Dr. OP: Catherine of Siena Print
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 04 October 2010 11:04

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Pope Paul VI's proclamation of St. Catherine of Siena as "Doctor of the Church"

Few of us understand the process that goes into such a declaration but Sr. Suzanne Noffke, OP's long, detailed, and fascinating article in the April, 2003 issue of Theology Today is available online.  Nofkke writes:

"The ecclesiastical doctorates of these women mystics-Catherine, Teresa, Therese-are often looked upon as something of a courteous nicety, a concession to feminist sensitivities. Surely they cannot be taken seriously as theologians! Do they-does Catherine in particular-deserve the title on theological grounds?


"It was just over five hundred years later that Pope Paul VI, on the feast of Teresa of Avila in 1967, told the World Congress on the Apostolate of the Laity of his dream that Teresa and Catherine should be the first women to be proclaimed doctors of the church. By December of that same year, the process was in full swing. The Congregation of Rites asked whether that title could in fact be given to a woman, especially in view of Saint Paul's strictures. They unanimously answered their own question in the affirmative the following March; the pope concurred.

There are actually three formal requirements for granting the doctorate in the church. The first, outstanding holiness, already had been attested to in Catherine's case in her canonization. The second, the testimony of popes or general councils, was easily garnered. The third, distinguished teaching, was yet to be judged and would be the chief topic of investigation. Letters of postulation (petition), the affirmation of the Dominican general chapter, and a formal petition from the master of the Dominican Order, Aniceto Fernandez, carried the process forward. Supportive monographs and articles were gathered as resources for the official advocates, censors, and others whose work would lead to the final positive decision. What were the reasons put forward for that decision?"

Some of the responses were unintentionally funny and show that even in 1970, some things were slow to change:   As when the Dominican master general asks of Catherine's Dialogue: "How could one imagine or believe that this was written by a woman?"

The article provides a fascinating window into the whole process of determining a doctor of the Church, a process that we may soon be witnessing again with Blessed John Henry Newman.


I just have to end on a very low note cause this has been rumbling around inside for years, screaming to get out.

I was feeling so bad
I asked my family doctor just what I had
I said "Doctor, Doctor. Missus OP.
Now can you tell me what's ailing me? Doctor?

It is stunning what you can find on You Tube.  

It is right up there with "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be OP's . ."