Thomistica Readers attending CTSA: Talks of Interest

Readers of this page may not naturally think of the CTSA as the prime venue for hearing papers pertaining to their thomistic interest. Thanks to the efforts of many, however (you may note their names as Administrative Team members) , those attending the sessions in San Juan later this week will indeed find many papers of interest in the concurrent sessions.

Here is a sampling:

The 71st Annual Convention of The Catholic Theological Society of America

  •  Friday Morning, June 10, 2016, Concurrent Sessions 11:00 – 12:45 p.m.

3. Justice and Mercy on the Cross:

San Cristóbal CD

Revisiting Anselm’s theory of Atonement – Selected Session

Convener: Robert J. Barry, Providence College

Moderator: Bruce D. Marshall, Southern Methodist University

Presenter: David L. Whidden III, Our Lady of the Lake College

Paper Title: “Justice and Mercy in God, On the Cross, and In the Classroom: Anselm of Canterbury’s Changing Thought”

Précis: In the Cur Deus Homo, Anselm revisits his discussion of the relationship between between God’s justice and mercy from the Proslogion, where he solved the problem by means of the metaphysics of relations. In the CDH Anselm resolves the same problem Christologically, uniting justice and mercy in the person of Jesus, who makes satisfaction for all humans. We can follow Anselm’s approach with regard to plagiarism cases in way that allows both justice and mercy to be made evident to our students.

Presenter: Brandon R. Peterson, University of Utah

Paper Title: “Would a Forgiving God Need Placation? An Examination of Mercy and Atonement”

Précis: Anselm’s God, whose honor requires satisfaction if sinners aren’t to be eternally damned, has been criticized as unmerciful. Did the father of the prodigal son, critics ask, demand any such payment? Although popular presentations of Anselm’s theory are guilty of this charge, Anselm’s theory of satisfaction itself does not propose the cross as a kind of divine mollification, but rather styles God as mercifully excluding punishment through a gracious transformation of the created order, an order in which his just God constantly delights. The question remains, however, of whether this theory best communicates God’s mercy in today’s contexts.

Presenter: Amanda Alexander, Fordham University

Paper Title: “Bread of Mercy, Stone of Justice: A Eucharistic Reading of Anselm’s Atonement Theory”

Précis: The paper will first establish that, according to Cur Deus-Homo, the work of atonement is two-fold. First, God’s honor must be satisfied. This part of the atonement theory is developed explicitly in CDH with regards to God’s iustitia. The second work of atonement, however, is that the iustitia lost through sin must be restored to redeemed sinners if they are to enjoy beatitude. This paper will argue that, according to the theology implicit in Anselm’s prayers and meditations, this latter work is accomplished through the reception of the eucharist, whereby Christ’s iustitia is restored to the soul of the sinner.

  • Friday Afternoon, June 10, 2016, Concurrent Sessions 2:30 – 4:15 p.m.

1. Historical Theology I – Topic Session

San Cristóbal A

Administrative Team: Daria Spezzano, Rita George-Tvrtković, Scott Moringiello

Convener: Scott Moringiello, DePaul University

Moderator: Shawn Colberg, College of Saint Benedict | Saint John’s University

Presenter: Anna Harrison, Loyola Marymount University

Paper Title: “Justice and Mercy in the Purgatorial Piety of the Nuns of Helfta”

Précis: The theological basis for the Helfta nuns’ relationship with purgatory’s inhabitants is their indebtedness to God. This indebtedness has two basic sources, a modified Anselmian atonement theory and a complementary bridal mysticism. They concentrate on their cooperative role with Christ in paying the debt acquired by other human beings – and on their own indebtedness to Christ, which instigates their assumption of the role of co-redeemer with him. They express their consciousness of the need to fulfill their spousal duties to Christ as a desire to gratify God that incorporated God’s own desire to satisfy those whom he loved – including souls in purgatory.

Presenter: Francis Caponi, Villanova University

Paper Title: “‘I will give you what is just’ (Matt 20:4): Thomas Aquinas and the Question of Merited Mercy”

Précis: This paper will argue that Thomas Aquinas presents justice as both the result of, and the indispensable preparation for, the gift of mercy; and the theological pivot of their confluence is the idea of merit. In order to reach this conclusion, I will (1) analyze the patterns of analogical attribution and negation which characterize the predication of divine justice and mercy, (2) discuss the “analogy of justice” in Aquinas’ writings, and (3) consider the processus justificationis and the role of the divinizing grace of the sacraments in achieving that incorporation into Christ which is the reconciliation of sinners.

Presenter: Agnes de Dreuzy, St. Mark’s College, University of British Columbia

Paper Title: “Justice and Mercy in jus post bellum: Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922)’s Overlooked Contribution”

Précis: Benedict XV (1914-1922) is arguably the first pope to offer a new perspective in the debate about justice and mercy in postwar time. He challenged the just war theory as a guarantee for just peace and pleaded for the pardoning of injuries and the practical love of enemies as an act of mercy eventually leading to justice and peace. The pontiff did not intend to create a new theology on justice and mercy. Nevertheless, his understanding of their relationship profoundly transformed papal policy and was adopted especially by John Paul II and the current pope Francis, who both advocate mercy as legitimate political practices.


