Friday, August 13, 2021

Are Canonisations Infallible? A new book of discussions

I am a contributor to an important new book collecting essays on this topic: are Canonisations infallible?

Get it on Amazon: UK here; USA here.

I have mentioned the issue a couple of times on this blog: I am inclined to doubt it, for the simple reason that the kind of affirmation a canonisation implies, on the holiness and eternal fate of a particular historical personage, is not part of the deposit of Faith, and is not included among the things covered by the doctrine of infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council.

Canonisations have always involved historical research: reviewing the written works of the individual, interviewing witnesses, and so on. Such research can give us a strong reason for believing a conclusion about an historical fact, perhaps even one which goes beyond reasonable doubt, but such scholarly certainty is quite different from our attitude towards objects of Faith.

These very simple and I would have thought obvious points are resisted fiercely by some. This book sets out arguments on both sides of this important question.

From the Editor, Peter Kwasniewski:

All the arguments you’ve ever seen in favor of the infallibility of canonizations—and some you probably haven’t seen—are present here. Certain authors agree with them. Other authors argue for their inconclusiveness or incorrectness. It is a fair and full fight, which does not shy away from toppling “certainties” that have acquired weight only from parrotical repetition. Also an excellent introduction to the history of canonization, the changes made to the process, the nature and objects of papal infallibility (Gherardini’s contribution is especially impressive on this head). Those who uphold the majority view will find in this book some of the most powerful defenses of their position ever penned—while at the same time the case made against them is, to my mind, stronger still. Frankly, I don’t see how the defenders of the infallibility of canonizations have a leg left to stand on after this.

The chapters are arranged in a certain order: historical and doctrinal overviews (chapters 1–3), in-depth investigations by Thomists (4–7), a vigorous defense of the non-infallibility thesis (chapters 8–9), and specific concerns raised by more recent situations (10–15). That being said, the chapters do not have to be read in any particular order, and those who are looking for the fundamentals of the debate may wish to prioritize 2–3, 7–9, and 11.

Dr Kwasniewski writes more about it on Rorate Caeli.

Table of Contents

1 The Church Triumphant and

the Rules of Canonization Today: Jean-François Thomas, S.J. 

2 The Cult of Saints in the Catholic Church: José Antonio Ureta 

3 History and Role of the “Devil’s Advocate”: Phillip Campbell 

4 The Infallibility of Canonizations: A Revisionist History of the Arguments: William Matthew Diem 

5 Infallibility and Canonizations: A Disputation: Thomas Crean, O.P. 

6 A Reponse to Fr. Crean: William Matthew Diem 

7 Canonization and Infallibility: Msgr. Brunero Gherardini 

8 The Authority of Canonizations: John R.T. Lamont 

9 The Infallibility of Canonizations and the Morals of the Faithful: John R.T. Lamont 

10 Approaching the Subject of Canonization: with Careful Steps: Fr. John Hunwicke 

11 The Canonization Crisis: Christopher Ferrara 

12 True and False Saints in the Church: Roberto de Mattei 

13 On the Proposed Canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II: Roberto de Mattei 

14 Animadversions on the Canonization of Paul VI: Peter A. Kwasniewski 

15 Walking into a Trap: Joseph Shaw 

Get it on Amazon: UK here; USA here.

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