David Gibson and Papal Saints

I had not heard of David Gibson before this artice from the New York Times (“Pope Quiz: Is Every Pontiff a Saint?”) turned up on my iGoogle page. I discover that he has been a regular blogger on Beliefnet and is now at PolticsDaily.com. He has also written a book on Pope Benedict (has anyone read it?) and once worked for Vatican Radio. Interestingly, he is a convert to Catholicism. His profile at Politics Daily tells us that this came about due to “a longer-than-expected sojourn in Rome in the 1980s”, and is currently writing a book about conversion. You can watch him in a short video interview about Pope Benedict here. He seems to admire Benedict, and has described him (in a blog entry on the new look of L’Osservatore Romano) saying that

Pope Benedict isn’t quite the stick-in-the-mud that many people think. Yes, he’s an 82-year-old German theology professor who plays classical music on his baby grand and doesn’t know how to work a computer. But he also knows that as pope he needs to reach out to everyone, especially young people, and he’s willing to let others who know popular culture better than he engage youth on their own terrain.

So he seems friendly to the Papacy, even if not given to hagiography. That attitude relates to the NYT article refered to above, which asks the question “Should any pope be made a saint?” He writes:

The church counts less than a third of all 264 dead popes as saints, and most were canonized by popular acclaim in the first centuries of Christianity, often because they were martyrs. Only five were canonized in the entire second millennium, and when Pius X, who died in 1914, was made a saint in 1954 — by Pius XII — he was the first pope so honored in nearly 400 years.

Now nearly every recent pope is on the canonization track. John Paul II beatified Pius IX, the 19th-century pope who is a polarizing figure because of his belief in the power of the papacy and his views on Judaism. But like Benedict, John Paul did a little ticket-balancing. He simultaneously beatified the popular John XXIII, who convened the liberalizing Second Vatican Council in 1962. The canonization process for Paul VI, who followed John XXIII, is underway, and there is a campaign to beatify John Paul I, who reigned a mere 33 days before his death in 1978.

His verdict is that the pope is elected to be

a leader to govern the church. As the German theologian Karl Rahner put it, if a pope turns out to be a wonderful Christian, that’s “a happy coincidence.”

A priest once commented to me that perhaps the reason why such a large proportion of the modern popes have been acclaimed saints in comparison with their predecessors is precisely that once upon a time popes were elected not so much to “govern the Church” as to govern the Papal States, and that the loss of this temporal authority has in fact freed up the papacy to serve its spiritual purpose – and therefore been much more fertile ground for sanctity. An interesting observation, when one considers just how few of the popes who were also governors of the Papal States were ever acclaimed as saints.

In any case, it really isn’t up to us to decide who is and who is not acclaimed a saint. The canonisation process aside (which admittedly is an expensive and time consuming one, meaning that any candidate needs a good backer from the word go to get up and running) the ultimate conclusion regarding an individual’s sainthood is placed in the hands of God (hence the requirement for attested miracles). It is the Church’s job to recognise saints, not make them. If in recent times our popes have also been saints, well, that’s a blessing that we recognise and for which we give thanks to God.

I agree with Gibson that we should avoid the automatic assumption that just because someone is pope he is also a saint. But one can forgive people for wanting to think that this or the other of deceased pope was a saint, and wanting to have the canonisation process begun in order to test this conviction. There is nothing at all to say that Pius XII, for instance, will ever get beyond the “venerable” stage, nor is there anything to say that even Pope John Paul II will prove to be a saint. What we really need to guard against is the assumption that everyone whose cause is being considered by the Congregation for Causes of Saints will automatically become a saint eventually.

I for one believe that it is far more important that we recognise Pope John Paul II – and one day his successor gloriously reigning – a “Doctor of the Church”. Personally, I think there would be much benefit in the Church altering the rule that in order to be proclaimed a “Doctor of the Church”, they first have to be canonised. I don’t see the necessary connection between sainthood and right teaching. It appears to me quite possible that a Christian theologian may have been a great, influential, right and dependable teacher of the faith and yet not have attained full sanctity at the time of their death. Thus, it seems more important to me that Newman and, one day, Ratzinger are recognised as Doctors of the Church than that they are recognised as saints. The former is something that we can judge – the latter is up to God.

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83 responses to “David Gibson and Papal Saints

  1. Kiran

    Personally, I think there would be much benefit in the Church altering the rule that in order to be proclaimed a “Doctor of the Church”, they first have to be canonised. I don’t see the necessary connection between sainthood and right teaching. It appears to me quite possible that a Christian theologian may have been a great, influential, right and dependable teacher of the faith and yet not have attained full sanctity at the time of their death.

    Not necessarily. Or rather that is a very western thing to say, in the bad sense of the word. Preaching Christ comes out of bearing Christ. Also, a saint hasn’t necessarily attained full sanctity at their time of death. Except for martyrs (and those who die in a perfect state of Grace), we do not know if people ever avoid purgatory.

    Further, it is not a miracle that is a sine qua non of someone being canonized. It is the existence of a cult, which evidently has some basis in their holiness of life. (Thus, for instance, Archbishop Polding hasn’t been canonized.) The problem is that we can’t finally make either statement on our own – that someone’s teaching is dependable or that they died as saints. Both come from God via the Church.

