Infallibly, as defined
by the First Vatican Council, means...
adhering faithfully to the tradition received from the beginning of the
Christian faith, to the glory of God, our Savior, the elevation of the Catholic
religion and the salvation of Christian peoples, with the approbation of the
sacred Council, teach and explain that the dogma has been divinely revealed:
that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when carrying out
the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme
apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held
by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in blessed
Peter, possesses that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that
His Church be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith and morals; and so
such definitions of the Roman Pontiff of themselves, and not from the consensus
of the Church, are irreformable. But if anyone presumes to contradict
this definition of Ours, which may God forbid: let him be anathema." (Vatican
Council I, 1870 A.D., emphasis added)
According to the
above, papal infallibility involves "doctrine regarding faith or morals", which
would not seem to include investigations into people's lives.
As explained in the
Q. What do you
mean by the infallibility of the Church?
A. By the
infallibility of the Church I mean that the Church cannot err when it teaches a
doctrine of faith or morals.
Q. What do we
mean by a "doctrine of faith or morals"?
A. By a
doctrine of faith or morals we mean the revealed teaching that refers to
whatever we must believe and do in order to be saved.
How could it
be argued that a canonization is a "doctrine of faith or morals" that is
"taught"? How can a canonization be considered a "revealed teaching that refers
to whatever we must believe and do in order to be saved"? Isn't canonization
more of a 'judgment call' regarding someone's life/death confirmed by miracles
(miracles that the Church cannot infallibly rule on) than a 'revealed teaching'?
canonizations may have long been thought to be infallible, this has never been a
defined dogma of the faith. In fact, infallibility of canonizations has been
questioned in recent times. For a guest article touching on this topic, try
here [see (roughly) the second half of the article under "So, where does
this leave us? Are canonizations infallible?..."]
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