C.J. Pinto de Oliveira, "Thomas Aquinas, Vatican II, and Contemporary Theology," Nova et Vetera [http://www.novaetvetera.it> 56 (1981), 161ff.  Distributed to the four Dominican provinces in the United States (Translation by Thomas O'Meara, O.P., University of Notre Dame).


Thomas Aquinas, Vatican II and Contemporary Theology

C. J. Pinto de Oliveira, O.P.


At critical periods in its history, the church becomes aware in new ways of the presence of the great witnesses within its tradition. The Spirit renews the church by a fresh understanding of the Gospel, and in the light of this eschatological gift the future opens up as call and promise. The past, the teachings of the Fathers and Doctors, unfold new meanings and messages as they respond to the new challenges and problems of the present. Vatican II was precisely such an unfolding: the Council wanted to incorporate a stance regarding St. Thomas into its basic design and into its most fruitful and dynamic objective, the re-reading of Scripture and Tradition. It deliberately refused to ratify any expression which would give even the appearance of setting the universal Doctor apart in splendid isolation or of canonizing his doctrine as a closed system.


To be sure, Vatican II and the post-conciliar Church were sensitive to the climate of suspicion which today is inclined to discredit all systems of thought. Thus a page in the history of Thomism seems to have been turned, that of philosophical and theological systematizations. The "return to St. Thomas" undertaken in the pontificate of Pius IX inaugurated that development which the encyclical Aeterni Patris of Leo XIII was to honor in 1879. On the other hand, inspired by the Council, a new form of relevancy seemed to open up for the theology of St. Thomas. It appeared as a challenge, as a promise of unprecedented hope in the framework of conversing with contemporary thought in the perspective of an ecumenical and structural dialog. The following article will pursue this itinerary:


            1. The vicissitudes of Thomism and the presence of Thomas Aquinas in the chief directions of the Second Vatican Council;


            2. Questions and issues coming from major currents of contemporary theology;


            3. A look at recent theological projects, principally existential, historical and liberation theologies.


A. Thomas Aquinas, Conciliar Questions and Directions


Two questions, separate but equally important, should be raised first. What use did the Council make of Aquinas' teaching? What position did it take regarding the place Thomas Aquinas was to occupy henceforth in ecclesiastical teaching?


1. Thomism at the Council.


A comparison with the two previous Councils, Trent and Vatican I, is significant. While announcing their intention to remain above the quarrels and details of the theological schools, the Fathers of the Council of Trent borrowed from the theological Summa of Thomas the essential and fundamental ideas of their entire dogmatic development. The doctrine of sanctifying grace underlying the decree on Justification is a resume of Thomistic teaching brought up to date. This, in turn, becomes the main text of the decree where the Council's sacramental and ecclesiological positions are collected.(1) More cautiously but not less effectively, Thomas Aquinas supplied Vatican I with ideas on faith, revelation and on the relationships of both to human reason; and with the theological foundations of the dogmatic constitution Dei Filius which was intended to offer the starting point and the basis for the whole conciliar work but was never finished.(2)


The Second Vatican Council seems notable at first for a sharp break with this theological continuity. Of course the preparatory projects (schemata) distributed to the bishops at the beginning of the Council follow, for the most part, the theological direction which had inspired Vatican I. By their contents, references and style those documents reflect certain characteristics of academic Thomism and pay no attention to problems of contemporary culture and church. The real start of the Council, its decisive position taken in 1962, coincided with the rejection, at least tacit, of those projects prepared at some length (and cost), as well as with the setting aside of the scholastic theology which they contained and whose lack of credibility they thus furthered.(3) To express new orientations now needed by the Church, Vatican II could not find an established theology which was then enjoying public respect and which might be incorporated into the conciliar texts.


The constitutions, declarations, and decrees emanating from the Council are the work of compromise and are considered to be pastoral. The coherence of a technical language or a systematic homogeneity are not central in them. The key ideas of revelation, Church, priesthood, mission, union of Christians, presence of the Spirit in the Church and in history, the very idea of liberty are employed in an empirical, descriptive way. Most often they develop theological intuitions coming out of several currents of renewal. Thomas Aquinas is present throughout without being named inasmuch as his doctrine remains the point of reference if not the first source of inspiration for great theologians such as Chenu, Congar, Schillebeeckx or Rahner. The study of the interventions of the conciliar Fathers permits us to evaluate the strength of a theology whose fidelity to Aquinas is on a par with its opening to contemporary social and individual problematics. We can mention here the example of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla's insistence on the pivotal ideas of liberty, creation and salvation, their relationship to each other, and the importance of the redemption to clarify both Christian existence and the sense of history. Today, as head of the Church, John Paul II resumes, prolongs and extends to the entire world the broad orientations which he helped to integrate chiefly in the constitution Gaudium et Spes and the declaration Dignitas Humanae Personae. (4) To be sure, the Council rejected a Thomism fixed in abstract formulas and so went beyond fossilized theological systems. On the other hand, it showed impressively an intense and creative fidelity to the doctrine and spirit of Aquinas. There is nothing surprising in that. Vatican II was the outcome of a vast process of ecclesial growth where the presence of theology became more inventive as it associated a predilection for Aquinas with bold innovations. When the modernist crisis was at its height producing troubling relations between Church, Scripture and Tradition, J. M. Lagrange drew from Aquinas a realistic, clear and operational understanding of history and human freedom under divine action; he succeeded in legitimizing the use of the historical method and of critical procedures in the service of a tradition of true exegesis. The way was thus opened to the contemporary biblical renewal which the encyclical Divino Afflante of Pius XII in 1943 canonized at the proper moment and which the dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum would take up again more extensively in 1965. Was it not in an inventive and dynamic fidelity to Aquinas that L. J. Lebret found the sources of human economics and the inspiration for an integral development of persons and peoples which the constitution Guadium et Spes and the encyclical Populorum Progressio proclaim to be the most urgent requirement for the future if not for the very survival of humanity?