  2. Kiran

    The only exceptions I can think of for the rule (uncanonized doctors of the Church) are Origen, Tertullian and (Bl.) Duns Scotus. In each case, there is a serious doubt as to the reliability of their teaching.

  3. Christine

    David, don’t get too excited about Gibson until you’ve read:

    The Coming Catholic Church

    How the Faithful Are Shaping a New American
    Catholicism

    “The Coming Catholic Church” presents a startlingly clear-eyed look at the impact of the sexual abuse scandals on the Catholic Church and how they have set off a revolution from below that is galvanizing North America’s rank-and-file Catholics to bring positive changes to their Church. The Catholic Church is at a crossroad. People on all sides are demanding change, but few are sure how that change can happen. Recent history suggests a powerful minority will block any reforms. In this sweeping assessment of where the Church has been, and where it is going, David Gibson uses his insider’s knowledge and sources to reveal the forces that are already transforming Catholicis–from the laity to the besieged priesthood to the papacy itself. The Catholic Church is always changing, but today the need for immediate reforms is more urgent than ever as Catholicism seeks to remain vital to American life and faithful to its authentic mission of following Jesus. This book is an expression of the heartfelt feelings and aspirations of all Catholics, from the people in the pew to the priests in the pulpit, as they struggle to renew their faith and their Church.

    Let’s just say he probably belongs to the progressive camp.

    Christine

  4. matthias

    i recently had a nun tell me that the Church has been lucky with the most recent Popes that they have all been god men. Then she said “unlike those of 150-200 years ago” She made the point that largely being Italian at this time ,it contributed to a view of the world that was at odds with the larger Church and said that it was this Italian-centricity that contributed to the Reformation. I believe that some writers have lamented the fact that Reginald Pole-the ‘real’ one-, lost the Papal election and if he had indeed won, the Reformation may not have occurred as he would have reformed the Church . Perhaps someone else far greater in intellect can put me aright if I am wrong

    • Kiran

      Well, I am not sure. He was certainly more moderate on the issue of Grace, free will, and works than the man who did win. But By the time of the election, the Reformation was already in full force. It is arguable that he would have been better than Julius III.

      What seems more likely is that if Adrian VI had survived for a while longer, and had not been succeeded by Clement VII, and political necessities had not dictated otherwise, the reformation might have been shorter. Again, I might be biased, but if Queen Mary had had a child, the reformation in England would probably have died down. All of this, of course, is conjecture…

      But that said, I wouldn’t bag, like that, all the Popes before Bl. Pius IX. Pius VII Benedict XIV, Innocent XI, Alexander VIII, Clement XI, all I think could be considered good popes. Benedict XIV must figure in any list of the great Popes.

      Keep in mind, for all that can be said about Italians, in many ways, they were, as a group, more cosmopolitan than those from the rest of the world. All of this is not to say, of course, that Italians are necessarily good Popes, just that if they are bad popes, it is not because they are not from France or Germany or England.

    • “some writers have lamented the fact that Reginald Pole-the ‘real’ one-, lost the Papal election and if he had indeed won, the Reformation may not have occurred as he would have reformed the Church .”

      Two points:

      1. Although not elected Pope, nevertheless Pole had a strong influence on the Counter-Reformation in Europe; see the last chapter of Prof. Eamon Duffy’s recent Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor.

      2. Pole renounced any errors which he might have held regarding justification even before the promulgation of the relevant Tridentine decree, which (promulgation) was itself before the 1549-1550 conclave in which Pole was a leading contender.

      So I would not expect the course of the Counter-Reformation, whether with respect to doctrinal or pastoral matters, to have gone significantly differently under a Pole Papacy.

      • Kiran

        Nobody is saying that error would have furthered unity, CP, just emphasis. It is arguable that Pole’s emphases, as evident in England, would on a larger scale, have had a different effect, but I don’t think it to be the case. I think other things were at work there. It might offend certain people here, but I think it is at least a good historical thesis, that quite a lot of the reformation, for better or for worse had to do with the secular power and its ambitions.

        Keep in mind that St. Pius V became Pope after this. The Reformation wasn’t just about Justification, Grace and Free will. Trent on Justification is the best statement on the topic, and I can’t see how anyone can go any further in allaying Protestant concerns, and still be true to the Faith as was received. As, of course, it ought to be.

        • Adrian VI and Pope Pole. Two “might have beens” that were’nt.

        • “quite a lot of the reformation, for better or for worse had to do with the secular power and its ambitions.”

          Agreed.

        • One last thing on this sub-thread: Kiran, you noted that

          “The Reformation wasn’t just about Justification, Grace and Free will.”

          True, of course, but the reason why that was the only point which I raised is because that is the only point on which Pole is reputed to have been (purely materially, and not for long) heterodox; he held, among other things, the true doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, and was one of the few contemporary Englishmen (of whom we know, at least) who understand the true meaning of Scripture’s Petrine passages. I recently read Prof. Duffy’s Fires of Faith (as one would have gleaned from my earlier comment) and was amazed at how profoundly and consistently, and from how early in his life, a Papalist (a term which I don’t use in any derogatory sense) he was.

