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THE AUTHORITY OF ST. THOMAS IN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS AND THE SACRED SCIENCES AN OPINION REGARDING TWO RECENT ARTICLES* The encyclical Humant Generis of Pope Pius XII (August 12, 1950)1 has occasioned among other things two long studies on the authority of St. Thomas in philosophy and theology by two Spanish theologians, Santiago Ramirez, O. P.,* and Armando Bandera, O. P.* These we shall consider in the following pages. Before subjecting these works to critical examination, however, we would do well to point out some fundamental notions regarding the declarations of the Holy See. I. In his encyclical the Holy Father warmly recommends as a safeguard against ancient and modern errors that 'sound philosophy' which constitutes a patrimony handed on from earlier Christian ages, and which possesses an added authority of even higher order, since the Magisterium of the Church has weighed in the balance of divine revelation its principles and major assertions slowly elaborated and defined by men of great genius. This philosophy, acknowledged and accepted by the Church, safeguards the genuine validity of human knowledge, the unshaken metaphysical principles of sufficient reason, causality and finality, in a word, the possibility of attaining certain and unchangeable truth.* "There are many things in this philosophy which do not * This article was originally published in Spanish, "La autoridad de Santo Thomas en las escuelas y ciencias eclesiásticas", in Estudios Eclesiásticos , XXVII (1953), 143—166. The present version is based on the original German of Fr. Pelster, though compared likewise (through the kind help of Fr. Roderick Wheeler, O. F. M.) with the Spanish. 1 Acta Apostolícete Sedis (AAS), XLII (1950), 561—578; the English version used herein is that of Fr. A. C. Cotter, S. J., The Encyclical "Humani Generis" with a Commentary (Weston, 1951). * "The Authority of Saint Thomas Aquinas", The Thomist, XV (1952), ?—109. This was re-published with a few additions in book form under the title De auctoritate doctrinali S. Thomae Aguinatis (Salamanca, 1952), with the pontifical documents from Benedict XIV to Pius XII in an appendix.» "Pio XII y Santo Tomás", Ciencia Tom. LXXVIII (1951), 483—543. 4 AAS, loc. cit., 571—72: Hoc tamen munus [sc. comprobandi Christianae fidei fundamenta, ad legem naturae rite exprimendam, et ad aliquam my- 2 FRANZ PELSTER touch faith and morals either directly or indirectly, and which the Church leaves therefore to the free discussion of scholars. But this does not apply to many other things, especially to the principles and major assertions just referred to."5 "For truth and its philosophical expression cannot change from day to day, least of all where there is question of the self-evident principles of the human mind or of those assertions which are supported by the wisdom of the ages and agree with divine revelation ... It is permissible, however, to clothe sometimes our philosophy in fitter and richer dress, to reenforce it with more effective arguments, to divest it of certain scholastic aids found less useful, and to embody in it cautiously the sound fruits of human progress. But never may we subvert it, or contaminate it with false principles, or esteem it merely as a grand but obsolete relic."* In particular, the Pope renews the prescription of Canon Law: Philosophiae rationalis ac theologiae studia et alumnorum in his disciplinis institutionem professores omnino perlractent ad Angelici Doctoris rationem, doctrinam et principia, eaque sánete teneant.7 For the method of Aquinas is of special merit "for teaching students and for bringing hidden truth to light" while his doctrine is "in perfect harmony with divine revelation, and is most effective for safeguarding the foundations of the faith as well as for reaping, safely and usefully, the fruits of sound progress."8 Finally, the Holy Father rejects emphatically the objections of relasteriorum intelligentiam assequendam] ratio tum solum apte ac tuto absolvere poterit, cum debito modo exculta fuerit; nempe cum fuerit sana illa philosophia imbuta, quae velut Patrimonium iamdudum exstat a superioribus christianis aetatibus traditum, atque adeo altioris etiam ordinis auctoritatem habet, quia ipsum Magisterium Ecclesiae, eius principia ac praecipua asserta, a viris magni ingenii paulatim patefacta ac definita ad ipsius divinae revelationis trutinam vocavit. Quae quidem philosophia in Ecclesia agnita...


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