5. Thomas Aquinas – Consultation

San Cristóbal F

Mercy in the Thomist Tradition

Administrative Team: Gregory LaNave, Anna Bonta Moreland, David Whidden

Convener: Gregory LaNave, Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception

Moderator: David Whidden, Our Lady of the Lake College

Presenter: Romanus Cessario, O.P., St. John’s Seminary

Paper Title: “Mercy in Aquinas: Help from the Commentatorial Tradition”

Précis: In Summa theologiae, Ia, q. 21, Aquinas treats justice and mercy in God. God’s omnipotence manifests itself in a unique way when he pardons and shows mercy to his creatures. In fact, when we receive mercy for our transgressions, God reveals himself as the Highest Truth. He alone can forgive the creature’s rebellion against the supreme norm for human life. What is better, God not only pardons, he also perfects. An examination of several authors from the Thomist commentatorial tradition will center on Aquinas’s appeal to truth in this question and in IIa-IIae, q. 109 on the truth of life. 17

Respondents: Mark Johnson, Marquette University and Michael Dauphinais, Ave Maria University


 9. Creation and Eschatology – Topic Session

Tropical C

Justice and Mercy for all of Creation: Laudato Sis Contributions to the Doctrines of Creation and Eschatology

Administrative Team:  Mary Doak, Steven Rodenborn, Christopher Cimorelli

Convener: Mary Doak, University of San Diego

Moderator: Steven Rodenborn, St. Edward’s University

Presenter: Gregorio Montejo, Boston College

Paper Title: “Creation, Eschatology, Justice, Mercy: Thomas Aquinas in Laudato Si’”

Précis: Thomas Aquinas plays a central role in Laudato Si’, which contains three key Thomistic concepts: The universe as a whole evinces God’s inexhaustible riches, for natural plurality mirrors divine plenitude. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us, since creation is moving towards a common eschatological goal. God’s intimate presence in the world is a continuation of the work of creation. These insights culminate in justice, since justice directs our rightful relations to other creatures, and mercy, because the very act of creation discloses that the world is the result of God’s merciful love.

  • Saturday Morning, June 11, 2016, Concurrent Sessions 11:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

11. Theological Diversity – Invited Session

San Gerónimo C

Theological Perspectives on Revelation

Administrative Team:

Daniel Finn, Richard R. Gaillardetz, James F. Keating, Christopher Ruddy

Convener: Christopher Ruddy, Catholic University of America

Moderator: Kristin Colberg, College of Saint Benedict | Saint John’s University

Presenter: James Keating, Providence College

Title: “What Difference Does It Make that God Has Spoken?”

Précis: Theological disagreements between conservative and liberal theologians are often disagreements over how what God has revealed ought to function in theology. Conservative theology is marked by a concern, even anxiety, that God’s revealed Word enjoys priority over all human ideas and desires. They insist priority requires a degree of objectivity for revelation, both with respect to how it is distinguished from what is not revealed and in the content God has revealed. In modern Catholic theology prior to Vatican II, the objective character was most often expressed in a propositional understanding of divine revelation and Church teaching. Since the Council, the propositional approach has been subjected to continual attack both from conservative and liberal theologians alike, However, the difference is that conservatives remain convinced that apart from an objective character, God’s revelation cannot make the difference for theological reflection that it must.

Presenter: John Thiel, Fairfield University

Title: “The Literal Sense of Tradition: Does It Stretch or Will It Break?”

Précis: This paper approaches a theology of revelation by considering issues about which Catholic theologians of traditionalist and progressivist sensibilities are inclined to disagree. These neuralgic issues do not involve disagreements about how God reveals in scripture or even about the content of scripture. Rather Catholic theological disagreements concern how divine revelation is communicated and received in tradition. This paper delineates a theology of tradition that intends to bridge this divide, and offers an account of different traditionalist and progressivist judgments about the beauty of tradition that need to be mutually appreciated in the Church.

  •  Saturday Afternoon, June 11, 2016, Concurrent Session 2:30 – 4:15 p.m.

2. Historical Theology II – Topic Session

San Cristóbal B

Administrative Team: Daria Spezzano, Rita George-Tvrtković, Scott Moringiello

Convener: Daria Spezzano, Providence College

Moderator: Jim Lee, Southern Methodist University

Presenter: Khaled Anatolios, University of Notre Dame

Paper Title: “Justice and Mercy in Athanasius’s Soteriology”

Précis: The correlation of justice and mercy has traditionally been one of the key components of the exposition of soteriological doctrine. Modern theology, however, has often denigrated "judicial" accounts of Christ's salvific work, and identified such accounts with the medieval Western tradition, which is typically contrasted with the Greek Patristic conception of salvation as deification. In refutation of this narrative, this paper will analyze the correlation of divine justice and mercy in the soteriological doctrine of one of the great Greek theologians of deification, Athanasius of Alexandria.

Presenter: Bruce D. Marshall, Southern Methodist University

Paper Title: “Tolle me et redime te: Anselm and Aquinas on the Justice and Mercy of God”

Précis: In his Proslogion Anselm looks for a way of understanding the harmony of God’s mercy and justice, but evidently finds it only much later, at the end of the Cur Deus homo. His argument there suggests that only the cross harmonizes God’s mercy and justice, and thus that the cross is necessary for God. Yet Anselm is not willing to grant that the cross is necessary; still less, later on, is Thomas Aquinas. How then can we understand mercy and justice to coincide on the cross, yet not see the cross as necessary for the coincidence of mercy and justice?