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Thanks to Valentine Gallagher in the August AD2000 for his praise of St Thomas Aquinas. We see in his letter that St Thomas is valued by Leo XIII (last century), by the old Canon Law (1918) and by John Paul II (1979). But what of today where we have a new Code of Canon Law and a Pope who has written much since 1979?
St Thomas is as important as ever. The updated Code of Canon Law (1983) says that seminarians are to study theology "with St. Thomas in particular as their teacher" (Can. 252 §3). And in John Paul's Fides et Ratio, which has apparently been quoted against St Thomas, the word "Thomas" is used 18 times and "Angelic Doctor" (another name for the saint) six times.
What is happening then, if the Church on the one hand says it "has no philosophy as her own", yet on the other, praises St Thomas so much? Let John Paul II himself give the answer in Fides et Ratio, 78. "It should be clear in the light of these reflections why the Magisterium has repeatedly acclaimed the merits of Saint Thomas' thought and made him the guide and model for theological studies. This has not been in order to take a position on properly philosophical questions nor to demand adherence to particular theses. The Magisterium's intention has always been to show how Saint Thomas is an authentic model for all who seek the truth. In his thinking, the demands of reason and the power of faith found the most elevated synthesis ever attained by human thought, for he could defend the radical newness introduced by Revelation without ever demeaning the venture proper to reason."
Before positioning oneself on one side or the other about the Church's attitude to Thomistic Philosophy, why not read Fides et Ratio's references to Thomas? Why does John Paul II speak so highly of Aquinas?
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 14 No 8 (September 2001), p. 14
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