Vatican II showed the same attitude of openness and selective discernment toward Thomas that it adopted vis-a-vis other different forms of living tradition in the Church. Such discernment prompted it to abandon all special systems, systems sometimes so crystallized that tradition and system took on a polemical and defensive bias. Vatican II thereby linked the Church of the present day and its future to biblical, patristic, liturgical and theological sources. By forgoing the earlier, well-worn paths of the Counter-Reformation, it expressed confidence in the spontaneous spirit of original principles and charisms discoverable in the great doctors.


The synthesis of Aquinas, courageously and lucidly stripped of all academic rigidity, profits by being read and expanded in the light of post-conciliar renewal and in the perspectives opened by today's Church.


2. The Doctrine of Aquinas and the Primordial Directions of the Council.


We must consider what is fundamental, essential and productive in Aquinas by citing four options which form the main stages of the renewal barely begun by the Council. They point out places and conditions for a fruitful encounter of conciliar orientations and promises with the theology of Aquinas.


a) Perhaps the fullest and most understandable theological position at work in the Council is the harmonious integration of creation in the work of redemption. Its counterpart lies in the understanding of history as the fabric of salvation arranged and subordinated to an eschatological fulfillment. From this it follows that the whole cosmic and historical universe is conceived as a process of liberation and as an achievement of the Paschal Mystery which the gift of the Spirit turns into a reality in the Church and in the world.


Such a vision of salvation integrating, unifying and energizing the cosmos and history and becoming a source of grace and responsibility is present everywhere in Vatican II, especially in the most innovative texts of the Council. Different chapters of the first part of the constitution Gaudium et Spes develop these themes.


b) Closely connected with these motifs and explaining their principle, the constitution Guadium et Spes sets forth. in particular the mission of the Spirit, a universal mission yet one which is varied in its results. "The Spirit operates in history" (5) to bring to success and to God the work of salvation; to inspire, strengthen and rectify the aspirations, demands, and movements of human progress. Insistence on. the unity and identity of the Holy Spirit and on the diversity noticeable in the results of its action explains the unifying and pluralist vision which the Council proposes within history--one seen as tending toward its definitive, eschatological fulfillment--and explains why Vatican II fully acknowledges the stability of the temporal, physical, economic and cultural orders. The Spirit acts in a certain way in the People of God; it guarantees the specific mission and the indefectibility of the Church as source of truth and salvation. But from the very fact that the Church is of the Spirit, it is called to pay hommage to values and truths appearing in a partial or less important way in the life-and, aspirations of people, appearing in religions and even in a secularized world where the same Spirit is present as principle of all truth and of all good. As the source of discernment, the presence of the Spirit is thus the first principle of the life of the Church and of Christian existence.


c) In a doctrinally logical although semantically new definition the Church is presented as the "sacrament of salvation and of the reconciliation of the whole of humanity." This statement recognizes the expansion of sacramental conception beyond the realm of ritual. Above all, this understanding of Church as the fundamental sacrament characterizes the community of salvation as one sent, as mission, as place and as a quest of unity. The Church is already the eschatological gift of unity and peace; it is unity begun, badly in need of the perfect union of believers, of all religious people, indeed of all men and women hurt by atheism, idolatry and paganism.


d) Finally, let us point out a fourth point. Faith defined in the constitution Dei Verbum (no. 5), whose ideas underlie the fundamental positions of the Council, is characterized first as the conversion of the whole person to God, to the Living God, revealing himself through Christ in history and existing now through the grace of the Spirit. Faith is thus shown as a personal encounter which the Church raises up or encourages; it collaborates with the intellectual adherence which men and women give freely to the grace of the Spirit.


The union of grace with intelligence and liberty can only lead to an insistence on the fact that the action of the Spirit engenders research in and adherence to the truth as much as the awakening and the process of liberty. A dimension of interiority indicates the openness in Vatican II with all its originality. People can search for and find truth only in -complete liberty. The Spirit of holiness and love makes the Church a source of truth and a guardian of liberty. A pneumatological and anthropological interiority complements the objective, historical and communal aspects which the Council accentuated with a view to founding a stronger missiological and ecumenical opening of the Church as well as to grounding its comprehensive and dynamic positions with regard to politics, economics and culture.


After this brief reminder of basic points, let us emphasize the mutual benefit which-was to result from the encounter of the conciliar message with a renewed understanding of the theology of Thomas Aquinas. The conciliar message could not or would not express itself in a homogeneous and precisely delineated theology. Theology seeks new and sometimes divergent paths, making encounters and even dialogues difficult.,Could not reference to Aquinas favor the search for exactness and even for identity within Catholic theology?


