On the non-reception of Aeterni Patris

Paul VI's encyclical Humanae vitae is often called a "dead letter," and, unfortunately, for good reason. The same could be said of Leo XIII's Aeterni Patris. In a lecture on the Thomistic revival to students and professors of Mount Saint Bernard Seminary and the Aquinas Institute in Dubuque, Iowa in 1962, James Weisheipl had this to say:

[H]istorically speaking, the program of Pope Leo XIII has never been universally implemented in Catholic colleges, universities and seminaries. Not even the ardent efforts of St. Pius X were able to effect this. Until this program is really attempted in a thorough manner, there will always be zealous priests who react to what they only half understand. Reactions against Thomism in the past half century have always been to a pseudo-Thomism, a half-understood St. Thomas.

For Fr. Weisheipl, this was particularly disturbing, since, as he adds:

[A]ccording to the mind of the Church, only the sound philosophical and theological principles of St. Thomas are capable of creating a modern Catholic Weltanschauung which will move forward with the modern world and save it for Christ. Ite ad Thomam is not the cry of an antiquarian pope. It is the cry of a prophet who sees what can be the millenium of Christianity in the modern world. Therefore a great responsibility is ours. It is up to us Thomists and Catholics throughout the entire world to show that we can incorporate everything that is good and modern in our age -- and take the great step forward to tomorrow.

And where do things stand today with the reception of Aeterni Patris? Need we ask?

History of Lay Undergraduate Theology

Does anybody know of good sources for the history of the study of Catholic theology by lay people before the twentieth-century?  I am thinking of Continental Universities before and after the Revolution, and especially English laymen who studied in Europe.  Moreover, I would be interested to know about the curricula of American Universities in the late nineteenth century.  My impression is that it was more or less clerical at first, but I could be wrong.

Catena aurea electronica

It is well known that Thomas devoted considerable time and effort to deepen his knowledge of patristic sources, as can be exemplified by his composition in the early 1260’s of what is known as the Catena aurea on the Gospels.

Recent studies have established that Thomas’ Catena aurea is not merely a compilation of patristic texts but an extensive reworking and reordering of existing sources as well as sources for which he actively searched and of which he had Latin translations made.

Given that the standard Marietti edition contains many textual deficiencies and lacks an identification of the sources, for some years now, an edition is underway which aims to remedy these deficiencies.

Under the direction of Martin Morard and Carmelo Conticello of the CNRS in Paris, an electronic edition of the Catena aurea is being prepared (or as the full title has it: Thomae de Aquino Catena aurea. Editio scientifica electronica, fontibus repertis textuque emendato,  éd. Giuseppe Conticello,  Martin Morard, coll. Fabio Gibiino et alii).

The project has a most informative website with information on the ratio of the electronic edition, secondary literature, a survey of printed editions, concrete examples of how Thomas went about in composing the Catena, etc.

But most importantly, perhaps, for each Gospel there is a PDF-file of the text with the most up to date version of the text and the identification of the sources so far.

Here is the website: https://big.hypotheses.org/catena-aurea.



Jörgen Vijgen

DR. JÖRGEN VIJGEN holds academic appointments in Medieval and Thomistic Philosophy at several institutions in the Netherlands. His dissertation, “The status of Eucharistic accidents ‘sine subiecto’: An Historical Trajectory up to Thomas Aquinas and selected reactions,” was written under the direction of Fr. Walter Senner, O.P. at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, Italy and published in 2013 by Akademie Verlag (now De Gruyter) in Berlin, Germany.

Thomism and the death penalty

Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette's new book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of the Death Penalty and the Pope's recent remarks on the death penalty have revived the Catholic debate on the topic.

The death penalty has been discussed in several posts here at Thomistica over the years: here, here, here, here, and here. Most of these posts were authored by Steve Long.

On Friday Catholic World Report published an essay of mine entitled "Is opposition to the death penalty Thomistic?" In it I compare Pope Francis's remarks with St. Thomas's teaching. I think the Holy Father's defense of Amoris laetitia as Thomistic encourages this sort of exercise. I also assume that my discussion may be of interest to some of our readers.

A Franciscan and Pope Francis

Last week Thomas Weinandy, OFM, Cap., made public a letter that he had written Pope Francis at the end of July. In the letter Weinandy expresses his concerns over various aspects of Francis’s pontificate. Here’s how Weinandy sums up his concerns toward the beginning of the letter:

Your Holiness, a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate.  The light of faith, hope, and love is not absent, but too often it is obscured by the ambiguity of your words and actions.  This fosters within the faithful a growing unease.  It compromises their capacity for love, joy and peace.

Weinandy then goes on to offer some examples of the words and actions of Francis that have troubled him. You can find the complete letter here together with Weinandy’s explanation of his motivations.

Weinandy has written a number of books on theological topics. Does God Suffer? and Does God Change? The Word's Becoming in the Incarnation, both published in 2000, are perhaps his best known. He has taught at a number of Catholic academic institutions in the US and from 1991 to 2005 taught at the University of Oxford. From 2005 to 2013 he was the Executive Director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices of the USCCB. In 2013 Pope Francis awarded him the Pro Pontifice et Ecclesiae medal. Weinandy is also a member of the International Theological Commission.

After he made his letter to the Pope public, the USCCB asked Weinandy to resign from his position as a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine. (The USCCB statements on the matter are here and here.) I think that this was an unfortunate move. Weinandy is obviously an accomplished theologian and a true vir ecclesiasticus. I hope that the bishops will reconsider.

Is the Correctio Correct?: NEW

Change: I was looking at a summary and not at the seven articles that they mention are heretical.  I posted too quickly.  The seven articles are on pp. 8-9.  The references to Church documents of varying weight are on pp. 17ff. Note that footnote 8 is divided into several parts.  It seems to me hard to fault the document after my more careful reading, but am still unsure.  Has anyone seen any doctrinal criticisms of this document that seem reasonable?   The seven articles seem obviously heretical or very close to heresy.  I suppose you might criticize it for uncharitably saying that the Pope is propagating them.  I don't know.