          • “the reason why that was the only point” … of doctrine, I should say.

          • Correction: change

            “who understand the”

            to

            “who understood the”

            • Kiran

              So did I read (though only part of the way unsurprisingly at this juncture of my life) that book! Was it not good! And yes, it does give a much more balanced picture of Pole than does some earlier scholarship

              Yes. I could see that. But that sentence of mine was directed at the original question.

  5. Cherub

    Dear David

    You say: “Thus, it seems more important to me that Newman and, one day, Ratzinger are recognised as Doctors of the Church than that they are recognised as saints. The former is something that we can judge – the latter is up to God.”

    I could not agree less. The recognition of Saints with a capital ‘S’ is a matter for the Church. ‘Whatever you bind on earth …” Yes, it is up to God and God guides His Church as He has promised us. The Church can both proclaim who are the Saints (with a capital ‘S’) AND who is a doctor of the Church. I concur with Kiran when he says: ” Preaching Christ comes out of bearing Christ.”

  6. PM

    I don’t claim to be an authority on modern Italy, but I’m told by those who are that the former papal states are often the most anti-clerical parts of Italy – which bears out David’s point.

  7. Kyle

    No; a doctor of the Church must be a saint for a very practical reason. Good theology is not just concerned with the accumulation of knowledge; good theology is firmly orientated toward sanctity. So we do not just value St Augustine because of his knowledge or because his teachings are so foundational to Christian doctrine; we value his teachings because they enabled him to become a saint, because they led him to goodness and to a praiseworthy devotion to God. So, the reasoning goes, if we learn his teachings and try to understand his theology, we too might become a saint (ignoring the obvious point that grace is essential too.)

    There are lots of professional theologians who have made substantial contributions to the intellectual life of the Church and whose works will continue to be treasures to the Church. I do not see the point, however, of promoting these theologians to the dignity of ‘Doctor of the Church’, a title which means that all Catholics should read their works, if their works did not lead them to sanctity.

    • Kiran

      I agree but with a minor modification. The decree doesn’t mean all Catholics should read their works, nor even that everything in their works is right, only that the major part of their works can be profitably read. They are recommended reading, if you like.

      Particular Doctors suit particular people. Not everyone, for instance, would find a reading of St. Alphonsus profitable. Nor, for instance, despite his being a Doctor of the Church, is St. Robert Bellarmine’s bizarre ideas about Papal deposition recommended. I might be revealing some of my own prejudices here, but all of these make sense, since the doctors, even though they had an intimate relationship with God, were still human and prone to predilections and the influence of their times, and moreover disagreed with each other. One cannot at the same time, here down below, be both a Thomist and a Bonaventuran, for instance, or a Thomist and a Suarezian.

      • Kyle

        Granted. The point I was making is that a Doctor of the Church isn’t just, or even, a professional theologian. If a theologian happens to be very intelligent and make an outstanding contribution to a theologian discipline, then let the academies remember him. If, however, that theologian is saintly and his works may be useful not just to academics but to all Christians, then call him a Doctor of the Church.

        I think your modification works. I didn’t mean to say ‘all Catholics should read their work’. I meant that all Catholics should find their works (or, as you say, a major part) profitable.

  8. Sharon

    St Edith Stein is a Doctor of the Church but I have never read of any quoting from anything she has written. Why was she made a doctor of the Church?

    • Kyle

      She isn’t. St Teresa of Avila and St Therese of Lisieux are doctors of the Church however. Along with St John of the Cross, they are the only Carmelite doctors.

  9. Peregrinus

    I don’t want to be cynical but, given the formalised and substantial nature of the canonisation procedure in recent centuries, whether people get canonised has a lot to do with whether there are organised and well-resourced groups prepared to drive the canonisation process. Hence the extraordinarily high proportion of religious who are canonised – their orders back them. This isn’t just a clerical/lay thing (though it’s that as well); it’s actually a religious clergy/secular clergy thing too. If you want to be canonised, joining a religious order is a good first step.

    So Popes tended not to get canonised because there weren’t significant groups with an interest in their canonisation. As David rightly notes, they were political/administrative figures more (in practice) than teaching figures. Even those who were members of religious orders aren’t generally remembered for the contribution they made to the apostolate of their order. And they lived a very formalised and controlled life in which there wasn’t much room for conspicuous personal sanctity, like becoming a mystic or a hermit or living among the lepers, or whatever. They may of course have been personally saintly, but quiet personal sanctity doesn’t get you canonised.

    So what’s changed in modern times? Have popes become more saintly? It would be uncharitable to say “no”, but I am inclined to look to other factors first.

    1. With modern communications (and here I mean from the nineteenth century onwards) popes’ can exercise their teaching role in a much more direct and visible way. A pope’s talents (or lack of them) in this regard are much more easily seen.

    2. With the increasing centralisation of the church (over the same period) popes are much more significant figures generally, directly affecting a lot more people, things and events. They get to make a bigger impact through their actions as well as their teachings.

