Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 15, 1961

Lost Sainthood

C. R. McRay, Decatur, Texas

"When Philomena lost her sainthood a few weeks ago it surprised many Roman Catholics, as well as others, that what they considered an irrevocable title could be withdrawn." This is a statement found in the Denton Record Chronicle, of Denton, Texas, May 12, 1961.

Since the entire article is too long to quote in full, let us give only a few sentences and paragraphs:

It is true that canonization — the process of declaring a person a saint — involves an "ex cathedra" pronouncement by the pope, which Catholics regard as infallible.

The fact is, Philomena never was canonized.

There is no chance of the same fate befalling Sister Bertilla Boscarin, the Italian nun and hospital worker who was made a saint Thursday in the Catholic Church's regular canonization process.

Originally the term saint (from the Latin word sanctus, holy) was applied to all persons popularly deemed as holy.

Local bishops approved of public veneration of such persons, and they came to be listed as saints. The Roman martyrology roll lists about 4,500 persons titled as saints though never formally canonized.

The first papal canonization was in 993 when Pope John XV proclaimed Bishop Ulric of Augsburg a saint, and to end the abuses Pope Alexander III in 1170 reserved the right of canonization to the Pope alone.

Still some bishops continued to authorize veneration of saintly persons in their dioceses and confusion continued. Many persons, like Philomena, since have had to be stricken from the rolls when evidence of their sanctity turned out to be dubious (doubtful) by later standards.

Finally in 1634 Pope Urban VII expressly prohibited all bishops from naming saints on their own, and the approximately 250 persons declared as saints by Popes since then stand no chance of being "un-sainted."

The Catholic Church today follows a rigid process of canonization set up by Pope Benedict XIV in 1750.

The procedure often requires centuries, and usually great expense — sometimes as much as $100,000 — which must be borne by the person or group sponsoring the cause.

The church requires that a person be dead 50 years before the process can even begin, though this rule has been waived in certain cases.

Mother Cabrini, the only American citizen to become a saint, was canonized in 1946, only 29 years after her death; and the newest saint, Sister Bertilla, died in 1922. On the other hand, the two other saints canonized by Pope John XXIII, St. Carlo de Sezze and St. Joaquina de Vedruna de Mas, died in 1670 and 1854 respectively."

After every shred of evidence which is available is collected, the home diocese of "the servant of God" (as he is referred to throughout the procedure) begins the canonization process. This evidence is sent to the Roman Rota, which is the Vatican's "appellate court." This court appoints a lawyer known popularly as "the devil's advocate" to refute all the evidence. So, right here on earth, after a person is dead, the trial begins. Really!! After the court approves him, the case is sent to the Congregation of Rites, a permanent commission of cardinals established in 1588. There are three meetings, the third of which the Pope himself attends. If the Pope decides here that this person had virtue "in the heroic degree," he is titled "venerable."

Three more meetings are held to determine another requirement of sainthood — proof that miracles have been wrought by his intercession after his death, of which third meeting, the Pope attends. Yes, indeed I Pray to Mr. "servant of God" and he will perform a miracle. Seems like I read in the Bible that there was but one mediator. (1 Tim. 2:5) This article says this is the greatest stumbling block, for in the case of instantaneous cures of organic disorders, at least two medical authorities must verify that it could not have come about by natural causes. The proof of miracles? Ask the doctors, they know! The miracles recorded in the Bible do not and did not need the word of some man. There was no doubt but that they were miracles. Everyone was witness to them. But in this case, there is considerable doubt, and even after the doctors so certify, there is still doubt, for I did not see it, and man said it was so, not God. If two miracles are proved, then he is called "Blessed."

But two more miracles must be proved before he can become a saint. The court assembles three more times, the third of which the Pope again attends, and makes this person a saint. At present there are about 700 under consideration by this court, some of which date back to the 14th century.

Brethren, we have had it all wrong for years. When Peter came down to the saints who dwelt at Lydda (Acts 9:32) he actually died, for people cannot be saints until they are dead. When Paul said in Acts 26:10, that he shut up many of the saints in prison, he was actually taking the dead people and putting them in prison.

But, there is a more solid and reasonable answer to this problem. The people of God are referred to as saints, whether dead or alive. All Christians are saints. We are told to distribute to the necessity of saints. (Rom. 12:13) What possibly could a dead person want who is enjoying the blessed state of the beyond? Paul states there were poor saints at Jerusalem. (Rom. 15:26) Do you suppose that saints dwell on this earth and are poor? Certainly so! That they are God's children, and alive on the earth, is undeniable by Paul writing to the saints in Rome. (Rom. 1:7) In 1 Tim. 5:10, Paul states a widow cannot be taken into the number unless she washed the saints feet. The only possible explanation, that makes any sense, is that these saints are Christians. This we have already proved.

As you can see, Catholics make laws where God has not made laws. Then they change these laws. This shows they are not infallible, even in their teaching by "ex cathedra." The laws of God cannot be set aside like these the Roman dictator makes.

Dear reader, you do not have to die or go through this process or spend or have spent $100,000 for you to become a saint. Just obey the gospel of Christ and God will make you a saint at that very instant. (Rom. 1:16; Mk. 16:15, 16) He adds you to his church which is composed of people like you who are saints. (Acts 2:47; Rom. 1:7)