But precisely for Aquinas' theology, the conciliar renewal and the post-conciliar challenges offer unprecedented opportunities for a new vitality and fecundity. First, Aquinas' theology will return to its basic .principles precisely as it encounters the points which the Council raised in the universe of creation and salvation. Conciliar insistence on the role of the Spirit in the life of the Church,, in Christian existence and in the history of peoples, cultures, religions; and on the Spirit as source of truth and liberty (with truth emphasized as much as liberty in the preparation and progress of faith)--all these conciliar contributions are extremely welcome and beneficial to the work of theological renewal. They help to rectify and restore balance to some Thomistic systems whose elaboration in historical and cultural forms hardened into partial formulas, even into polemics. Furthermore,. Aquinas' synthesis is marked by certain constraints coming from its ordo disciplinae, that is to say, from the method and model which scholastic theology used. As to the content, the same medieval context led Aquinas to treat certain basic questions of faith rather unsatisfactorily. If his teaching did not close the doors to the development of a theology of the Inquisition, nevertheless it left open the way to a theology of religious liberty, of ecumenism, and of a universal mission.(6) On the other hand, by encountering and absorbing Vatican II's message, the basic principles of the Summa Theologiae were thrown into new relief. The mission of the Spirit, the "new law," liberty at the heart of faith, as well as ideas about our anticipation of eschatology, the virtues of faith and hope and the primacy of charity as "form of the virtues" (7) were aspects which previously Thomism had not been able to employ. They became productive, however, in that springtime which the Council initiated in the Church and the world.


3. Thomas Aquinas: Vatican II's Commendation


The general directions of the Council, on its attitude at once comprehensive and selective with regard to different forms of Tradition, pointed out the global limits and the context of life and of doctrine which could clarify the use it made of Thomas. The' recommendation of Aquinas was the result of debate and mature reflection set amid a series of discussions and arguments over a decree on the formation of priests. That schema distributed to the conciliar fathers in May,-1963 was the revised version of a document elaborated by the preparatory commission; it revived the prescriptions of the old Code of Canon Law (in 1366,2) stipulating that the "Philosophia perennis should be taught to future priests "secundum Sancti Thomae rationem, doctrinam et principia." Formation in theology should develop "S. Thoma magistro, sicut de philosphia dictum est. (8) Those texts often received glowing praise (9) but more and more interventions asked for a flexible statement, for one more attentive to the need to engage in dialogue with different cultures and to recognize the important contributions of modern and contemporary philosophies. Requests coming from representatives of Oriental churches were especially insistent. Balancing the different opinions, (10) the Council was able to reach unanimity on the following points:


a) Philosophical formation, mentioned first, does not refer explicitly to St. Thomas:. "The philosophical disciplines will be taught -- says the decree Optatam Totius -- in a way which will lead seminarians from the very beginning to a solid and coherent knowledge of the human person, the world and God. To succeed in this, they will rely on "the philosophical patrimony which is forever valid" ("innixi patrimonio philosophico perenniter valido"; #15). A note refers to the encyclical Humani Generis, citing the exact pages of the AAS (vol. 42 [1950], pp. 571-575) where Pius XII detailed the content of this "philosophical patrimony forever valid" and justified the attachment of the Church to the "Angelic Doctor" by virtue of the "eminent superiority of his method," and of "the harmony of his doctrine with divine revelation"; "it is supremely efficacious for assuring the fundamentals of the faith and for gathering usefully and without danger the fruits of a healthy progress." The Council continued: "Attention must also be paid to more recent fields of philosophical research-, especially to what exercises a significant influence in a particular country, and also to recent scientific progress. .            Here the decree touches on ideas from the encyclical Ecclesiam Suam where Paul VI in August, 1964, insisted upon the necessity and the format of dialogue.


b) Conciliar orientations on the teaching of dogmatic theology refer explicitly to Aquinas. After having assigned to biblical, patristic and historical sources a primordial place, the same conciliar decree adds: "Next to illumine the mysteries of salvation, seminarians should learn to penetrate them more deeply and to perceive their logic through reflection, with St. Thomas as master" (# 16). A note here refers to the discourses of Pius XII and Paul VI which emphasize how Thomas' doctrine "guides and stimulates research." Addresses by Paul VI in 1964 and 1965 had helped to clear the way for these conciliar decisions by declaring that fidelity to St. Thomas "far from resulting in a system unproductively turned in on itself, is capable of successfully applying its principles, methods and spirit to new tasks which the problematic of our day proposes for the consideration of Christian thinkers." (11)The Declaration Gravissimum Educationis on Christian education, citing that same speech of Paul VI, proposes to Catholic faculties and universities a program of courage and freedom in research: "New problems and areas of research created by progress in the modern world will be carefully studied. It will be possible to grasp more clearly how faith and reason unite to attain to truth." The conciliar declaration continues: "Doing that, one need only follow the way opened by the Doctors of the Church and especially by St. Thomas" (no. 10). To connect Aquinas' doctrine with all of tradition as a rallying point and not as a rupture and to extol his method and his spirit as an incitement to research and to dialogue in the Church and with different forms of culture -- this is the essence of the directives in agreement with the practice and orientation of the Council.


B. Contributions and Questions Coming from Contemporary Theology


Encouraged by the climate of liberty and research created or stimulated by Vatican II, Catholic theology strove to profit by the great conciliar orientations. But it also revived and emphasized other tendencies, viewing in a more or less critical fashion an ensemble of cultural, social and even political influences.


Let us next point out characteristic features of active, prominent, current theologies and the assumptions, methods and fields of research or thought which they explore. Along with its critique of Thomistic systems, such a survey can only contribute to a renewed and creative understanding of the theology of Aquinas.


