Thursday, July 29, 2010

Any Ideas on How to Reconcile These? (John Paul II's Fides et ratio & the Pre-Conciliar Popes)


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How can we reconcile this:

"The Church has no philosophy of her own nor does she canonize any one particular philosophy in preference to others. (Cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Humani generis (12 August 1950): AAS 42 (1950), 566.) The underlying reason for this reluctance is that, even when it engages theology, philosophy must remain faithful to its own principles and methods. Otherwise there would be no guarantee that it would remain oriented to truth and that it was moving towards truth by way of a process governed by reason. A philosophy which did not proceed in the light of reason according to its own principles and methods would serve little purpose. At the deepest level, the autonomy which philosophy enjoys is rooted in the fact that reason is by its nature oriented to truth and is equipped moreover with the means necessary to arrive at truth. A philosophy conscious of this as its “constitutive status” cannot but respect the demands and the data of revealed truth."
"Suam ipsius philosophiam non exhibet Ecclesia, neque quamlibet praelegit peculiarem philosophiam aliarum damno. [Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Humani generis (12 Augusti 1950): AAS 42 (1950), 566.] Recondita huius temperantiae causa in eo reperitur quod philosophia, etiam cum necessitudinem instituit cum theologia, secundum suam rationem suasque regulas agere debet; nullo modo alioquin cavetur ut illa ad veritatem vergat et ad eam per cursum ratione perpendendum tendat. Levis auxilii esset quaedam philosophia quae non procederet ratione gubernante secundum sua ipsius principia peculiaresque methodologias. Quod huius rei caput est, autonomiae radix, qua philosophia fruitur, in eo invenitur quod ratio natura sua ad veritatem vergit ipsaque praeterea ad eam consequendam necessaria habet instrumenta. Philosophia huius « statuti constitutivi » sibi conscia facere non potest quin servet necessitates quoque et perspicuitates veritatis revelatae proprias." (Pope John Paul II, Fides et ratio, § 49).

With this?


"Thomas should be called not only the Angelic, but also the Common or Universal Doctor of the Church; for the Church has adopted his philosophy for her own, as innumerable documents of every kind attest (cuius doctrinam, ut quam plurimis in omni genere litterarum monumentis testata est, suam Ecclesia fecerit)." (Pope Pius XI, Studiorum Ducem, § 11).

Or with the fact that Pope Benedict XV called the Twenty Four Thomistic Theses "the preferred doctrine of the Church" (in his letter to Fr. Edouard Hugon concerning his book on the said theses)?

Notice that the text of Fides et ratio cites Ven. Pope Pius XII's Humani generis. No particular text of Humani generis is referred to, but just the document in general. Humani generis does address the relationship between philosophy and the Church, yet it does not say what Fides et ratio says.  Rather, if we look at that encyclical as a whole, far from supporting the Fides et ratio claim, it seems rather to push in the opposite direction, going as far as calling scholastic philosophy "Our philosophy" and "Our perennial philosophy":

