Is It Possible for Saints To Teach Errors?
Your recent work on Cardinal Newman (here and here) is excellent. I have thought for a few years now that the reason Rome wants to canonize him is because his concept of the development of doctrine is so useful to the conciliar modernists. Their development of doctrine equates to reversal of previous teaching, which was not Newman's desire, but the Vatican II-ers will drive an 18-wheeler though that crack in the door.
I noted also TIA's report of Benedict XVI's positive mention of Teilhard de Chardin in a sermon in 2009. Just now I am reading a book by Bishop Sheen, Footprints in a Darkened Forest, in which the bishop spends a chapter praising Chardin as a misunderstood man with a brilliant synthesis of evolution and the Faith, who "within fifty years ... will appear like John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as the spiritual genius of the twentieth century." Sheen's case for canonization is in its early stages, as you probably know, and no one will question the good he did for years.
My question: have there been canonized saints who taught error, who left behind really questionable teachings? Bishop Sheen is an interesting example of what blindness afflicted and continues to afflict the Church after the Council. This above-mentioned book was printed in 1967, and by then even the previously-considered reliable Sheen had gone off into la-la-land. A further chapter in Footprints in a Darkened Forest is entitled "Modern Saints." And while he doesn't quite canonize them, who are Bishop Sheen's four examples of modern saints? Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, John XXIII, and Dag Hammarskjold (former head of the United Nations.) What happened to Sheen?
Again, my question, as above: has the Church ever canonized someone who left behind glaring doctrinal errors in his/her works or teachings?
Thank you for initial kind words about our work.
Some men - like St. Thomas More who wrote the communist book Utopia before he became a good Catholic - were canonized as martyrs. This signified that what should be imitated was only the way they died, and not their lives.
Apart from martyrs, some Saints of old, who lived before the causes for beatification and canonization were established in the Church, were considered Saints by the ensemble of the faithful. They had the fame of sanctity and, through the tradition of the Church, are honored as saints. Those canonizations by fame of virtue without a process are called equipollent canonizations, which are distinct from the formal canonizations.
Some of the first Saints - St. Justin, St. Ireneus, St. Methodius - upheld the wrong thesis of Millennarism, which was later condemned by the Church; others - including St. Cyprian and St. Ambrose - defended the error, later a heresy, that the punishments of Hell would be deferred until the end of the world. Origen, an important master of the School of Alexandria, held Hellenist errors and had many disciples. Some Saints of his time followed his errors in different ways - they include St. Dionysius of Alexandria, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa and even St. Jerome, who after a first phase of enthusiam became a strong opponent of Origenism.
Because of those errors of some early Church Fathers, the Church counsels prudence in the study of Patristics.
These were reasons enough for the Church to discontinue the equipollent canonizations and to introduce the formal processes of beatification and canonization, where a long and severe examination of the writings of a candidate was made before any step was taken.
After these formal processes were established, the decrees of canonizations became so secure that they were included in the infallible decisions of the Church. That system ruled the Church from the 16th century until Vatican II (1962-1965), when canonizations were relaxed in an unprecedented way. This happened especially after 1983, when the New Code of Canon Law promulgated by John Paul II eliminated all the rules of those processes. Thenceforth, JPII made his 'factory of saints,' where he declared 1,338 persons 'blessed' and 482 'saints.'
In this incredibly prolific and non-serious new procedure, many persons who professed blatant errors - such as the Abbot Antonio Rosmini who had 40 of his theses condemned by the Church Magisterium (see Denzinger-Rahner nn. 1891-1930) - were made 'blessed' or 'saints' despite such errors.
This is the situation in which we live today. Days where confusion has entered the Church also regarding those who are named blessed and saints to be models for the faithful. Among them are many people who have been unduly elevated to the honor of the altars.
We hope this true but not encouraging picture answers your question.
TIA correspondence desk
Newman Was Not Homosexual
I have had a re-think over Newman's suspected homosexuality and I though I'd share it with you for your hoped for response. After reading the letter that Pope Pius X sent to the Bishop of Limerick thanking him for defending Newman I got to thinking. In reading Newman's heartfelt (to say the least) writings regarding his friend [Fr. Ambrose St. John] and also his reaction to his friend's death,
I think that had it been an illicit sexual relationship, Newman would have chosen his words more carefully. He was just too bright to have let his guard down so obviously. So, in view of Christian charity and furthermore, in the absence of proof, I believe that Newman was not homosexual. His 'modernist' style of writings are another matter, but perhaps Pope Pius X was correct in stating that the modernists of his time simply attached themselves to Newman because of his notoriety and used it to give credence to their own warped thinking..
Wojtyla & Non-Believers
Concerning the question as to whether or not Bp. Wojtyla spoke at Vatican II about how the Church shouldn't lecture non-believers, I've unearthed more evidence that suggests he did indeed say something to that effect, even worse if that's possible. Here are two online sources:
1. In an article concerning John Paul II getting the Mark of Shiva, John K. Weiskittel writes that he said:
"It is not the Church'"s place to teach unbelievers. She must seek in common with the world." The work cited is Henri Sesquet, The Drama of Vatican II, trans. by Bernard Murchland. (NY: 1967), pg. 444.
2. The same quote is expanded by Prabha Swampillai in Remembering Pope John Paul II: "It is not the Church's place to teach unbelievers. She must seek in common with the world ".. Let us avoid any spirit of monopolising and moralising. One of the major faults of this schema [for the constitution Gaudium et Spes] is that in it the Church appears authoritarian." Unfortunately, he doesn't cite his source.
Perhaps more research will bear this out, though I believe Sesquet is considered a reliable source. As for Wojtyla's quote, I can't see how it can be reconciled with the teaching of the Church, beginning with Christ's great commission to the Apostles: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. 28:19) So "to teach unbelievers" is precisely what the Church has been called to do, if I'm reading that right. Your thoughts?
A Typo in Wojtyla's Quote
In paragraph three of your reply to the question about Cardinal Wojtyla's statement about dialogue with unbelievers, you translate a sentence from La Civilta Cattolica's, "We cannot establish a true dialogue if we do not consider that the Church, even being in the world, is above it."
The 'do not' seems out of place here, since Cardinal Wojtyla seems to be saying the very opposite - that the Church should not try to dialogue from a position of superiority to the world.
We thank you for your observation. You are right in saying that the do not should be do. However, the same typo appears in Italian in Fr. Caprile's chronicle. We believe it was his mistake, but we do not exclude the possibility that Card. Wojtyla had some lapsus linguae (error of expression) and actually said something like that. We did not want to change the original to not be accused of tailoring a text to fit a thesis.
Anyway, we appreciate your precision.
TIA correspondence desk
Posted September 28, 2010
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Related Topics of Interest
Fulton Sheen's Flaws in Rhetoric
Archbishop Sheen, an Enthusiast of Vatican II
The New Canonizations - A 'Saint Factory'
A Pain in the Back
Polemic on Newman's Homosexuality Increases
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