    3. There’s a rise in movements within the church which are [i]not[/i] structured as, or led by, religious orders. I’m thinking not just of formal movements like Opus Dei, Sant’ Egidio, Communione & Liberazione, etc, but also – and perhaps even more so – less structured ones like the protagonists (on both sides) in the church’s culture wars. It may be that some at least of these movements seek to advance their agenda or influence through championing a canonisation cause, and they’re likely to choose a figure already well-known – like a pope – who is associated with their particular views or ideas. I can’t avoid a suspicion that the enthusiasm some people have for canonising Pope John Paul II now, immediately, straight away is driven not just by admiration for his personal sanctity but because they like the way he governed the church, and would like to see similar governance continue.

    • Peregrinus

      And I forgot to add, 4, JPII’s personal enthusiasm for saint-making, which may have given figures not championed by religious orders – inlcuding popes – a much needed leg up in the canonisation stakes. Whether the emphasis on saint-making will long survive him remains to be seen.

      • Kiran

        If you want to be canonised, joining a religious order is a good first step.

        And not the Dominicans either…

        But more honestly, a person will get canonized if there is a cultus, eventually. If there isn’t a cultus, then they aren’t. Such are the rules of the Church. Canonization in some ways a democratic process, but a traditional one.

        • Kiran

          keeping in mind GKC’s quip about tradition as the Democracy of the dead.

        • Peregrinus

          And not the Dominicans either…

          I dunno, the OPs have a pretty good batting average; St Dominic (obviously), St Raymnd of Penafort, St Vincent Ferrer, St Albert the Great, St Pius V (a rare post-medieval sainted pope!), St Martin de Porres, and many more besides, I don’t doubt. And the statistics are considerably burnished by the 17 Martyrs of Nagasaki (12 of whom were OPs) and the 117 Martyrs of Vietnam (22 OPs plus several members of the Third Order).

          And that’s just counting the blokes. There’s St Catherine of Siena, St Rose of Lima and I don’t know how many other Dominican Sisters.

          • Kyle

            And don’t forget St Thomas of Aquinas!

          • Kiran

            But St. Dominic’s cause was pushed not by the Order, but by the Pope. So too with St. Peter Martyr. St Albert wasn’t canonized for 700 years. St. Raymond also had connections with the Mercedarians, if memory serves. St. Catherine was popular. St. Pius V was a Pope. The martyrs were canonized en masse. With a majority of the Dominican saints, they became canonized without the Order’s petition…

            • Peregrinus

              Trust me. The Dominicans have the whole thing sewn up from the inside. They control everything without needing to show their hands. And the beauty of it is, they have fooled the world into thinking that everything is run by the Jesuits!

              [Cue echoing, evil laughter.]

        • “And not the Dominicans either…”

          I don’t get it–are you thinking of the Carthusians, Kiran?

        • Canonization in some ways a democratic process, but a traditional one

          Which is why the “Santo Subito” movement for JPII’s canonisation and the push for Mother Teresa to get canonised ASAP ought to be respected. It is a lot more “traditional” this way than the modern canonisation process makes allowance for.

          • Kiran

            Oh yes. I agree. I would also take some of the emphasis off miracles. I don’t think they should stop requiring them, necessarily, in all cases. I think they should stop making them the focus, or rather (because I don’t think it is the fault of the Vatican, really), I think they should stop publicizing the miracles for canonization.

            Statements like “she needs another miracle to be canonized” are not very well interpreted. Firstly, it is not she who needs the miracle, but we. Nor is she the one who performs the miracle, but God. And she is not canonized because there was a miracle, but because her Christian witness is acknowledged.

  10. “A priest once commented to [Mr. Schütz] that perhaps the reason why such a large proportion of the modern popes have been acclaimed saints in comparison with their predecessors is precisely that once upon a time popes were elected not so much to “govern the Church” as to govern the Papal States, and that the loss of this temporal authority has in fact freed up the papacy to serve its spiritual purpose – and therefore been much more fertile ground for sanctity.”
    [my emphasis]

    That priest needs to be reminded of condemned error no. 76 in the Syllabus of Errors:

    “The abolition of the civil power which the Apostolic See possesses, would be extremely conducive to the liberty and prosperity of the Church”
    [http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma18.php]

    “An interesting observation, when one considers just how few of the popes who were also governors of the Papal States were ever acclaimed as saints.”

    Msgr. Williamson, I seem to recall, has said that the Catholic Church in the twentieth century started to go downhill with the death of St. Pius X. I agree with this, and contend that it was around the time when the Holy See reconciled herself to the usurpation of her civil authority–an authority which, at the time it was usurped, rested on the strongest claim of any European sovereign, stretching back a thousand years–under St. Pius X’s second successor, Pius XI, that the calibre of Popes worsened considerably, at first with respect to imprudent pastoral judgments (such as selection of inadequate Bishops) under Pius XII, and then the subsequent string of both doctrinal and pastoral disasters–Vatican II, the New Mass, Assisi, &c. &c.

    “[Mr. Schütz] for one believe[s] that it is far more important that we recognise Pope John Paul II … a “Doctor of the Church”.”

    WHAT THE?!?!

    “[Mr. Schütz] do[es]n’t see the necessary connection between sainthood and right teaching.”