"14. In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents. 
15. Moreover, they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.
16. It is evident from what We have already said, that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism, but that they actually contain it. The contempt of doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it is expressed strongly favor it. Everyone is aware that the terminology employed in the schools and even that used by the Teaching Authority of the Church itself is capable of being perfected and polished; and we know also that the Church itself has not always used the same terms in the same way. It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deducing, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been used by the Oecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them....
30. Of course this philosophy deals with much that neither directly nor indirectly touches faith or morals, and which consequently the Church leaves to the free discussion of experts. But this does not hold for many other things, especially those principles and fundamental tenets to which We have just referred. However, even in these fundamental questions, we may clothe our philosophy in a more convenient and richer dress, make it more vigorous with a more effective terminology, divest it of certain scholastic aids found less useful, prudently enrich it with the fruits of progress of the human mind. But never may we overthrow it, or contaminate it with false principles, or regard it as a great, but obsolete, relic. For truth and its philosophic expression cannot change from day to day, least of all where there is question of self-evident principles of the human mind or of those propositions which are supported by the wisdom of the ages and by divine revelation. Whatever new truth the sincere human mind is able to find, certainly cannot be opposed to truth already acquired, since God, the highest Truth, has created and guides the human intellect, not that it may daily oppose new truths to rightly established ones, but rather that, having eliminated errors which may have crept in, it may build truth upon truth in the same order and structure that exist in reality, the source of truth. Let no Christian therefore, whether philosopher or theologian, embrace eagerly and lightly whatever novelty happens to be thought up from day to day, but rather let him weigh it with painstaking care and a balanced judgment, lest he lose or corrupt the truth he already has, with grave danger and damage to his faith.
31. If one considers all this well, he will easily see why the Church demands that future priests be instructed in philosophy "according to the method, doctrine, and principles of the Angelic Doctor" (ad Angelici Doctoris rationem, doctrinam et principia), since, as we well know from the experience of centuries, the method of Aquinas (Aquinatis methodum ac rationem) is singularly preeminent (singulari praestantia eminere) both for teaching students and for bringing truth to light; his doctrine is in harmony with divine revelation, and is most effective both for safeguarding the foundation of the faith, and for reaping, safely and usefully, the fruits of sound progress.[9]....
32. How deplorable it is then that this philosophy, received and honored by the Church (philosophiam in Ecclesia receptam ac agnitam), is scorned by some, who shamelessly call it outmoded in form and rationalistic, as they say, in its method of thought. They say that this philosophy upholds the erroneous notion that there can be a metaphysic that is absolutely true; whereas in fact, they say, reality, especially transcendent reality, cannot better be expressed than by disparate teachings, which mutually complete each other, although they are in a way mutually opposed. Our traditional philosophy (philosophiam nostris traditam scholis), then, with its clear exposition and solution of questions, its accurate definition of terms, its clear-cut distinctions, can be, they concede, useful as a preparation for scholastic theology, a preparation quite in accord with medieval mentality; but this philosophy hardly offers a method of philosophizing suited to the needs of our modern culture. They allege, finally, that our perennial philosophy (philosophiam perennem) is only a philosophy of immutable essences, while the contemporary mind must look to the existence of things and to life, which is ever in flux. While scorning our philosophy, they extol other philosophies of all kinds, ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem to imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with a few additions and corrections if need be, can be reconciled with Catholic dogma. No Catholic can doubt how false this is, especially where there is question of those fictitious theories they call immanentism, or idealism, or materialism, whether historic or dialectic, or even existentialism, whether atheistic or simply the type that denies the validity of the reason in the field of metaphysics.

Is Fides et ratio's reference to Humani generis an error, then?  Or perhaps it is a tacit attempt to cushion the extreme claim that the Church has no philosophy?  How do we reconcile these two claims?  Or maybe the two doctrines are irreconcilable?  Any comments would be appreciated.


24 comments:

Joe said...

I think the answer to this is two-fold in that JP2 is saying 1) that the The Church has no philosophy of her own and 2) She does not canonize any one particular philosophy in preference to others. To the first part I would say that while Benedict says that Aquinas is the "preferred doctrine", and while Pius XII in Studiorem Ducem says that the Church has adopted his philosophy for her own, as well as Pius XII's comment from Humani Generis #31, this still doesn't clearly state that the philosophy of Aquinas is the Church's philosophy in the sense that it excludes all others. This is shown in the very same Humani Generis as well as in Fides et Ratio, where it clearly tries to make sure that philosophy is subject to the theology and not vice-versa. The issue is that, according to Humani Generis, that there are all kinds of new philosophical theories which may sound good, but don't past the test of theology. As well, when it comes to why Aquinas isn't the Church's official purveyor of philosophy is because we have areas in which he is deficient that either are taken up by other philosophers, or perhaps cannot simply be explained in philosophy. or that Aquinas simply doesn't talk about. This is not to say that Aquinas is to be shunned as a philosopher, but rather that he is preeminent, in terms of total philosophical understanding, and as such to be studied and understood by all with the basic understanding that Theology is the trump card, if you will, that can say that any philosopher, no matter how preeminent they are is superseded by the Theological understanding and that the philosophy must be in complete subjection to the theology and not vice-versa.

