The criteria by which we judge whether a writer is a "Father" or not are:
The website ChurchFathers.org mentions the following:
- citation by a general council, or
- in public Acts of popes addressed to the Church or concerning Faith;
- encomium in the Roman Martyrology as "sanctitate et doctrina insignis";
- public reading in Churches in early centuries;
- citations, with praise, as an authority as to the Faith by some of the more celebrated Fathers.
The early Church Fathers fall into three basic categories: Apostolic Fathers, ante-Nicene Church Fathers, and post-Nicene Church Fathers.
The Apostolic Church Fathers were contemporaries of the apostles and were probably taught by them, carrying on the tradition and teaching of the apostles themselves as their direct successors. Examples of Apostolic Fathers would be Clement and Polycarp.
The ante-Nicene Fathers were those who came after the apostolic fathers and before the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. Such individuals as Irenaeus and Justin Martyr are ante-Nicene fathers.
The post-Nicene church fathers are such noted men as Augustine, John Chrysostom, Jerome, and Eusebius.
So that means, that Church Father ARE all from the early first century, right!
Therefore, dead. Right?
Now here is what I discovered. Posted in a fan page in Facebook on November 20, 2010.
Today is the birth anniversary of Fr. Anscar and the memorial of Saint Leo the Great, pope and doctor of the Church; both are Church Fathers.
In fairness to Father Anscar, he does not and will not claim such a title. I know his die-hard fans wrote this.
The least he could do is tell them to edit it.