 1. Positive or Critical Assumptions


Contemporary theology has set its goals clearly; its ambition is daringly universal. It seems to bypass seminaries and ecclesiastical institutions and even to dispense with models and systems of the past. To face problems created by culture, indeed to consider them a starting point for all research, to utilize scientific discoveries, to speak the language and employ the method accepted by the scholarly world if not by the experts - these are a few characteristics of a theology which would be present and active in today's society. In a perspective which is, as a whole, ecumenical, communication goes beyond the limits of systems, especially of scholastic systems. Conversely, a philosophy of the subject, a critical philosophy, a philosophy of history, a philosophy of science or a hermeneutical method universally applicable to scripture, to tradition and to statements by the magisterium of the Church attract theologians' attention as do different ways of expressing experience or of analyzing existence in our personal life and in society. These are the starting points (either stated or implicit) of the dynamic currents in Christian theology in the West.


2. A Triple Challenge: The Theologies of Existence, History and Liberation


Let us illustrate what is at stake here by looking briefly at three representative theologies:


a) Theologies of existence come from the union of three factors whose persistence guarantees their greatness or, at least, their widespread influence:

            - Faith. defined as the decision which involves a person of authentic existence before the light and by virtue of the Gospel message.

            - This message is grasped. and interpreted by a hermeneutic which analyzes the meaning of life existentially, taking into consideration the mythical representations of the New Testament at. their symbolic value, and relativizing ecclesiastical formulas considered in their doctrinal, "notional" content.

            - Such a vision of salvation, revelation and faith is dependent on a philosophy of the person which leaves little space for objective knowledge of God and salvation. For the person is capable of only two types of knowledge: by the first, one becomes receptive to the liberating understanding of existence, of subjects, of himself and of others; by the second, one is endowed with an "objectifying" knowledge which can grasp, measure and manipulate objects, a knowledge which would be servile and subjugating if applied to subjects (humans) and would become idolatrous if it aspired to encircle God, to reduce"God to the condition of an object, to dispose of him like a thing.


No one should underestimate the importance of-existential theologies, whose pioneer, R. Bultmann, remains the enduring point of reference. They emerge where-Christians try to speak of divine transcendance. Their strength comes from the fact that they gather culture and Christian thought into a coherent doctrine. Thus the idea of a "faith-decision" confers a cultural vitality on the doctrine of fiducial faith, so basic for Reformed piety and theology. On the other hand, the prolongation of Kantianism here refuses to theoretical reasoning any capacity to know God. Existential theologies were formulated in the light of the first elaborations of Heidegger who influenced contemporary thought extensively by his efforts to reinterpret the history of Western thought and to examine closely the ways of being and the depths of language.



b) The theologies of history from their beginning have clearly shown their rupture with traditional doctrinalelaborations. They hold the Hellenization of Christianity to be a fact"already achieved before the patristic era and strengthened during the Middle Ages. Theology must begin anew by refusing the framework and forms of Greek thought, especially its cyclic conception of history. The history of salvation, understood as a series of biblical events centered in the Christological event and aspiring to eschatological fulfillment, is the means and object of revelation. The entire field of theology will be none other than the hermeneutics, itself historical, of the history of salvation. Some dispute the postulates of an exclusivism which make biblical history the only instrumentality of revelation with the result that dogmatic enterprise pursued by the Church especially through the Councils is held in low esteem. Understood fully and intelligently, the history of salvation makes up the tissue of divine revelation, as the constitution Dei Verbum points out (cf. ch. I), and this fact still underlies Christian theology. But theological articulation is exactly what remains to be done; we search to actualize the history of salvation in the heart of existence, a history reaching out to the history of humankind and to the resources and challenges of cultures.


Similar theological expressions are used today by theologians who emphasize the reality of the history of salvation and to find in it a new inspiration for the Christian life. The theme of the history of salvation touches that of eschatology present and efficacious in the promise which generates hope. This theological current (e.g., J. Moltmann) stresses the fundamental, biblical fact that the divine revealing word is "promise." Revelation is not to be perceived as an "epiphany", a disclosing of God's being, but speaks of God only as coming, inviting the action of God and enabling the action of man. It creates new possibilities _of action and generates an anticipating waiting; it becomes creative in time and in liberty. Through hope, it makes present things to come even as it urges Christian action forward. Thus the promise creates something quite new in history, a "novum"real and qualitative, producing unprecedented events and possibilities. Through God's promise and our hope, history is in the process of becoming. Strictly speaking, a theology which is truly submissive to the divine word must be defined as: "Spes quaerens intellectum," correcting the traditional claims of connecting theological comprehension only to knowledge of the faith ("Fides quaerens intellectum.").


In the theology of hope, following upon the theologies of history (W. Pannenberg), the refusal to admit a God revealed and recognized in his being persists and strengthens those possibilities of knowledge arising from an intellectus fidei is denied or made incidental. Only knowledge which is consubstantial with dynamic hope, creative of action and a source of history, will serve as a primal and inventive principle for theology and for the life of the Christian and of the Church.


c) Liberation theologies. If we remain with the epistemological aspect of the structure and legitimacy of theological knowledge, we see an underlying affinity between the theologies of hope and the theologies of liberation. The first call for a reversal of perspectives: the eschatology which school manuals had almost relegated to an appendix on the "last ends" must now again become the source and first principle of all theology. Such a reversal is at the origin of theologies of liberation.



For them, the divine Word is essentially, primordially liberating. Certainly witnessed through scripture and the tradition of the Church, the living Word -- source, truth and salvation -- exists in the very act of liberation, in the process or praxis which constitutes the people of the New Covenant: theologies of liberation are fashioned by liberty, justice, knowledge, or better, by the recognition of God as liberator. It is not enough to say that the message of salvation is human improvement, that a liberation in the temporal or political order would be a corollary quite close to a conversion of the heart. More radical than so-called political theologies (developed in Germany after the war) the theologies of liberation refuse at first the spiritual-temporal and personal-social dichotomies arising out of the "privatization" of the understanding of salvation, a privatization which gives preference to personal salvation, to the pardon of personal sins and to the sanctification of souls. The really innovative starting point here is this: whatever the accuracy of abstract distinctions, the complete liberation of the human person and the knowledge of God must be grasped firmly as an indivisible totality. God's manifestation, the revelation of God in history, takes place in that time and in that place where the oppressed are being liberated and where they are liberating the oppressors.