Now to the second part, I would have to say that we have to be lenient with JP2 and understand it from the context of how I explained the first part, which I hopefully have answered in a sufficient way. With it being understood that there is no one particular philosopher that can speak perfectly for the Church, it would then logically follow that it cannot canonize any one particular philosophy. I understand this "canonization" in the sense that the Church is not degrading the marvelous work that Aquinas has done in the fields of philosophy and theology, but rather it understands that the both the individual writing the philosophy and the individuals who govern the Church are all finite individuals who may understand things in their current context to be the case, but to definitively cut off any further thought and say that, for example, Aquinas is the final proclamation of all philosophy would be doing a disservice not only to the present philosophers who strive to answer the questions better, but also to any future endeavors that could, perhaps, answer the questions better. I think it is always a safe thing to say that while Aquinas is a preferred thinker and "mentor" of sorts and is going to be the litmus test and the standard against which all future philosophical thought is measured is praise enough. But to simply canonize it in terms of its full voracity when it doesn't explain everything would simply be setting up the Church for failure, as it will.

When it comes to philosophical thought, Aquinas (and others) may have it right, for now, but lets leave ourselves a bit of latitude in the chance that someone may do it better. While that possibility, to us, may not seem to be a real possibility, I'm sure people thought the same way about Augustine and others, when they read and understood them. Maybe it just takes 1000 or so years for thought to "evolve" in such a way that we can derive a new paradigm or context from which to view it. It would seem that though does this, when it develops over time. The context from which the question is asked, changes, and lends itself to a new way to ask the same question, ultimately giving us a new way to understand the theology we affirm and believe in.

Andrés Esteban López Ruiz CCR said...

I have been thinking in the same issue for a while. The thing is, fides et ratio, studiorem ducem or even aeterni patris are all encyclical letters so the have the same theological value as an act of ordinary teaching of the pope "magisterium"

But the problem is that if we accept that "fides et ratio" cannot be re-conciliated in this point with the pre-conciliar popes, we would be in a dilemma. One of them must be wrong. And in this case is easier to say that pope JPII it is wrong because his statement it is not enforced by any other act of "magisterium" previous to the one he is doing at that point. And in the other hand there is a traditional line of "magisteria" with holds the same teaching supporting Thomism as the philosophy adopted by the church.

This is indeed a difficult issue but an important one. Gilson says that there can be a reconciliation. He says that when Leo XIII calls St. Thomas "Doctor comunis" he means two things. He is the model of christian philosophy, and he is also a teacher that all catholic philosopher must hear regardless of any other particular orientation that they might have. So this reconciliation would find acceptable for Christian philosophers to study and develop philosophical knowledge that are not directly related to St. Thomas, but they are obligated to go to St. Thomas to see what he has to say (as disciples) in the subject that they are attending to and to find, if they want to be coherent with the teachings of the church, they proper manner to reconciliate that new perspective with the general conception of reality of St. Thomas. That would be something like saying that to study another philosophy would be good if it helps you to deeper your understanding of Thomism, or better, your understanding of reality throw Thomism.

So at this point if we follow Gilson idea, a christian phylosopher might study any other philosophical tradition that helps him to understand better St. Thomas. And i think this is what some philosophers that have gone to Husserl or to Frege, Russel or Wittgenstein are trying to do. But if someone choses phenomenology(or semiotics) in this perspective, cannot chose it as if it where a complete system and avoid St. Thomas. They must go to St. Thomas too. And if they do it correctly they can help christian philosophy in his mission.

