ABC Misleads About 'Demoted' Catholic Saints

Rheana Murray's Saturday article on ABCNews.com omitted key details about how the Catholic Church determines which saints' feast days are observed by Catholic parishes all over the world. Murray noted that the Church "removed 93 saints from the universal calendar and revoked their feast days in 1969," but two out of the four examples she gave still have "optional" feast days on the calendar.

The journalist's write-up, which was also posted on Good Morning America's page on Yahoo!, cited Kean University's Christopher Bellito, who pointed out that these saints "weren't actually de-sainted, just downgraded." Professor Bellito explained that the Church "decided to remove particular feast days of those saints whose origins were shrouded in more mystery than manuscripts."

Murray then tied in the recent canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, and gave her four examples of "famous demoted saints" – St. Christopher, St. Ursula, St. Nicholas, and St. George. While the ABC digital reporter is technically correct that the last two were "demoted," she failed to point out that they still have "optional" feast days.

The St. Nicolas Center, whose aim is to "educate people of faith, and the wider public, about the true St. Nicholas," outlined in an article that "the 1969 Roman Catholic calendar revision did not remove Nicholas when forty saints were taken off. Commemoration of ninety other saints, including Nicholas, was made optional....Nicholas, with all the saints in this group, is still recognized as a real saint in the Roman Catholic Church. It was even stressed that there is no doubt regarding Nicholas' authenticity."

In the case of St. George [depicted above], Pope Francis celebrated his feast day just over a year ago on April 23, 2013. The martyr saint is still the patron saint of England, and the country still marks his feast day with greater pomp than most other saints.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center