When we describe praxis as that activity of global, social and personal, spiritual, cultural and political liberation, we could say of theology: "Praxis quaerens intellectum"; praxis is the reflection of the Church on living and committed faith.


C. Aquinas and Contemporary Theology


The projects of current theology, of which we have just given a few examples, may seem quite removed from Aquinas. More perhaps by silence or omission, his doctrine is now often the object of reservations or of' a predominant attitude of suspicion. Such a climate of suspicion can be explained by a whole range of criticisms accumulated through the centuries which Catholic theology today seems inclined to take seriously. These criticisms could be drawn together in the censure found in Heideggerian language and shared by some Christian thinkers: the authentic synthesis of Thomas Aquinas may be a model of onto-theology, of a theology in bondage to metaphysics, of a theology which might have misunderstood the originality and the transcendence of the God revealed by Jesus Christ.


If it missed its essential aim and objective, why would it be surprising that Thomistic theology would be shown incapable of grasping and legitimizing the most important data of the Christian message and the most urgent demands of today's thought? To stay with the preceding examples, is not Thomism the opposite of the theologies of existence, of history and of liberation? 1. Thomas Aquinas and the Crisis of the Foundations


This question should be discussed because it leads us into the deepest and most radical of contemporary interrogations. We touch here the crisis which is affecting the very foundations of theology. The stakes of such a universal and basic examination are as exciting as they are dangerous. It is, since the Middle Ages, as quaestiones disputatae that we are used to meeting questions on the existence of God, on divine mysteries in theological summae, but today they soon become something of a methodical doubt; there can be a questioning of the fundamentals of the faith born of the insecure position of many believers, an insecurity in danger of intensifying. Indeed, with a seriousness and a reality emphasized by the impact it has on the faith of the Christian people and on public opinion in general, theology ponders the originality of the Christian fact, asking about God revealed in Jesus Christ, about the person of Jesus, about salvation, the Gospel and about the universality of the Church's mission, the necessity of dialogue, indeed about the collective understanding of human problems, about the very survival of humanity. Theology must preserve the transcendence of the evangelical message and at the same time increase the stability of the political, economic, cultural order and make apparent the autonomy of scientific knowledge and research. Equally strong is the imperative to ground the liberating and originating action of human rights and of peace in the world in the primordial exigency of the Christian ethic.


If we look closely at these theologies and face the criticisms which different trends occasion, we notice an apparently insurmountable ensemble of paradoxes. To show the lordship of God - through Christ, in the Spirit -- acting universally on the world, history and existence seems to be the common purpose of a theology intending to be faithful to the Gospel message, but the attachment of the world to God is denounced as a cosmo-theology, implying God's dependence with respect to a universe whose demiurge or ultimate legitimation he would become. Analogously as ethico-theology and historico-theology the steps which bind God to the moral order or history, or which- would, seek therein ways to draw near to God are stigmatized as ethically or historically simplistic, and yet a consensus seems to be established in the majority of contemporary theological projects about the rejection of any metaphysical way of having access to God or of articulating the data of revelation.


If we use the Heideggerian notion of onto-theology, we seem to have to qualify and critique any way which would go from Being to God, which would result in the identification of God with the Supreme Being. This is a theism destructive of God. Such a theism would only be the elder sibling if not the parent of atheism, since it would bring God down to the level of beings of which God would be only the first in a series or in an order supposedly univocal. Thomas Aquinas has recently received a dual reproof: of being a theologian with a cosmo-theology, and being one with an onto-theology. "Even the greatest representatives such as Thomas Aquinas escape with difficulty the Heideggerian critique of metaphysics," declared C. Geffre. The French Dominican looks for a "non-metaphysical theology" whose task will consist in "going beyond theological objectivism and theological subjectivism.(12)


2. A True Fundamental Theology


We must now turn to the synthesis of Thomas Aquinas - in its originality. What are its theological foundations? We shall thus come upon positive contributions for the questions of contemporary theology.


a) Aquinas' Originality. The essential originality of Thomas Aquinas, which has lasted undiminished even up to now, springs from the breadth and depth of his preliminary design. For him, sacra doctrina is theology: knowledge of God himself and in himself, knowledge whose "subject" is God revealed, that is to say the object primordially known and becoming the shining light for the whole range of mysteries and realities which flow from him. Aquinas' starting point is not philosophical. He has in view primarily theological knowledge.


Such theological knowledge becomes possible by virtue of the transcending expansion which the intellect, while staying in its proper domain of rational capacity, receives from faith, or better yet from the theological triad of faith-hope-charity. This raising of the intellect -the constitutive moment of theological understanding -- is intimately connected with the relationship of an orientation and subordination of creation to salvation, of history to eschatological fulfillment, of human existence to holiness in the Spirit, of the ethical order to theological life. Here we can emphasize, in spite of the diversity of thought-forms, the fundamental agreement of the major orientations of Vatican II with the fundamental principles of the teaching of St. Thomas.