I do not say that Gilson solution is the only solution nor is perfect. I just mention it for the discussion. I think that this interpretation gives us a chance to consider the "fides et ratio" teaching not to be wrong. As if this encyclical letter said: As catholic you may go to other philosophers, but (an this is where tradition goes in) you have to go to St. Thomas, and remember that his doctrine is free from error and he is your teacher so you have to learn from him, and then reconsider what other philosopher might have taught you.

This would be fair for St. Thomas himself, because at his time all theology went to St. Augustine and to Plato, but he went to Aristotle. But when he went to Aristotle he did not do that without having as his main guide and teacher in St. Augustine. And what he found was a better way to understand faith and the teachings of the fathers by the enlightenment of Aristotle. But he did not betrayed St. Augustine.

I would like to hear any other possibles interpretations that helps us to avoid telling that JPII taught something wrong in an encyclical.

papabear said...

I'm working on a more extended response at my blog, but here are some beginning reflections:

John Paul wishes to claim that there is a legitimate plurality of philosophical systems, and it is not the task or competence of the Magisterium to rectify deficiences in a system, only to judge what is compatible with the Faith and what is not.

Nonetheless, there is a core of truths that can be called implicit philosophy, which is shared by all systems to one degree or another. (This is similar to the perennial philosophy of apologists for Thomism?)

(Hence, John Paul II is able to talk about philosophy, human reason, and knowledege, and other fundamental truths.)

Although he does not say that the implicit philosophy is the philosophy of the Church, I don't think that it would be a stretch to claim that it functions as such, and provides the basis for judging the soundness and coherence of philosophical systems.

(Not that I think agree with his terminology or with the claims he makes about philosophical systems, but I'm attempting to explain his position on his own terms first.)

The question is, then, whether this implicit philosophy "large" enough that it encompasses "our philosophy" of which previous popes speak?

Nick said...

Here is a proposed solution:

Thomism is the normative philosophy, but this should not be used to degrade other legitimate Catholic philosophies, most notably that of the Eastern Catholics. There is also a blog devoted to Bl Duns Scotus, which I'm sure you're aware of, and they take pride in explaining Catholic truths according to Scotus' often as a friendly "alternative" to Thomas.

The main danger I see one could read from the first quote of JPII is that Philosophy can be and is divorced from Revelation/Theology. That's textbook Modernism though, which basically gives atheism "home field advantage" when speaking on philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Here is a direct quote from Humani Generis, Paragraph 16: "Everyone is aware that the terminology employed in the schools and even that used by the Teaching Authority of the Church itself is capable of being perfected and polished; and we know also that the Church itself has not always used the same terms in the same way. It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deducing, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been used by the Oecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them."
I do not see anything any closer to the quote attributed to Humani generis in JPII's encyclical than this wording. As anyone can see, this quote has an entirely different meaning than the one JPII is using. What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

Like so many of John Paul's opinions, this one cannot be reconciled with traditional doctrine. It stands in complete contradiction to the texts cited. Another example can be found in Ut Unum Sint wherein he boldly claims that the only desire of the Church is to be a free Church in a free State. "Taught by the events of her history, the Church is committed to freeing herself from every purely human support, in order to live in depth the Gospel law of the Beatitudes. Conscious that the truth does not impose itself except 'by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power', she seeks nothing for herself but the freedom to proclaim the Gospel. Indeed, her authority is exercised in the service of truth and charity. John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, para. 3. An explicit liberal axiom.

This also contains another grave theological error, namely that the truth of faith are evident and thus is capable of moving the intellect of itself. This is contrary to Vatican I wherein it is stated: "This faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, the Catholic Church professes to be a supernatural virtue, by means of which, with the grace of God inspiring and assisting us, we believe to be true what He has revealed, not because we perceive its intrinsic truth by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself"

Travis Cooper said...

I spent quite a bit of time pondering this also, a few weeks back, while writing an article on a very closely related topic.