    It’s not necessary, but it’s highly desirable; otherwise you end up encouraging rationalistic types, breeding pride and scorn for piety. By requiring Doctors of the Church to be renowned (sp?) for the Holy Ghost’s Gifts of both Understanding and Piety the Church seeks the middle ground between rationalism and fideism.

    • “The abolition of the civil power which the Apostolic See possesses, would be extremely conducive to the liberty and prosperity of the Church”

      I was not suggesting that the civil power of the Apostolic See should be abolished, rather I am celebrating the fact that it has been cut down to a size which serves for the benefit rather than the detrimate of the Pope’s spiritual role.

      • Kiran

        “The abolition of the civil power which the Apostolic See possesses, would be extremely conducive to the liberty and prosperity of the Church”

        I am sorry to disagree, but I simply fail to see how that is of faith or morals. It is not dogmatic, and even if it is not true, I don’t necessarily see why someone holding the opposite position has departed from the Faith of Jesus Christ. Further, the question of whether Quanta Cura was infallible is a tangled one. It was generally agreed that the accompanied Syllabus of Errors were not so.

        • “Further, the question of whether Quanta Cura was infallible is a tangled one.”

          Why do you think that, Kiran?

          • Please don’t get His Eminence started on this, Kiran! It’s his favourite statement of the entire magisterium. I think if he had been elected Pope, His Eminence would have replaced the Nicene Creed in the Liturgy with Quanta Cura!

            (only joking, Your Eminence! Really!)

            • “Please don’t get His Eminence started on this, Kiran!”

              A gentle LOL from me, Mr. Schütz! I don’t think that Kiran had started following this blog at the time of those lengthy discussions on social doctrine of December 2008 back at the old S.C.E. I don’t want to wade too deeply back into them; Kiran is welcome to Google the relevant key words or check this blog’s archive if he wishes.

              “It’s [my] favourite statement of the entire magisterium.”

              It’d be in my top ten.

          • Kiran

            Because that was the thought by Catholics at the time, and since. People like Newman and Dupanloup. Here is Newman writing to Ambrose St. John, for instance, as Ward in his life of Newman quotes him:

            ‘I am glad you are seeing the Puseyites. I suppose they will be asking you questions about the Encyclical. There are some very curious peculiarities about it, which make it difficult to speak about it, till one hears what theologians say. Condemned propositions are (so far as I know, or as Henry or Stanislas know), propositions taken out of some book, the statements “libri cujusdam auctoris.” These are not such, {81} nor do they pretend to be,—they are abstract propositions. Again, the Pope in condemning propositions condemns the books or statements of Catholics,—not of heathen or unbaptized, for what has he to do in judging “those that are without”? Now these propositions are mostly the propositions of “Acatholici.” Moreover, it is rather a Syllabus of passages from his former allocutions, &c., than a Syllabus of erroneous utterances. And accordingly he does not affix the epithets, “haeresi proximae, scandalosae, &c.” but merely heads the list as a “Syllabus of errors.” Therefore it is difficult to know what he means by his condemnation. The words “myth,” “non-interference,” “progress,” “toleration,” “new civilisation,” are undefined. If taken from a book, the book interprets them, but what interpretation is there of popular slang terms? “Progress,” e.g., is a slang term. Now you must not say all this to your good friends, but I think you will like to know what seems to be the state of the case. First, so much they ought to know, that we are bound to receive what the Pope says, and not to speak about it. Secondly, there is little that he says but would have been said by all high churchmen thirty years ago, or by the Record or by Keble now. These two points your friends ought to take and digest. For the rest, all I can say (entre nous) is that the advisers of the Holy Father seem determined to make our position in England as difficult as ever they can. I see this issue of the Encyclical,—others I am not in a position to see. If, in addition to this, the matter and form of it are unprecedented, I do not know how we can rejoice in its publication.’

            Newman went further:

            ‘Do I understand you to assume,’ he writes to Mr. Ward on May 24, 1867, ‘that the Encyclical of 1864 is Infallible? They don’t say so in Rome—as Father St. John, who has returned, says distinctly.’ His own final judgment is recorded in his letter to the Duke of Norfolk—that the estimate of the authority of such documents and of what, if anything, they do teach infallibly, is a matter of time and is the business of the Schola Theologorum, not a matter for the private judgment of individual Catholics. So little can this be in some cases securely determined with certainty at first, that doctrines may long be generally held to be condemned which are afterwards considered allowable. At the same time, while denying the dogmatic force of the Syllabus, Newman does not in the Letter deny that Pius IX. issued the Encyclical Quanta Cura as Universal Doctor.

            There is also a question as to how it is to be interpreted:

            “The more moderate Catholics, like Bishop Dupanloup, regretted the appearance of the Syllabus Errorum [Note 1]. They held that its general purport was sure to be interpreted by the public as being in accord with the views of the extreme party which had pressed for its issue. Dupanloup published a comment on its text, in which he contended that interpretation according to the rules of technical theology would reduce the scope of its condemnations to little or nothing more than a statement of Christian principles in the face of a non-Christian civilisation.”

            I think the secular power of the Popes can be pragmatically defended. But I simply don’t see how it can be of the Faith.