Theology must have recourse to the mediation of creation, interpreted in the ontological register, in the light of Being as well as in the mediation of history, of the network of conditions of existence, in view of integrating and legitimizing a Christian plan of personal, social, political ethics. But all these mediations -- ontological, historical, existential, ethical, political -- flow back to the God of revelation received in faith; their stability, their capacity to be known and illuminated flow from this source by participation. From the same source they receive their coherence within a theological system and arrange themselves there according to degrees which can be essentially differentiated and united only in an analogical way.


Contemporary issues lead us to consider more closely and to bring out more explicitly aspects of theological understanding to-which earlier Thomists paid little attention and which Aquinas himself never felt it necessary to emphasize. In a single movement, theological understanding, supported by faith, recognizes the transcendence of the revealed God who is its proper object, and recognizes the consistency of reason and of the metaphysical work which it can accomplish, of history and of the ethical order. These aspects of the vocation of humanity at the heart of the divine plan of the creator and savior.


Theology develops as a sort of appetite for knowledge -- one might say, in paraphrasing and condensing Thomas Aquinas,(13) as a form of knowledge, of knowledge of God, having God for the object which transcends, attracts and elevates the one who knows. Theology has roots in faith insofar as it is intellectual, insofar as it ushers in theological life by knowledge and by the eschatological tension of hope and the transforming force of charity come to widen and deepen.


Let us compare some of Aquinas' positions with contributions and interrogations of contemporary theology.


b) Theological Knowledge and Existential Decision. Existential theologies have insisted rightly on the importance and fertility of decision in the origin and development of faith, and on the orientation which it gives to Christian existence; consequently decision has a major role in theological understanding. Avoiding any concordism and respecting differences of the problematic and the noetic horizon, we still find in the doctrine and language proper to St. Thomas many similar factors, namely: an exaltation of the will, a primacy of spiritual affectivity recognized and accentuated as being the very root of the act of faith. At the beginning of faith there is a love of truth, absolute love of the only truth. The desire to know the true God is awakened and revived by the divine message resounding in the human person who is looking for the fulfillment of his or her destiny. One can never insist enough on the union of faith and hope in the heart of faith, on the synergy of desire and intellect as first principles of knowledge, on the teleological and eschatological perspectives which the theology of Thomas Aquinas develops. But the originality of this theology appears precisely in the fact that faith, affectively and voluntarily implanted, achieves a sort of step toward freedom even as it remains essentially and primoridally an activity of knowledge. It demands of people that they pass beyond their limits, even as it takes first form in the innermost part of the intellect itself. This is called paying homage to the Veritas Prima, the sovereign Truth, creative and saving, but recognizing at the same time both the infinite character of divine Truth and the finite character of the created intellect. "Perceptio Veritatis tendens in ipsam": theology should tend toward Truth without seeking to monopolize it. It refuses to enclose divine transcendence in notional limits and in the equalizing form of the judgments which every step in human knowledge must nevertheless take. Theology learns from faith itself that human knowledge is asked and summoned to go beyond itself, to act in the "non-objectivizing" realm. Its desire for objectivity must submit to the demands of its subject -- the divine mystery -- which the intellect could affirm only by denying limitations to its conceptual representations and to the inevitable deconstruction of its rational procedure. Such is the properly theological origin of the analogy, which Thomas Aquinas developed systematically by borrowing certain philosophical elements from the gnoseology and logic of Aristotle. The analogia entis does not take the place of the analogia fidei with which it conforms to a certain degree, and which it must serve by spreading out and adapting itself to theological imperatives. Following Thomas Aquinas, we can only, agree with Karl Barth's just irritation and his stigmatizing of an analogia entis which would make God one being among others, even at the head of all other beings. Likewise we can only welcome Bultmannian and post-Bultmannian intentions which refuse to enclose God and the work of salvation within the limits of an "objectivizing" knowledge. For Aquinas, however, the theological project remains a work of the intellect, of an intellect enriched by a transcendence made valid by divine creation and which the revealing Word and faith will actualize and complete.


c) St. Thomas and Onto-theology. Stripped of their technical presentation and uprooted from a carefully shaped system of thought, Heidegger's critiques and insights have tended to become, if not the common stance, at least an obligatory point of reference for a good number of contemporary theologians. Through a genealogical reconstruction, influenced by Nietzsche and by his original hermeneutics, Heidegger proposed to uncover, indeed to expose, the most profound orientations which inspired Western thought. The metaphysics of Greek philosophy with Plato as its source, from the beginning and in an inexorable way, has missed the question of Being by missing its difference with individual beings. Metaphysics searched for a basis for these contingent beings, to ground and to explain them: the existence of an uncaused cause. This ends in postulating the existence of a Supreme Being who is conceived as an infinite being and who will then crown, or better, found and legitimize the universe of beings, the total order of finite beings. Heidegger did not exceed the limits. of his own territory, the history and hermeneutics of philosophical thought, but a possible application quickly commanded the attention of theologians. For them, the misfortune of Christian theology consisted precisely in its sanction of (Greek) metaphysics; this caused its greatest error: it misunderstood the specificity of the Christian message and substituted for the revealed God the Supreme Being of onto-theology.



We must be grateful to critics who denounce such theological deviations as dangerous temptations precisely because they are subtle ones. Such warnings can be salutary if they incite us to a more attentive reading and to a deeper hermeneutical understanding of tradition, especially of the major positions of Thomas Aquinas.