The first thing that must be said, though perhaps at the risk of stating the obvious, is this: any contradiction between these statements is outside the realm of dogma, doctrine, theological teaching, etc. The 24 theses, although proffered by the Church as sure norms of sound philosophy, do not bind the faithful to give assent of intellect and will. (I believe this was expressly stated by Benedict XV himself.) This means the Church makes no definitive claims about purely philosophical matters, only about those philosophical questions/theses that bear directly on faith and morals.

Given this, one might easily interpret JPII's statement as saying this: the Church in her "official" capacity as guardian of revealed truth has no official philosophy, and the Church does not point to any particular philosophical school or system and identify it as the Catholic philosophy. One might then interpret Pius XI as saying this: the Church in her "unofficial" capacity -- i.e., as recommending for study, as concerned with the training of seminarians, as presenting certain truths to men while appealing only to human reason, as utilizing certain terms and concepts in her doctrinal formulations -- has adopted Thomas's philosophy.

We must keep in mind, however, the distinct possibility that the shift/contradiction in question might reflect a deeper understanding of the Church gained over time (this would, of course, not be possible in a matter of doctrine, whether faith or morals).

Geremia said...

There is also Pope Paul VI's Lumen ecclesiæ 29.:
[...] to be a faithful disciple of St. Thomas today, it is not enough to want to do in our time and with the means available today that which he did in his. Contenting oneself with imitating him, like walking on a parallel street without nothing to draw from him, one would with difficulty arrive at a positive result or, at least, offer to the Church and to the world that contribution of wisdom which they need. One cannot, in fact, speak of true and fecund loyalty if one does not receive, almost from his own hands, his principles which also illuminate the most important problems of philosophy and the better understanding of the faith in these our times and, similarly, the fundamental notions of his system and his ideas-force. Only so, the thought of the Angelic Doctor, confronted always with new contributions of profane science, will meet—through a sort of mutual osmosis—a new, thriving, lively development. [my translation of the Italian]

versus Pope John Paul II's 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.

These articles might help, too:
Fides et Ratio and the Changed Status of Thomism
and
Thomism and the Nouvelle Théologie, in The Thomist

Gregory the Eremite said...

I was just about to post a long answer to this question when I thought that I should check the official latin text of "fides et ratio". Lo and behold, I find that the official translation leaves much to be desired! The latin text reads:

"Suam ipsius philosophiam non exhibet Ecclesia, neque quamlibet praelegit peculiarem philosophiam aliarum damno."

The sense here appears to be that Holy Mother Church does not favour one particular philosophy to the detriment of others, inasmuch as they may teach some truth. This would seem to be in concord with the teaching of Aquinas himself (in Question 2, Article 3 of his commentary on Boethius' de Trinitate).

Also, the reference made by “fides et ratio” to the teaching of “humani generis” at this point may be an instruction to “interpret what is here in the light of the teaching of humani generis” rather than a claim that “fides et ratio” is quoting “humani generis”. In other words, not any old flavour-of-the-month philosophy, nor any old “pastoral” reason for using such a philosophy will suffice; the truth is the measure of its usefulness.

This point has been spotted by others previously: try a web-search on the phrase “neque quamlibet praelegit peculiarem philosophiam aliarum damno.” To see what others have noticed about this translation.

M. Rafael said...

I always thought Fat Tom was a theologian and anything he treated, except his commentaries on Aristotle, was formally theology. Our salvation is not formally dependent on adopting a philosophical method, even if such a method is the the "true" one. Can a philosophy be declared de fide? I do not believe the quote is dishonest but it may be an attempt or legitimize a theology done from another perspective other than Thomas.

Anonymous said...

There is no way to reconcile these contradictory statements.

Aelianus said...

