(Continued from Part 1)
I will be looking at graduate schools pretty soon for theology or, possibly, philosophy. I am interested primarily in learning the traditional teaching of the Church, particularly in the Thomistic tradition. I am utterly uninterested in learning analytic philosophy, analytic theology, analytic Thomism, etc. Of the schools you listed that were open to laymen, which of them would you say is the most traditional? I am open to going pretty much anywhere, even Europe if need be. Also, from the website says, Christ the King College is not accredited, so, while it looks like it offers a great education, I am afraid the practical matter of needing a job to have a family would preclude that option.
-If you are a layman looking for a degree, I would recommend you stick to Philosophy as your major, rather than Theology. There are far more (and better) orthodox philosophy departments offering Thomistic studies than there are theology departments.
For theology, I would recommend you stay away from all of those listed in my previous post (see Schools that Teach the Philosophy of St. Thomas, Pt. 1) except perhaps nos. 2, 3, 14, 19, & 22, which are ok (just ok, not great). And even if the education you get at these last five is ok, you are still going to have a hard time getting a job as an orthodox Thomistic theologian. You certainly will not get a prestigious position at some Ivy-League theology department; those are reserved for totally heterodox, feministic, etc. "theologians." And most likely you will not get into an orthodox Thomistic theology department (those are populated by Dominican friars). And even then, to get a job at a prestigious-but-not-so-orthodox Catholic theology department (e.g., Catholic U., Notre Dame, Marquette), you will have to masquerade many, many times as a modernist-minded scholar in your job interviews so that they like you. And if you are hired, you'll be looked at as a mere medieval antiquarian and will be expected to respect dissent, liberalism, modernism, feminism, (false) ecumenism, etc., etc., as "alternate" acceptable religious positions, since nearly 100% of your colleagues subscribe to one or more them.
I'm not saying it's impossible for you to be a hard-core Thomistic theologian and get an academic position in a good theology department, but only an incredible amount of wits, sacrifice, and the miraculous intercession of St. Joseph, will get you that. I myself have a very strong desire to pursue advanced graduate studies in Theology, but I just don't want to put my family through six or so years of poverty just so that I can get a mediocre job where I cannot teach anything beyond the basics of Catholic doctrine, or else a prestigious job where I will be pressured into compromising the certainty of the Catholic faith.
But for philosophy, it is a different story. Thomistic philosophy tends to be more accepted even among non-Catholic circles, and so Thomistic philosophers tend to be more orthodox because they do not need to put up with so much junk. So I would say that all the schools that I listed are ok for Thomistic philosophy in general--again, not great, just ok.
But if what you're looking to study is specifically non-analytic Thomistic philosophy, then that excludes nos. 7, 8, 17, 18, 21, and 23. These last six schools are heavily Analytic. The others, although they might do a bit of "Analytic Thomism," at least offer some other "brand" of Thomism, which primarily includes "Historical" Thomism (e.g., nos. 12, 15, and most of the continental European universities), and some, but never a whole lot of, plain old traditional Thomism.
In any case, by far the best is no. 22, Thomas Aquinas College (TAC), although it is still far from the ideal. They offer a very good Thomistic philosophical formation, based on an in-depth knowledge of the primary texts of Aquinas himself (primarily the Summa). However, like I said in the post, they are not that interested in the venerable Thomistic tradition that has developed Aquinas' thought throughout the centuries. And anyway TAC offers only a B.A.; it does not have a graduate program. So you're going to have to look for the next-best, which would be no. 14, the Dominican House of Studies, and also no. 2, The University of Fribourg (French Theology Faculty).
In the end, however, I cannot help but recommend Christ the King College, at least as a supplemental curriculum. Almost every course is centered BOTH on a traditional scholastic manual AND on Aquinas' primary texts (mainly the commentaries on Aristotle, and NOT the Summa, since the Summa is a theological, not philosophical text), so we get the advantage of knowing Aquinas' philosophical texts first-hand, while also getting very well acquainted with the Thomistic tradition. Also, every course is based on the traditional Thomistic division of the sciences, which NONE of the schools listed follows---that is why our philosophy courses focus on Aquinas' properly philosophical texts (e.g., the Commentaries) and not on the Summa, because we want to operate under the traditional understanding of the proper place and methodology of each science. (For more on this, see my post on the "Division and Order of the Sciences.")
So I believe (humbly) that the philosophy curriculum at Christ the King College, which is designed to make NO compromise or watering-down of doctrine, will put you light-years ahead of what you'll learn in any program elsewhere (even graduate programs) as far as authentic Thomism goes. And you don't have to enroll as a full-time student to be able to take the courses. If you take them as non-credit (audit) courses, you still get the course materials for a significantly lower course fee. And we at the College can really use the help! We need enrollment (even if just non-credit enrollment) to keep the college running.
I hope this helps.
Sancta Catharina de Alexandria,
Patrona philosophorum, Ora pro nobis!