            • Okay, here goes, as briefly as possible, and mindful that, as I mentioned earlier, Mr. Schütz and I have been through this before:

              The parts of your citation which come from 1865-66 and 1867 came before the promulgation of Pastor Æternus; we now know the conditions for ex Cathedra infallibility, and these are satisfied in the text of Quanta cura.

              The Letter to The Duke of Norfolk was, of course, post-Vatican-I. Now your citations says that

              “[Newman’s] own final judgment is recorded in his letter to the Duke of Norfolk—that the estimate of the authority of such documents and of what, if anything, they do teach infallibly, is a matter of time and is the business of the Schola Theologorum, not a matter for the private judgment of individual Catholics.”

              Firstly, I note that in the Letter to The Duke of Norfolk Newman speaks of

              “that infallible teaching voice which is heard so distinctly in the Quantâ curâ and the Pastor Æternus”
              [http://www.newmanreader.org/works/anglicans/volume2/gladstone/section8.html]

              Secondly, Pastor Æternus says nothing of ex Cathedra statements needing to be mediated through the “Schola Theologorum”; the conditions which it states are well-known, need no mediator, and are satisifed in Quanta cura.

              And the Syllabus of Errors is different matter.

              (For more on the Magisterial status of Quanta cura, you might want to see this post of mine from December 2008:

              http://cardinalpole.blogspot.com/2008/12/more-on-magisterial-status-of-quanta.html

      • “[You were] not suggesting that the civil power of the Apostolic See should be abolished”

        Nor did I say that you were, but then you go on to say that

        “[you are] celebrating the fact that [“the civil power of the Apostolic See”] has been cut down to a size which serves for the benefit rather than the detrimate of the Pope’s spiritual role.”

        which is the point of that condemnation; a civil power over a territory the size of a football field and a populace of about a thousand isn’t significantly different from no civil power at all, especially compared to how big it used to be.

        • No, Quanta Cura says nothing about “cutting down” the Pope’s civil jurisdiction, only abolishing it.

          I hope you are not one of those progressive “Spirit of Quanta Cura” types, are you, Your Eminence?

          • “No, Quanta Cura says nothing about “cutting down” the Pope’s civil jurisdiction, only abolishing it.”

            Granted. Though I can’t help but think of that passage from King Lear, with Regan and Gonerill whittling down Lear’s retinue: ‘What need a hundred knights?’, ‘What need fifty?’, ‘What need a dozen?’, ‘What need one?’. If I recall correctly, they only let him keep his Fool.

            • After making that comment I noticed that the last sentence could be taken as insinuating that you (Mr. Schütz) are a fool, but this was not my intention; my intention is to allude to the fact that, like Lear losing everything except his Fool, the Pope getting to keep little more than a token of his civic power, only a tiny fragment of his rightful territories, is small (and humiliating) consolation.

  11. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Good Lord, is the Catholic religion EVER about anything other than itself?

    As to JPII, if turning Max Scheler into the Urim and Thummim through which the Gospel is divined makes one a Doctor of the Church, they are not worth having.

    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      P bloody S. Of course we know if people avoid Purgatory. Everyone does, because it does not exist.

      • Questions:

        1) How can you be so sure, PE? How do you know?

        2) What exactly are you saying does not exist? Am I not to expect that when I rise from the dead I will have been purified of my sinfulness?

  12. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Why are you worried about it? Your sins are paid for and your “purification” doesn’t have jack to do with that. Remitted, forgiven, pardoned, paid for — you’re covered. Why in the hell worry about one’s sinfulness or purification therefrom when rising from the dead when He describes himself as not even remembering what they were!

    • Kiran

      Because people in heaven are perfectly pure and spotless. I mean you might disagree, but you have said what you think, and I what we think.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        I don’t disagree that people in heaven are perfectly pure and spotless.

        How did they get to heaven, by being perfectly pure and spotless, or because he who is perfectly pure and spotless has had mercy on us and sent his only Son to die for us and for His sake forgives us all our sins?

        • Kiran

          Oh no doubt. It is God who is doing the cleansing. But still it is a known fact that people do not die perfectly free from their sin, nor pure and spotless. So some of that cleansing must take place somehow. Such is purgatory.

          Granting revelation “happens” to man, still, it is to man that it happens. And the Word of God transforms man. And we know that that transformation isn’t complete at death. So, it happens after.

  13. Christine

    Purgatory.

    Another schema rejected by millions of Orthodox and Protestants.

    Of course, we all know that the thief on the cross was an exception. Unbaptized, never received the Eucharist, but upon his sincere repentance the Lord told him he would be with Him in paradise. Not purgatory.

    But the thief was an exception — right? Except that, God is no respecter of persons.

    Man, am I glad to be away from all this philosophical dancing.

    Christine

  14. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    This day thou shalt begin thy purification, which is gonna be a long one because after a life of crime the Holy Spirit created faith in you just a moment ago hanging on the next cross over, and after that thou shalt be with me in Paradise.

    • No, Christine. No, PE. Even the thief on the Cross was “purified”. He had his “purgatory”. He died a “forgiven sinner”, but we trust that when he entered Paradise he was no longer a sinner at all.

      Christ, his blood and his righteousness, his grace and his mercy, purified the theif on the Cross just as he will and is in the process of purifying me.

