Why isn’t St. Ignatius of Loyola a Doctor of the Church?
With recent news that Pope Benedict XVI will appoint Hildegard von BingenÂ as a Doctor of the Church, I am once again asking (okay, shouting), â€œWhy isnâ€™t St. Ignatius of Loyola a Doctor of the Church?!â€ No offense, Hilde. Iâ€™m really eager to get toÂ know you better â€“ after all, you will be just the fourth womanÂ to make this esteemed list. But I am perplexed why someone who has made such lasting contributions to the Church hasnâ€™t also been formally recognized as a Doctor.Â Now that legendary Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron SantoÂ will finally be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, maybe I should champion the cause for Iggy to get his seat among the Doctors of the Church?
But let’s back up. Maybe I am asking the wrong question? Should the question(s) instead be: What is a Doctor of the Church andÂ How does one become named a Doctor?Â
Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia states: “‘Doctor of the Church’ is the title ascribed to a select few writers whose tremendous erudition and insight have been of fundamental importance in the development of Catholic learning. The title does not imply, however, that the entirety of their writing is free of errors.â€
As asserted by Dr. Marcellino Dâ€™Ambrosio, Catholic theologian and speaker, there are three requirements that must be fulfilled in order to merit beingÂ included in the ranks of theÂ Doctors of the Catholic Church:
- HolinessÂ that is truly outstanding, even among saints;
- Depth of doctrinal insight; and
- An extensive body of writingsÂ that the church can recomÂmend as an expression of the authentic and life-giving Catholic Tradition.
Dâ€™AmbrosioÂ also asserts that theÂ official designation of Doctor is bestowed by the Pope or a proclamation ofÂ anÂ ecumenical council.
So let’s unpack this . . .
1. HolinessÂ that is truly outstanding, even among saints
Ignatius was a sixteenth-century soldier-turned-mystic who founded a Catholic religious order called the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits.Â The Jesuits have been responsible for some rather remarkable accomplishments including:
- Revitalizing Catholicism and meeting the challenge of the Protestant Reformation;
- Establishing schools, colleges, universities, and seminaries throughout the world. In the United States alone, Jesuits today run 28 post-secondary schools, dozens of high schools, and even some inner-city middle schools;
- Founding religious missions in India, Japan, China, South & North America;
- And for what itâ€™s worth, 35 craters on the surface of the moon are named for Jesuit scientists.
2. Depth of doctrinal insight
Beyond the impact the Jesuits have accomplished for the Church, Ignatius left a mark unparalleled in modern timesÂ with hisÂ The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. These Spiritual Exercises have provided guidance and encouragement to millions over time.Â Pope Benedict XVI even states: â€œThe Excercises are the fountain of your spirituality and the matrix of your Constitutions, but they are also a gift that the Spirit of the Lord has made to the entire Church: it is for you to continue to make it a precious and efficacious instrument for spiritual growth of souls.â€
3. Extensive body of writingsÂ that the church can recomÂmend as an expression of the authentic and life-giving Catholic Tradition
St. Ignatius of Loyola has an impressive body of writings. Beyond the aforementioned Spiritual Exercises,Â St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote nearlyÂ 7,000 lettersÂ which are regarded by Jesuits as an important source of their spirituality.
So Iâ€™m back to my original question:Â Why isnâ€™t St. Ignatius of Loyola a Doctor of the Church?Â Granted I’m a simpleton in this area, but it seems he meets the criteria described above. Hasn’t he contributed significantly to the formulation of Christian teaching? Haven’t his works proved useful to Christians throughout several ages?
What am I missing? Educate me, please.Â