Is Pope Benedict XVI a worthy candidate, and will it happen? by Matthew Bunson CNA (Catholic News Agency)
16 January 2023
Benedict himself understood deeply the requirements and the highly unusual nature of the Doctors. After all, he named two of them himself in 2012: the 12th-century abbess and mystic St. Hildegard of Bingen and the 16th-century priest St. John of Ávila.

On the issue of his qualifications to be a Doctor of the Church, then, the answer is that he is, arguably, one of the most eminently qualified candidates in Church history. Benedict XVI authored more than 60 books, memorable and important encyclicals, more than a thousand academic articles, countless speeches and commentaries, and even prayers. He is considered one of the greatest and most faithful theologians in the history of the Church, and his vast body of teachings only continued after his election as pope in 2005. The argument can be made that he stands alongside several Doctors of the Church for his learning, including St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Basil the Great, St. Leo I the Great, and even St. Bonaventure, of whom Pope Benedict was an expert.

In addition, like several Doctors of the Church, Benedict also had the remarkable ability to bring the most profound teachings of the faith down to the level that anyone can understand, a feat possible only when a teacher has absolute mastery of the subject. This places him in the great company of St. Francis de Sales, St. Ambrose, and St. John Chrysostom.

And then there is Benedict’s place as a teacher. A professor of theology whose sweep of knowledge included fundamental, dogmatic, biblical and spiritual theology, Pope Benedict was so gifted as a teacher that his doctoral students established what is called the Schülerkreis (Student Circle) to honor him and celebrate their experience. As a teacher, Benedict shares company with such Doctors of the Church as St. Albert the Great and even St. Thomas Aquinas.

Sainthood comes first

Clearly, Pope Benedict possesses the proper credentials of learned and faithful scholarship for the faith. The other requirement, of course, is that the candidate be a canonized saint. Certainly, at Benedict’s funeral there were signs proclaiming “Santo Subito!” as there were at John Paul II’s funeral. Only time will demonstrate whether such calls and such sentiments lead to a cause for canonization being opened.

Typically, there is a requirement to wait at least five years before a cause can be opened, although this was waived — by Pope Benedict XVI — in the case of Pope John Paul II. A normal cause for canonization would take many years, even centuries. The towering figure of St. Albert the Great, who died in 1280, was only beatified in 1622 and only canonized in 1931, an event that cleared the way for him to be made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI that same year.

Should Pope Benedict one day be canonized a saint and declared a Doctor of the Church, he would be only the third pontiff (as of today at least), with St. Leo I the Great and St. Gregory I the Great.

There are many obvious and important steps to be taken before Pope Benedict XVI could become a Doctor of the Church. For now, however, there is the opportunity for Catholics and all people seeking the truth to dedicate themselves to his teachings. His gifts to the Church and the knowledge and wisdom of humanity do not need the title of Doctor of the Church to be appreciated and cherished. That he might some day be granted the title would be only the final affirmation of what many have known and believed for a very long time.

Diocese of Lucena dot org                                            All Rights Reserved ©2020
This website is developed and maintained by and for the faithful of the Diocese of Lucena
HOME   |   BACK TO TOP    |   LOG IN