A Report on the Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas 2009

With thanks to Jörgen Vijgen, who was in attendance, a report on the 2009 meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas:

Report on the IX Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, 19-21 June 2009

At their seat in the 16th century villa Casina Pio IV in Vatican City the Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas held their annual Plenary Session on June 19-21, 2009. Since its reform by the motu proprio Inter Munera Academiarum, issued by Pope John Paul II, the Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, founded by Pope Leo XIII on October 15, 1879, organizes each year its plenary session on a single topic. In previous years topics such as ‘Truth’, ‘Goodness’, and ‘Natural Law’ were treated. To mark the end of the Pauline Year, this year’s topic was fittingly entitled “Saint-Thomas’s Interpretation of Saint-Paul’s Doctrines”.

The newly appointed president Lluis Clavell of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross had organized an intensive program to which some 30 members took part among which were Stephen Brock, Romanus Cessario O.P., Joseph Di Noia O.P., Kevin Flannery S.J., the papal theologian Wojciech Giertych O.P., Russell Hittinger, Charles Morerod O.P., Robert Wielockx, Horst Seidl, Card. Georges Cottier O.P., Leo Elders S.V.D. and Enrique Alarcon.

Continuing with the tradition of previous years, the Academy had also invited experts from outside the Academy to speak on the topic at hand. This year’s speakers were Michael Waldstein (Ave Maria University) and Reinhard Hütter (Duke University).

The program was as follows:


  1. Reinhard Hütter: “In hope he believed against hope” (Romans 4:18). Faith and Hope, two Pauline motifs as interpreted by Aquinas: an approach to the encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI, “Spe Salvi”
  2. Joseph Di Noia O.P.: Christ brings freedom from sin and death: Thomas’s Understanding of Romans 5, 12-21, on Original Sin


  1. Mons. Inos Biffi, La figura di Cristo nel commento di Tommaso alla Lettera agli Ebrei
  2. Pedro Rodriguez, El ‘sacrum ministerium’ en los comentários de Santo Tomás al ‘Corpus Paulinum’
  3. Mons. Fernando Ocariz, ‘L’adozione filiale e il mistero di Cristo nel Commento di San Tommaso alla Lettera ai Romani
  4. Leo Elders S.V.D., Thomas’s comments on the Letters of St. Paul to the Philippians and the Colossians
  5. Robert Wielockx, Au sujet du commentaire de S. Thomas sur le ‘Corpus Paulinum’ : critique littéraire et aperçus exégétiques


  1. Michael Waldstein, The Spousal Logic of Justification : St. Thomas and Luther on Paul’s Key Topic Statement Romans, 1:17
  2. Ricardo Ferrara, La dottrina della grazia nel Commento alla Lettera ai Romani
  3. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Grace as “new creation”

Needless to say that with these 45 min.-lectures and 30 min.-discussions, which seldom sufficed to treat all the questions, it was an in-depth three days- study of St. Thomas and St. Paul. (The Roman sun, the Vatican Gardens, Saint-Peter’s Basilica, Santa Sabina, the diners and the private trips to the abbeys of Monte Cassino and Fossanova and the village of Aquino however brought it all back in balance.)

Readers who were present at the conference on Aquinas’s Commentary on Romans in February of this year at Ave Maria University (Naples, Florida) might be interested to hear that ecumenical explorations came up more than once during the discussions. We’re looking forward to the final versions of all these papers to be published in the next issue of Doctor Communis.

(NOTE: Jörgen took pictures of the trips south, which I’ll post very soon).