VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has said he intends to declare a Doctor of the Church of St. Irenaeus of Lyon, the 2nd-century theologian known for his defense of orthodoxy in the midst of the rise of Gnostic sects.
In a meeting on October 7 with members of the joint Orthodox-Catholic Saint-Irenaeus working group, the Pope praised the group’s efforts to create a space for dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox Christians, just like their namesake.
âYour patron saint, Saint Irenaeus of Lyons – whom I will soon declare doctor of the Church with the title of” doctor unitatis “(” doctor of unity “) – came from the East, exercised his episcopal ministry in the West. , and was a great spiritual and theological bridge between Eastern and Western Christians, âhe said.
âSt. Irenaeus … was a great spiritual and theological bridge between Christians of East and West,â said Pope Francis.
According to its website, the objective of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Saint-IrÃ©nÃ©e Working Group is “to study the profound differences in mentality, ways of thinking and doing theology which are linked to the current problems of Orthodox dialogue. Catholic, to understand their character, and to try to see how the two traditions can enrich each other without losing their own identity.
Saint Irenaeus, the group’s website said, “is revered as a patristic father in the Eastern and Western churches” and “thus represents an example of the spiritual bond between the churches of the East and the West, which the task force seeks to promote through its discussions.
Born in Smyrna, Asia Minor – today’s Turkey today – Saint Irenaeus was known as a staunch defender of the faith.
Once declared, Saint Irenaeus would be the second church physician appointed by Pope Francis after Saint Gregory of Narek, who received the designation in 2015.
Concerned about the rise of Gnostic sects within the early Christian church, he wrote “Adversus haereses” (“Against heresies”), a refutation of Gnostic beliefs which emphasized personal spiritual knowledge rather than faith. in Christian teachings and in ecclesiastical authority.
At their 2019 fall assembly, the American Bishops’ Conference assented to a motion by the Archdiocese of Lyon, France – the region where Saint Irenaeus ministered – for the 2nd century bishop be declared a doctor of the church.
When declared, Saint Irenaeus would be the second doctor of the church appointed by Pope Francis after Saint Gregory of Narek, who received the designation in 2015. He would bring the total number of doctors of the church to 37.