To repeat, Aquinas, in the service of theological elaboration, employed a complete ontology as well as an anthropology, a cosmology and an ethics borrowed in substance and form from Greco-Roman thinkers. He did this deliberately. Replying to his critics he declared with a touch of irony that by using philosophical doctrines in the service of theological understanding, far from diluting the wine of divine wisdom, the Christian teacher was changing water into wine.(14)


Indeed, in the construction of his synthesis, the Summa, in which the elements of sacra doctrina are organized in all their splendor and spread out from a strictly epistemological viewpoint, appear the specific characteristics of a theology tending toward the transcendence of divine mysteries. He never tired of probing Scripture according to the methods and resources at his disposal with a view to inquiring into the meaning and coherence of the revealing Word and work of God. But in anything touching the systematic work of theology, Aquinas mobilized all the resources of reason and culture so as to obtain for the believer and for the Church the intellectual penetration, rationally articulated, of the mystery of God, God seen in his trinitarian life and in the generosity of his creative and saving love. Aquinas' intention to reveal as much as possible the mystery of God himself through the "perfectum opus rationis" would demand great inspiration and genius in theological synthesis. We can see that the ordo disciplinae, the rigor of the method adopted by Thomas Aquinas, would lead him to approach the unity of God before the Trinity of Persons, to proceed from the human person, from the analysis of of its capabilities and limitations to the understanding of human relations with God; and then to the study of Christology, of soteriology and of eschatology. At the beginning of the Summa theologiae we meet the theme of the ability of the human person to reach God; Aquinas stressed the value and the means of a rational approach to God, as well as the possibilities, limits, and conditions of a theological language. Of God, Thomas Aquinas did give a quasi-definition: the One-Who-Is, Esse Subsistens, associating the experience of reason to the audacious version that the Greek bible gave to the liberating theophany: Ego Eimi Ho On, Ego Sum Qui Sum. (Ex. 3, 14; cf. S. Th. I, q. 13, a. 11; I, q. 3) Thus, he approached the study of the divine Trinity only after the unity of God is identified as the Subsistent Being, First and Perfect, whose existence would be rationally established. To begin with a perfect being is the stumbling block for contemporary thinkers who observe there the characteristic procedure of an onto-theology.


A similar reproach would seem to be merited by any system which might deduce the mystery of the Trinity from a metaphysically constructed theism and reduce Christian theology to a natural, rationally based theology. The doctrine of Thomas Aquinas, however, is quite different. Certainly it aims to show that a natural and rational knowledge of God is possible, that it is accessible to any human intellect. This knowledge does not lead to the dangerously subtle fabrication of an intellectual idol, but to a knowledge which is true but imperfect, insufficient in itself for salvation. The human person cannot close in this partial knowledge when the Divine Word is announced; opening up to the transcendence and the magnanimity of revelation will subordinate to it every possible form of knowledge of God. Knowledge obtained by faith, of which theology aims to be the rationally articulated elaboration, will integrate, in intellectual and existential coherence, the rational knowledge of a God whose validity and boundaries it values.


Thus enlightened by faith, theological understanding without mediation grasps the mystery of the Unity and Trinity of God. Contemporary theologians glimpse (15) other approaches to a systematic reflection which would start initially from the Trinitarian life. Searching for a theological penetration of this same mystery, Aquinas felt it necessary to begin with everything that reason and faith can know about God viewed in the transcendence of his Being and in his divine activity whose end is creation. He then looks at the life of thought, of will and of love, as it is reflected in the human person, the image of God, who by means of participation and analogy, reverts to a certain knowledge of the One who is the Principle of human being and the End of human destiny. Theology distinguishes, analyzes, arranges the potential and different modalities of knowledge with a view to a total and coherent approach to the divine mystery. It respects God's transcendence at the same time as it tries to respect the human being in its dignity and weakness. To be sure, some contemporary theologians may prefer other ways but they must confront the teaching of Aquinas correctly understood.


d) Connections with the Theologies of History and Hope. We would like to mention some ways in which a renewed knowledge of the synthesis of Thomas Aquinas relates to some of the dynamic currents of contemporary theology.


The primacy of the theological dimension which Aquinas points out in Christian existence and in sacra doctrina permits him to speak to the theologies of history, hope and ethical action, especially political commitment.


Thomas Aquinas deliberately introduced into the thread of his systematic theology the events in the history of salvation which set off the event of Christ. On the other hand, like most people of the Middle Ages, he prolonged the eschatological perspectives received from the patristic heritage. His theology did not develop an autonomous vision of history in which human action would intervene through various projects. A line of positive factors, especially the orientations of the last Council, draw us to look beyond the limits and mentality of one epoch and to find in their richness the principles of the doctrine of Aquinas in those areas.


One such principle views in depth the links of the prophetic revelation with faith and history.- We mention here two major orientations:


First of all, in accordance with Aquinas' theological primacy mentioned above, history becomes a mediator of divine revelation but through the light of the prophetic Word and of the faith which it stimulates. God alone remains the essential and primordial object of faith. His light diffuses through all the biblical and ecclesial mediations which he wished to employ. To God, source of salvation, refer all the events of history which he has chosen as means of revelation and salvation. Recognizing that those events, through divine efficacy, become objects of faith and source of salvation, Aquinas proclaimed clearly and boldly; when I confess my faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this profession means first in theological strictness that I believe in God who reveals himself and saves me in and by the death and resurrection of his Son.