Might one not argue that the tenets of St Thomas 'unreservedly sanctioned' by the Church, although taught by the Church to be knowable by natural reason, are sanctioned because they are virtually contained in Divine Revelation (as necessary for its articulation) rather than as a philosophy (even though they do happen to constitute a philosophy)? Consequently the Church teaches the truth of these naturally knowable truths as naturally knowable but on account of their place in revelation. The Church would not presume to teach naturally knowable truths that were not connected to revelation in this way. Thus the Church is only per accidens adopting a philosophy.

Anonymous said...

The prolixity of comments in this case betrays their strained and untenable nature.

Look at the propositions again:

"The Church has no philosophy of her own nor does she canonize any one particular philosophy in preference to others."

"[T]he Church has adopted his philosophy for her own, as innumerable documents of every kind attest"

See also:

“The professors should by all means treat of the rational philosophy and theology, and the training of the students in these subjects according to the method, doctrine and principles of the Angelic Doctor (Aquinas), and should hold these as “sacred." Code of Canon Law, Can. 1366, n.2

"Thomism is concerned primarily with principles and doctrinal order, wherein lie its unity and its power. Eclecticism, led by a false idea of fraternal charity, seeks to harmonize all systems of philosophy and theology. Especially after Pope Leo XIII the Church has repeatedly declared that she holds to Thomism; but eclecticism says equivalently: Very well, let us accept Thomism, but not be too explicit in contradicting doctrines opposed to Thomism. Let us cultivate harmony as much as possible." Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, Reality - A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought

What gentlemen do not seem to grasp is that John Paul had a very different understanding of the nature and purpose of philosophy with regard to theology and revelation itself, thus to affirm that the Church had adopted a philosophy was unintelligible to him. He also had a very different understanding of the Church which led him to imagine all sorts of false doctrines. John Paul was a deeply mistaken Pontiff.

Geremia said...

Also, regarding translations, Studiorum ducem doesn't say "philosophiam" but "doctrinam", i.e., St. Thomas's doctrine or teaching, not philosophy.

Don Paco said...

Good point about the translation, Geremia. "Doctrina" is evidently broader than "philosophy," and would include his theology too.

(I'm no superb translator myself, but what's up with these people that translate ecclesiastical documents--e.g., Vatican II or the new Mass. Even an amateur like myself knows that "doctrina" means "doctrine" not "philosophy.")

Don Paco said...

Here's Studiorum Ducem in Latin:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19230629_studiorum-ducem_lt.html

Don Paco said...

Notice, too, that the Church does not only favor Thomism, but Scholastic philosophy, something that cannot be said of some (i.e., most) modern versions of 'Thomism', for example, Historical "Thomism" and Analytic "Thomism":

"Therefore, venerable brethren, as often as We contemplate the good, the force, and the singular advantages to be derived from his philosophic discipline which Our Fathers so dearly loved. We think it hazardous that its special honor should not always and everywhere remain, especially when it is established that daily experience, and the judgment of the greatest men, and, to crown all, the voice of the Church, have favored Scholastic philosophy." (Pope Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris, par. 24.)

Anonymous said...

“His life was holy and his teaching could not but be miraculous…,for he illuminated the Church more than all other Doctors. A man who spends one year with his books gets farther than if he were to spend his whole life studying the teachings of others.”

John XXII, Acta sanctorum, vol.1 martii, 681-682.

“Furthermore, we command you to follow the doctrine of the said Blessed Thomas, which is true and Catholic; strive with all your powers to master it and make it known.”

B. Urban V, Bull Laudabilis Deus

“That from henceforth no master or reader of this same College of St. Denys shall read, teach and explain anything to the students in schools and faculties of the said College, particularly in theological matters, other than as taught by St. Thomas Aquinas.”

Pope Benedict XIV, Bull of Approbation of the College of St-Denys

“Particularly in philosophical and theological matters, as we have already said, no one turns aside from Aquinas without great detriment. Following him is the safest path to profound knowledge of divine things....His golden teaching illuminates the mind with its splendor. His life and intellect lead us to the profoundest knowledge of divine things without any danger of error.”

