“What about all the Saints who have been involved with violence? Should they be struck from the Calendar of Saints? Were they Saints?”
Obviously St Joan of Arc is a top candidate in this issue, but I will also try to address several of the other big names too like; St Louis IX, St Vladimir of Kiev, St. James the Moor Slayer, St Bernard of Clairvaux, St Francis, St Dominic, Constantine and on.
Again this is a very common question. My answer has been essentially – “They were wrong”. Should they be struck from the Calendar? my answer – “if they continue to be a rallying point of error, then yes”. Were they Saints? my answer – “I hope so, but certainly not because they were violent, they would be Saints because of Gods Grace”. But because there are a lot of people who esteem St Joan of Arc (she’s a bit of a banner for Catholic women, especially the more traditionalist, and of course all the French and St Joan has been made practically the patron of Traditionalism) so I needed some help on this.
Father Emmanuel McCarthy wrote an excellent article on St Joan of Arc – A Warning to End the Constantinian Era Not a Loophole to Continue the Constantinian Era.
FrECM: As regards Constantine he is not a saint in the Roman Catholic Church but he is in the Orthodox Churches. The formal declaration of sainthood is considered an infallible declaration. But, it is infallible only to the extent that it declares a person is in heaven. St. Thomas Aquinas justified burning Jews and heretics at the stake, yet he is a saint. As Dorothy Day use to say, “If you follow a saint in what he did that was not Christlike, you go to hell.” All saints with the exception of Mary are sinners. All saints have engaged in culpable and non-culpable evil. The infallible statement of canonization goes only to the person being in heaven, not to anything else. All else is non-infallible. I want, hope and I pray daily that all go to heaven. If “X” person is there regardless of how ignorant, wrong or delusional he or she is, then, “Thank God!” But, we must remember non-culpable ignorance is not sin, just as non-freely chosen activity is not sin. Only God knows how free any person was and what in fact that person knew at the moment he or she acted. And,“The supreme attribute of God is mercy” (John Paul II, in his Encyclical, Dives et Misericordia – Rich in Mercy). So, judgement about whether one has sinned or not, whether one goes to heaven or not is God’s, but that does not change the teachings of Jesus, the Original Tradition of the Church or the Gospels in regard to how the follower of Jesus is called to live. What is worthy of imitation in the life of a saint is discerned by evaluating his or her actions in light of the words and deeds, teachings and promises of the Word (Logos) “made flesh,” Jesus—not vice-versa.