Frank A. wrote:

Hi, guys —

I recently read a column where the author says,

"The actual term we have translated into devil's advocate was promoter fidei
the promoter of the faith."

  • For starters, is this true?

The columnist concluded with the following statement:

Pope John Paul II eliminated the position of promoter fidei in 1983, ending 400 years of tradition. Since then, saints have been canonized at a rate about 20 times faster than in the early part of the twentieth century. Apparently it's now like the multiple Who's Who reference guides. If you're nominated, you're in. There's no opposition, thus it's lost it's meaning. And with no opposition, your great idea may not be developed to be of much importance.

  • Is this true or is this an incorrect interpretation of what Pope John Paul II did?

Best Regards,


  { Can you answer some questions about the devil's advocate and the term promoter fidei? }

Mike replied:

Hi Frank,

I'm not sure I can help that much. Based on what the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia states, yes, it appears to be true. The actual term we have translated into devil's advocate is promoter fidei or the promoter of the faith. This article on the New Advent web site may be helpful:

As to your second question. I found this answer in Catholic Answers Forum that may help:

Subject line: The office of the devil's advocate.

RosesForMary wrote:


  • My question is simply, why was this office abolished?
  • Is there now a new system which catches up the duties of the old office?

If not, it seems to me that, for outsiders to Catholicism, this has surely removed some credibility from the Church.

I have only really read about the suppression of this office in the secular press, who seem to state that it was purely to speed things up or make it easier to declare people saints. So, I'm hoping for a better explanation than that!



Senior Member OutinChgoburbs replied:

I think the title devil's advocate was not formal, but a sort of nickname.

Here is the old way from the Catholic Encyclopedia (circa 1907):

You will note mention of the promoter of the faith not Devil's advocate.

And here is something more modern:

What you now have is a formal panel, not one person. A whole lot of people is better than one person.


I have no idea why Blessed John Paul II eliminated the use of the term and would only be able to speculate.

I would note the vast difference between faithful, practicing Catholics and the secular press.
Faithful Catholics trust decisions of the Church on who is, or is not, a saint because those decisions are guided by the Holy Spirit.

Saints are models that the Church holds up to encourage all Christians to follow Jesus more closely, as the lives of the saints did.

In general, I doubt the secular press believes the Holy Spirit is guiding the Catholic Church :-)


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