Bishops Petition the Pope to Confer the Title of Doctor of the Church on Saint Therese of Lisieux

Friday, November 22 1996

OTTAWA – (CCCB) Archbishop Francis J. Spence, president of the CCCB, recently presented His Holiness Pope Paul II with a formal written request by Canada’s bishops that Saint Therese of the Child Jesus be made a Doctor of the Church.

The Canadian bishops state in their request that they believe Saint Therese of Lisieux meets the criteria for being declared a Doctor of the Church as laid down by Pope Paul VI in 1970. It was then that he proclaimed the first two women as Doctors of the Church: Saint Teresa of Avila on September 27, and Saint Catherine of Sienna on October 4. Pope Paul VI gave three reasons for his actions:

This request, approved by a majority of Canadian bishops at the recent annual Plenary meeting in Halifax, follows similar requests by the Episcopal Conferences of the United States, France, Spain, Switzerland, Brazil, and Mexico. 1997 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus of Carmel in Lisieux, France.

The title of Doctor of the Church is traditionally granted by an official proclamation of a Pope or General Council to a person already canonized because of his or her great sanctity and his or her eminent learning. However, the requirement about learning is not limited to the person’s ability to teach the faith but also by the clarity and simplicity of their commitment in living out his or her faith.

Archbishop Spence, along with CCCB vice-president Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte of Montreal and Father Emilius Goulet, p.s.s, French-language General Secretary, presented the Pope with the request on the occasion of the CCCB annual visit to the Vatican to meet with the Pope and members of the Roman Curia.