      Even the Eastern Church, which has no doctrine of purgatory per se, does not deny the intent of the doctrine. Otherwise, why would they pray for the dead?

      Even Protestants, and naughty Catholics such as your two good selves, would admit the doctrine if you took the time to properly understand it.

      Purgatory is just a name which Western Catholics give to a reality that will happen to us all. It is as St Paul says in Scripture: “What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. ” Purgatory is the name which Catholics give to that transformation. It is not a denial of Christ, because it is Christ who effects this transformation, not only “because he who is perfectly pure and spotless has had mercy on us and sent his only Son to die for us and for His sake forgives us all our sins”, but because at the moment of death we immediately and directly encounter this Christ, who completes the transformation which he began in us in this life. Again, as St Paul says, “We will not all die, but we will all be changed” before we enter into the eternal kingdom of the new creation.

      But re the Thief on the Cross, it is worth asking just what Jesus meant by “Paradise”. This word is used only three times in Scripture (here in Luke, and by Paul describing his Damascus Road event, and once in Revelation where it appears to refer to the Garden of Eden which has some kind of continued existence with God). My own guess is that Jesus is directly responding to the Theif’s use of the term “Kingdom”. Jesus is not so much making a statement of the Theif’s personal salvation so much as proclaiming that in the very act of his sacrificial death (“today”) that Kingdom of God is being inaugurated (remember the taunts of the passersby that Jesus did not look much like a Messiah hanging on the cross – he did not fulfill their expectation that “Paradise” would be inaugurated by the Messiah) and the Theif will have a place in it.

      • Kiran

        wot ‘e said!

        I would be interested to hear from the Orthodox what they do believe. For my part, I very strongly suspect that substantially we agree.

  15. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Funny, the thief seemed to “get it” quite well.

    Or at least the verse “Now hold on Josh, whaddya mean Paradise, I was asking about Kingdom” is missing from my Bible.

  16. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Well I’ll be dipped, whipped, nipped, bipped and clipped, in my sixteen years of Catholic education I must have been sick the day they covered Purgatory.

    Purification, the doctrine by which the faith stands or falls, hell yes!

    No, I bought all the fantasies above, once. Then I came to see that is the sort of stuff that must be fabricated when justification and sanctification are all mixed up.

    How well Luther wrote, that what should be the most obvious thing about the church became the most obscure.

    • Kiran

      Justification and sanctification are not being mixed up by us, PE. Nobody is saying that if one dies in sin, they can get to heaven through purgatory.

  17. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Great blogging Judas, nobody is saying that anybody is saying that if one dies in sin they can get to heaven through purgatory. That’s not what mixing up justification and sanctification is.

  18. Christine

    Even Protestants, and naughty Catholics such as your two good selves, would admit the doctrine if you took the time to properly understand it.

    I really am amused that you think I don’t understand the meaning of purgatory, David.

    Nor do I consider myself a “naughty” Catholic.

    Yes, we will all be purified — in an instant — when, as believers, we face the Lord either at death or on that last day.

    Purgatory is such a wonderfully convenient fiction — um, let’s offer some masses for the poor souls in purgatory. Well, we’d better offer many of them, because we don’t know how long the poor souls are stuck there — oh, but wait, purgatory is outside of “time” — so we’ll never know how long they are there.

    What a terrible, turned upside down piece of legalism and insult to the merciful Christ.

    Today you will be with me in paradise (another name for Eden, the state of perfection).

    It is appointed for men once to die, and then the judgment. Not purgatory.

    Fantasies indeed..

    Christine

    • Kiran

      I simply do not see why it is any insult to the merciful Christ to say souls will be purified to go to him. On the other hand, I do not see how it can not be insulting to the goodness and transcendence of God to say that on the one hand, we remain unpurified throughout life (which is manifestly the case), but that instantly once we die, we get free from the stain of sin.

    • Yes, we will all be purified — in an instant — when, as believers, we face the Lord either at death or on that last day.

      If you narrow that down just to “Yes, we will all be purified when, as believers, we face the Lord at death “, then that is just about what the doctrine of purgatory is about. Read Ratzinger on this, in Eschatology and Spe Salvi.

      It is precisely our Lord himself who is the “purifying fire” of Purgatory. As to whether it is “an instant”, well, some have speculated that it may be so, but that is speculation. All we know is that temporality after death is different from what it is in this life. As for “on that last day”, well, that’s true too – if we are still alive when it comes. What is crucial is the encounter with the Lord, not when it happens. Thus purgatory can even begin here on earth, in that same encounter.

      As for the role that we as believers have in helping those who are experiencing this “purifying encounter” with Christ, well, that’s what the doctrine of the Communion of Saints is all about. No believer, in their encounter with Christ, encounters him alone as an individual. All are one in Christ, and hence our prayers (including the great prayer of the Church, the mass) is an aid to them in this encounter.

