thorough process, it would be unlikely that any surprises would surface after the canonization. The cause cannot even be considered (in most cases) until the Servant of God has been dead for 5 years.
I can understand asking questions about the Church’s process of beatification and canonization of saints, which have been answered here many times, and with in depth articles you can read on the CA homepage. I cannot understand your title, why does this make you nervous?
Did you know that the whole point of the process of canonization is to determine that the person did indeed believe in God, and lived out their faith in an extraordinary way.
That’s why the Church investigates the person’s life and writings. That’s why they have a “devil’s advocate.” Yes, they really do assign someone, a “devils’ advocate,” to look for attitudes, actions, etc contrary to a life of holiness.
That’s why the Church requires a miracle, attributed to the intercession of the person. The point of requiring a miracle is, it shows that the person is indeed in heaven. After all, if the person was in hell, they would not be in a position to pray to God or intercede on our behalf.
You really should read up on the canonization process. It’s long and thorough. Not everyone who is proposed for sainthood makes it through the process.
You need to realize that the Church does not do ANTHING without having a firm foundation for doing it. The longer I study the teachings and practices of the Church, the more I realize that and trust everything the Church does. The Church is truly guided by the Holy Spirit.
Thanks for your response. If this is true, than why do many apologists say that the pope has only made a few infallible decrees? I don’t remember how many JPII canonized but it was probably well into the hundreds…maybe I am wrong on the numbers but he certainly canonized more than a few.
BTW, I am not trying to debate/argue, I am genuinely curious about this subject as it applies to infallibility.
Is the pope infallible in issuing a decree of canonization? Most theologians answer in the affirmative. . . St. Thomas says: “Since the honour we pay the saints is in a certain sense a profession of faith, i.e., a belief in the glory of the Saints [quâ sanctorum gloriam credimus] we must piously believe that in this matter also the judgment of the Church is not liable to error.” These words of St. Thomas, as is evident from the authorities just cited, all favouring a positive infallibility, have been interpreted by his school in favour of papal infallibility in the matter of canonization, and this interpretation is supported by several other passages in the same Quodlibet. This infallibility, however according to the holy doctor, is only a point of pious belief. . .
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. In the opinion of some it is of faith (Arriaga, De fide, disp. 9, p. 5, no 27); others hold that to refuse assent to such a judgment of the Holy See would be both impious and rash, . . . many more (and this is the general view) hold such a pronouncement to be theologically certain, not being of Divine Faith as its purport has not been immediately revealed, nor of ecclesiastical Faith as having thus far not been defined by the Church.
So, to answer your question of "Is the canonization process considered to be part of the infallibility of the church?"
Most theologians believe it is, but the Church has not defined it as such.
You asked " why do many apologists say that the pope has only made a few infallible decrees?"
Many of the teachings of the Church are infallible because they were defined by ecumenical councils or by the ordinary magisterium. But as far as ex cathedra pronouncements of the Pope, there are only two: the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and the Assumption of Mary in 1950.
The Church may decide in the future that a canonization does meet the criteria for an ex cathedra pronouncement. But at this time, it is still a matter of debate.
In my opinion (I’ve not read this elsewhere, so take this with a grain of salt), the infallibility of canonization is very different than the infallibility of ecumenical councils or of the pope speaking ex cathedra. The latter are infallible because they’re guarded by the Holy Spirit against error. The former is infallible because even if the Church were in error in canonizing a saint, by virtue of the fact that the Church canonized the saint, he or she would be granted immediate entrance into heaven: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” The saint cannot be absent from heaven after the Church has declared him or her to be in heaven because the Church, by making such a declaration, puts the saint in heaven if he or she were not there already.
The Church does have the power to bind and loose, but I don’t think she is claiming to be putting anyone in heaven. She is only declaring and defining what God has already done. That is why the Church is so careful to investigate the causes through witnesses and miracles.
When a Pope canonizes a saint, It does sound like an infallible declaration. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, most Catholic theologians believe it is.
For the honour of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the fostering of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayers for the divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of our Brother Bishops, we declare and define that Bl. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, is a saint and we enrol her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated in the whole Church as one of the saints. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".
With these solemn words pronounced in Latin on Sunday, 11 October, Pope John Paul II canonized St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, a Jewish philosopher, convert to the Catholic faith, Carmelite nun and martyr at Auschwitz. The canonization took place during a solemn concelebrated Mass in St Peter’s Square.