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?