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Vol. 14 No. 2 (2021)


Genesis and Meaning of the Title of “Doctor of the Church” for the Development of the Catholic Faith

DOI:  [Google Scholar]
Published: 2022-07-19


Title of the Doctor of the Church is, unquestionably, very significant, but the method used by the bishop of Rome to grant the title is almost unknown, nowadays. Most of all, this is true due to its specific and special procedure. Formal and legal issues regarding granting this very significant and meaningful ecclesiastical dignity of universal character has returned lately together with numerous suggestions to grant the title of the Doctor of the Church to Saint John Paul II. It is worth to mention that until present the title of the Doctor of the Church has been granted to 36 people, who, obviously, were previously canonized by the Church. Among these there are 32 men and 4 women. Popes who were heads of the Church after the Second Vatican Council, namely St. Paul VI, St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, as well as current Pope Francis had a habit of granting this ecclesiastical title in a systematic but sporadic manner. They did it in a special apostolic letter. It must also be pointed out that there is not any Pole on the list of the Doctors. However, there are 2 bishops of Rome, 3 cardinals, 15 bishops, 11 presbyters, 1 deacon, 2 nuns, 1 tertiary, and 1 abbess. As the above list indicates, this honourable title of the universal Church can be granted even to the lay faithful. It can be said synthetically that Doctors of the Church are important and prominent teachers of the universal Church. It is also worth to add that in 1687 the Krakow Academy expressed a wish that John Cantius was pronounced a Doctor of the Church at the time of his canonization. However, the Roman Curia questioned the authorship of his writings. This, without any doubt, caused that the issue could not have been further proceeded. The St. John Paul II apostolic constitution Pastor bonus, about the Roman Curia of 28 June 1988 states in Article 73 that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is competent to “examine what is necessary for the granting of the title of doctor to saints, after having received the recommendation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning outstanding teaching.”


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