Are canonizations infallible?

Is the Pope infallible when he proclaims a new saint, extending their liturgical cult to the universal Church?

Many theologians – most in fact – believe he is and it is a commonly held and taught belief.

Vatican Insider discusses this with Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, a distinguished canonist and Adjunct Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura.

Is the Pope infallible when he proclaims a new saint?

“According to the prevailing doctrine of the Church, when the Pope canonizes a saint his judgment is infallible.

“As is known, canonization is the decree with which the Pope solemnly proclaims that the heavenly glory shines upon the Blessed and extends the cult of the new saint to the universal Church in a binding and definitive manner.

“There is no question then that canonization is an act carried out by the Petrine primate. At the same time, however, it should not be considered infallible according to the infallibility criteria set out in the First Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution “Pastor aeternus”.”

So, according to you, this means the Pope can make a mistake when he proclaims someone a saint?
“That’s not what I said. I am not denying that the decree issued for a canonization cause is definitive, so it would be rash and indeed unholy to state that the Pope can make a mistake.

“What I am saying, is that the proclamation of a person’s sainthood is not a truth of faith because it is not a dogmatic definition and is not directly or explicitly linked to a truth of faith or a moral truth contained in the revelation, but is only indirectly linked to this.

“It is no coincidence that neither the Code of Canon Law of 1917 nor the one currently in force, nor the Catechism of the Catholic Church present the Church’s doctrine regarding canonizations.” Continue reading


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