St. Faustina, Doctor of the Church?

Cardinals Request Honor for Polish Apostle of Divine Mercy

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By Anita S. Bourdin

KRAKOW, Poland, OCT. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- St. Faustina Kowalska may become the fourth woman doctor of the Church.

Cardinals and bishops gathered in Krakow-Lagiewniki for the 2nd World Congress of Divine Mercy have sent a letter to Benedict XVI requesting this recognition.

This news was published live last Sunday by Radio Esperance, which is transmitting the conference through its stations, through WorldSpace satellite and through the Internet.

Polish St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) would join Spanish Carmelite Teresa of Avila, Italian Dominican Catherine of Siena, and French Carmelite Thérèse of Lisieux, the only three women recognized as doctors.

After praying the Angelus in St. Peter's Square last Sunday, Benedict XVI addressed a message to the close to 2,000 participants in the congress, making reference to its topic.

"Dearly beloved, reinforce your trust in the Lord through common reflection and prayer so that you will take effectively to the world the joyful message that 'mercy is the source of hope,'" he exhorted.

Following the message was the announcement of an Italian-language letter with signatories including some of the prelates present, among them Cardinals Stanisław Dziwisz, Franciszek Macharski, Stanisław Ryłko, Audrys Juozas Backis, Philippe Xavier Barbarin, Christoph Schönborn, and Joseph Zen. 

These prelates thanked Pope Benedict XVI for the beatification of the "Servant of Mercy" John Paul II.

And they added a request: that he allow the opening of the cause to recognize St. Faustina as a doctor, to promote the message of Divine Mercy worldwide.

Cardinal Dziwisz announced that participants in the congress would be invited to sign the petition in favor of the recognition.

Just last August, Benedict XVI bestowed the honor of doctor of the Church on St. John of Avila, who will become the Church's 34th doctor.

St. John of Avila -- not to be confused with St. John of the Cross, who was St. Teresa of Avila's partner in reforming the Carmelites -- is known as the Apostle of Andalusia. He is the patron of Spanish diocesan clergy.

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On ZENIT's Web page:

More information on the Divine Mercy congress: www.zenit.org/article-32980?l=english