Pope St. Pius X, Motu proprio Praeclara

“It is evident that those who depart from Thomas, if they pursue their path to the end, part company with the Church.”

Pope St. Pius X, Letter to Rev. Fr. Pègues

“After this slight sketch of the great virtues of Thomas, it is easy to understand the preeminence of his doctrine and the marvelous authority it enjoys in the Church. Our Predecessors, indeed, have always unanimously extolled it… He enjoyed a more than human reputation for intellect and learning and Pius V was therefore moved to enroll him officially among the holy Doctors with the title of Angelic. Again, could there be any more manifest indication of the very high esteem in which this Doctor is held by the Church than the fact that the Fathers of Trent resolved that two volumes only, Holy Scripture and the Summa Theologica, should be reverently laid open on the altar during their deliberations? And in this order of ideas, to avoid recapitulating the innumerable testimonies of the Apostolic See, We are happy to recall that the philosophy of Aquinas was revived by the authority and at the instance of Leo XIII; the merit of Our illustrious Predecessor in so doing is such, as We have said elsewhere, that if he had not been the author of many acts and decrees of surpassing wisdom, this alone would be sufficient to establish his undying glory. Pope Pius X of saintly memory followed shortly afterwards in his footsteps, more particularly in his Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici, in which this memorable phrase occurs: "For ever since the happy death of the Doctor, the Church has not held a single Council but he has been present at it with all the wealth of his doctrine." Closer to Us, Our greatly regretted Predecessor Benedict XV repeatedly declared that he was entirely of the same opinion and he is to be praised for having promulgated the Code of Canon Law in which "the system, philosophy and principles of the Angelic Doctor" are unreservedly sanctioned.”

Pope Pius XI, Studiorum Ducem

Geremia said...

Thanks for the excellent quotes, Anonymous. The popes have given myriads of testimonies on St. Thomas's philosophy, but the 1917 Code of Canon Law 1366 §2, quoted in Studiorum ducem is probably the best:

Philosophiae rationalis ac theologiae studia et alumnorum in his disciplinis institutionem professores omnino pertractent ad Angelici Doctoris rationem, doctrinam et principia, eaque sancte teneant.

(teachers shall deal with the studies of mental philosophy and theology and the education of their pupils in such sciences according to the method, doctrine and principles of the Angelic Doctor and religiously adhere thereto)

To repeat: "according to the method, doctrine and principles (rationem, doctrinam et principia) of the Angelic Doctor" Since anything to the contrary of this was never mentioned in the 1983 Code of Canon law, it was never abrogated (Can. 20).

Now, regarding FR §49 quoted in the OP, it appears JPII is concerned about fideism to the detriment of philosophy. The English translation also is not that great because philosophy engaged with theology cannot strictly "remain faithful to its own principles" (the Latin says "rationem" or "methods") because the principles of theology are the articles of faith (S.T. Iª q. 1 a. 7), something which cannot completely be obtained by natural reason (S.T. Iª q. 1 a. 1). St. Thomas never conflates his theology with his philosophy: "theology included in sacred doctrine [the Latin actually says 'theology which pertains to sacred doctrine'] differs in kind from that theology which is part of philosophy." (S.T. Iª q. 1 a. 1 ad 2)

(P.S.: All hail Veterum Sapientia! Many issues would be cleared up...)

Anonymous said...

So Professor, in light of all of the evidence, what is your judgment in this matter? I'm also interested to hear your analysis of the surrounding context, which seems to be fallacious as well.

Don Paco said...

I think the second part of John Paul II's statement, taken in the extreme sense, is true and easy to reconcile with Pre-Vatican II teaching: the Church does not "canonize" a philosophy (in the sense of making it a dogma or somehow canonical). But the first part is not so easy to reconcile, unless by it he just means exactly the same thing as he says in the second part; in other words, if the second part is simply an explanation of the first...

But I'm still thinking about it. That's why I asked for your help!