  19. Speaking of Doctors of the Church and the good thief: St. Robert Bellarmine on:

    What Christ meant by ‘Paradise’:

    “Therefore in the promise of Christ the word Paradise could mean nothing else than the beatitude of the soul, which consists in the vision of God, and this is truly a paradise of delights, not a corporeal and a local paradise, but a spiritual and a heavenly one. For which reason, to the request of the thief, “Remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom,” our Lord did not reply, “This day thou shalt be with Me” in My kingdom, but, “Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise,” because on that day Christ entered not into His kingdom, and did not enter it till the day of His Resurrection, when His Body became immortal, impassible, glorious, and was no longer liable to any servitude or subjection. And He will not have the good thief for His companion in this kingdom until the resurrection of all men at the last day. Nevertheless, with great truth and propriety He said to him: “This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise,” since on this very day He would communicate both to the soul of the good thief and to the souls of the saints in Limbus that glory of the vision of God which He had received in His conception; for this is true glory and essential felicity; this is the crowning joy of the celestial Paradise.”

    Why the good thief did not go to Purgatory:

    “In a word, [the good thief’s] dispositions were, so perfect as to make the pains of his crucifixion compensate for what sufferings were in store for him in Purgatory, so that immediately after death he entered into the joy of his Lord.”

    Both quotations from

    http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/b5u.htm

    • All very well and good – and certainly very traditional – but not an infallible opinion. There may in fact be infallible teaching on this matter that I have overlooked, and which you will no doubt point out to me, and I will submit! But, as I said, my own understanding of the text is on the basis of the 1st Century Jewish expectation of what “Messiah” and “Kingdom” mean.

      And incidentally, did St Robert not hold the traditional threefold understanding of the coming of the Kingdom (which in fact, Martin Luther also included in his catechism on the Lord’s Prayer), namely that the Kingdom has come (in Christ), is coming (to each believer who receives him) and will come (as St Robert B says) at the end of time after the consumation and judgement.

      While acknowledging that “In the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come” refers primarily to the final coming of the reign of God through Christ’s return” (2818), the Catechism also says (2186) : “The Kingdom of God lies ahead of us. It is brought near in the Word incarnate, it is proclaimed throughout the whole Gospel, and it has come in Christ’s death and Resurrection. The Kingdom of God has been coming since the Last Supper and, in the Eucharist, it is in our midst. The kingdom will come in glory when Christ hands it over to his Father.”

      St Cyprian likewise seems to have understood that in Christ the Kingdom is present already in the world. cf. http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/134/Thy_Kingdom_Come____St._Cyprian_on_the_Lord_s_Prayer.html

      • Kiran

        I am reminded somewhat of St. Maximus and three incarnations, or better say, the threefold presence of God the Word in the cosmos, in the scriptures, and in the person of Jesus Christ. Quite different, of course, but worth considering in this context, I think.

      • “All very well and good – and certainly very traditional – but not an infallible opinion.”

        True enough; my first thought on why the good thief did not go to Purgatory was simply that if the Vicar of Christ can grant a plenary indulgence, then so too can Christ Himself, and that was what He did. As for ‘Paradise’, I originally thought that it meant the Limbo of the Fathers once Christ’s soul was there, but I find St. Robert’s explanation of the meaning of ‘Paradise’ convincing.

        “[Your] own understanding of the text is on the basis of the 1st Century Jewish expectation of what “Messiah” and “Kingdom” mean.”

        St. Robert deals with that expectation in The Seven Words (link above).

        “And incidentally, did St Robert not hold the traditional threefold understanding of the coming of the Kingdom …”

        According to the Roman Catechism, the three-fold Kingdom is God’s Kingdom of nature, of grace, and of glory. Apparently it is St. Robert’s opinion that the Paradise which Christ promised to the good thief was essentially the Kingdom of glory (I say ‘essentially’ because St. Robert thinks that the good thief was made a comprehensor after his death but his soul was not to inhabit Heaven until after the Ascension of Our Lord, of course).

        • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

          Another verse missing from my Bible:

          I got great news for you Disula, I’m giving you a plenary indulgence so this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise. Good thing I’m right here, cause later on youda hadta wait on the Pope.

  20. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Well damn if that verse isn’t missing from my Bible too.

    This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise, but don’t take that personally Dis, I’m not really saying this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise, and I know you’re about to die and all and time is short but you gotta reflect on what is Kingdom and the real nature of the Messianic prophecies, and besides it’s kind of more like a vision for now anyway, you ain’t really gonna be with me until later on.

    • Kiran

      Depends, doesn’t it on what ‘later on’ and ‘now’ mean for the incorporeal, don’t you think?

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        No I don’t. One dying man talking to another is hardly incorporeal. They weren’t having a theology seminar in a campus classroom.

  21. Christine

    “In a word, [the good thief’s] dispositions were, so perfect as to make the pains of his crucifixion compensate for what sufferings were in store for him in Purgatory, so that immediately after death he entered into the joy of his Lord.”

    Gott hilf mir zweimal. Now I’ve heard it all.

    The Church of Rome even has the charism to rewrite Scripture.

    Christine

  22. Christine

    “The Church of Rome even has the charism to rewrite Scripture.”

    How so?

    Might as well, by torturing the plain sense of Holy Writ in implying that the good thief’s sufferings expiated his need for “purgatory.”

    But that’s the empire that is Roman Catholicisim, devoted to natural religion, which always wants to add to the finished work of Christ.

    Christine