Anonymous said...

John Paul never spoke dogmatically. To think that he meant that the Church hasn't defined a philosophy de fide is absurd. Of course the Church hasn't done so because it cannot by definition define something of reason as a truth of faith. That is manifestly not the meaning or sense he was implying. To say then that we can agree with such absurd statement is also equally absurd. I do not use the term in an ad hominem sense, rather in a strict philosophical sense.

The use of the term "canonize" especially since he uses quotes was clearly analogous. His meaning was that the Church doesn't prefer or have a particular, codified philosophy, thus he thinks that there is no philosophy of the Church. This is evidently false as per the quotes given. Thomistic philosophy has indeed been "canonized" if only because of the fact that CANON law (a rule of action or canon) has directed it to be the philosophy of the Church, not to mention the unanimous teaching of the Popes stating that this particular philosophy is to be adopted for magisterial use in order to better express theological doctrine.

There is simply no other philosophy that meets this criteria.

John Paul wanted to free up this "restriction" in order to re-interpret revelation through his own peculiar philosophical paradigm.

Soft Modernists like JPII have a disdain for Scholastic philosophy, for how could they tolerate such pristine concept standing in the way of their obfuscations?

He thought he could do it better. Pride is at the root of all of this novelty.

Alan Aversa said...
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Alan Aversa said...

Fides et Ratio §95 says: "[D]ogmatic statements, while reflecting at times the culture of the period in which they were defined, formulate an unchanging and ultimate truth[,] [...] a truth transcending [...] [historical and cultural] circumstances."

This is certainly not Modernist. Humani Generis §15 says the Modernists "hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts [notionibus] but only by approximate and ever changeable notions [notionibus]..."

Fides et Ratio §96 fn. 112 contains a direct quote from Humani Generis §30 that you quote above. Fides et Ratio §96 says: "Pius XII addressed in his Encyclical Letter Humani Generis" "the problem of the enduring validity of the conceptual language used in Conciliar definitions." "This is a complex theme to ponder, since one must reckon seriously with the meaning which words assume in different times and cultures. [This is historicism, which he condemned in §87. To avoid this he suggests, in §97, a return to "a philosophy of being {Thomism?} which first of all would enable dogmatic theology to perform its functions appropriately."] [...] We may hope, then, that philosophy will be especially concerned to deepen the understanding of the relationship between conceptual language [sermonem intellectivum] and truth, and to propose ways which will lead to a right understanding of that relationship [viz., the relationship between other philosophies and Thomism, the latter being closest to truth?]."

So, as I'm beginning to understand it, John Paul II is basically advocating Thomism ["Christian philosophy" (§76) or "philosophy of being"] for "dogmatic theology to perform its functions appropriately" (§97), but the Church does not necessarily endorse a philosophy for functions beyond "when it engages theology" (§49).


@Nick: "The main danger I see one could read from the first quote of JPII [§54] is that Philosophy can be and is divorced from Revelation/Theology. That's textbook Modernism…"

There certainly are philosophies that "can be and" are "divorced from Revelation/Theology." If a philosophy does not "remain faithful to its own principles and methods" (§54), it is not a scientia; it is belief, even if Revelation corroborates its conclusions.

Also, "textbook Modernism" would subject faith to reason or philosophy, while at the same time declaring their independence. The Modernists hold "that the object of [...] [faith] is quite extraneous to and separate from the object of [...] [science]. For faith [according to Modernists] occupies itself solely with something which science declares to be unknowable for it. [...] [They think] science is to be entirely independent of faith, while on the other hand, and notwithstanding that they are supposed to be strangers to each other, faith is made subject to science." (Pascendi §16-§17). What John Paul II writes in Fides et Ratio is that truth is the nexus between faith and science.


Another topic related to this post is Gaudium et Spes §36, which basically says that science can proceed independently of recognizing God, yet when God is forgotten, the creatures science studies become unintelligible.