Second, by the primacy of the revealed God, which surpasses the order of being just as the tissue of history transcends it, history is recognized and valorized in all its consistency, as the temporal development of humanity. Such an understanding involves the reality and contingency of the facts of history and the responsibility of human agents who lead it or take part in its action: kings, leaders, peoples, groups, individuals. For whatever touches the meaning of religious or profane history, the significance which events can assume for the Christian era, Aquinas remains extremely sparing of words. (17) Nevertheless, in a deeply theological perspective, we receive valuable indications of the eschatological character of faith itself, aspects which touch decisively the understanding of existence and history. Agreeing with patristic and medieval tradition, Aquinas defines the virtue of faith (he refers to Hebrews 11) as the founding principle of all teaching. "Est autem fides sperandarum substantia rerum, argumentum non apprentium." "Substantia rerum sperandarum,"faith is the assured anticipation of promised goods; it inaugurates in us the intentional presence of the future; it become for us a principle tending toward the contemplation of the Truth already known initially and imperfectly. Not to confuse it with hope -- which Aquinas characterizes as the strengthening and dynamism of desire turning toward the divine, promised good, faith as knowledge is stimulated by hope and remains inclined toward eschatological fulfillment. Already the desire to believe is stirred up by the Word which resounds as a promise to people in search of happiness and the fulfillment of human destiny. This vital joining of desire and knowledge, this synergy of faith and hope forming the first spark of Christian life is developed by Thomas Aquinas only in a personal perspective, in the framework of -a theology of the virtues. (18) It remains, however, open to perspectives of an eschatological realization of all the People of God, an idea evoked by the last Council, (cf. Lumen gentium, ch. 7) and by the historical vision which it suggests (cf. Gaudium et Spes, no. 26, 4 and passim): the Spirit acts in history to carry through God's plan, to emphasize our responsibilities and to guide our action.


A faithful and up-to-date rereading of Thomas Aquinas uncovers the same essential data which modern theologies of hope proclaim and set up in different ways. Rather than "spes quaerens intellectum," we would say with Aquinas, "Fides sperans quaerit intellectum." The Word-promise always opens new fields of understanding and action in existence and in history. But with Aquinas we would be inclined to notice first that the new horizons (opened by promise and by the historical projects which it illuminates and raises up) presuppose, beyond history, the revelation of the Lord of history, transcending and dominating all past, present and future events. The revelation of God is the first goal of the prophetic and evangelical Word. It could not be identified with the static and timeless "epiphanies" of certain pagan religions. (19) Only the knowledge of God confers the true meaning, the authentic dynamism to life, action and Christian hope.


e) New Aspects of Liberation Theology. At the dawn of modern times, when America was discovered, a lucid and creative re-reading of Thomas Aquinas gave rise to a theological renewal open to the missionary and to cultural and political problems which marked this decisive historical turning point for the Church and civilization. I refer particularly to the Spanish theologians of the School of Salamanca, especially to their inspiration, Francisco Vitoria, and to the Dominican missionaries who spiritually engendered Las Casas, their spokesman and their prophetic personification. One reading of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas tried to justify as "natural" the institution of slavery and justified the enslaving colonialist methods. But those pioneers of the human rights drew inspiration from the Gospel and Aquinas to declare the equality of men and women and of peoples not only "before God" but in a juridical-political perspective. All people, "barbarian" Indians included, bear the indestructible image of God. Their original liberty is inalienable. They must be "liberated," so that they might be served. (20)


This lays the basis-for international law and recalls an evangelization founded on grace and liberty, on grace enabling liberty of' freedom. This is at the heart of Thomas Aquinas' Christian anthropology.


How should we understand such a certain in theology, a conflict between two-ways of reading tradition? Some ended up by ratifying the status quo hostile to human beings (I refer to the "theology" of a G. Sepulveda, for example),. Whereas others, like Vitoria and Las Casas, discovered in Aquinas' theology indications for new departures on the Church-and even for humanity. Through history, we approach the essential question which liberation theologies raise by appealing to the example and inspiration of Las Casas.


Three attitudes, closely, connected, constitute the triple source of inspiration for the theologians who were bent on truth as well as on justice and liberty. We offer them, as criteria for a lucid hermeneutics and a renewed and creative understanding of the theology of Thomas Aquinas.


First, beyond specific conclusions probably influenced and narrowed down by previous eras, we must again find the primordial inspiration, the first principles which established the system and which order its equilibrium and major articulations. Thus, a Sepulveda may have been right for the material detail of some assertions about the "natural character" of slavery which Aristotle had defended in a given cultural context and which Thomas Aquinas did not sufficiently criticize. On the other hand, reverting to the basic principles of justice, the natural law, and the fundamental equality of men and women which form the basis for the moral theology of Aquinas, his disciples in the sixteenth century happily brought to light new orientations in the meaning of liberty, equality and the necessary solidarity among all peoples, especially between the Indians, who were still. pagan and the civilized and Christian Europeans.


Second, such a living and innovative theology became possible (and this is the second condition) because it was rooted in the life of the Church. By themselves (this is the case with Las Casas) or by' virtue' of a fraternal association with those who were directly involved (Vitoria and the other masters of Salamanca), theologians participated effectively in the praxis of the local communities. They benefitted from their experiences, they responded to, their. needs, and in that way they were in contact with the real-problems of the Church and humanity. They knew the other side of those problems, the side of the colonizing world, the interests and motives which actually determined the achievement of colonization and the effort of Christianization. Such an association with the Church, both local and universal, became the main stimulant and rectifier for the thought of the theologians of that time as it must be for theologians of all times.


Finally, evangelical resourcefulness permitted the theologians to criticize and go beyond narrow mentalities and interests, even if the latter could claim support from some ecclesiastical institutions. They appealed directly to universal brotherhood, to the Spirit of ,Christ, to the apostolic mission with which the Gospel had entrusted to the Church. So they could criticize concessions which were too general or ambiguous, concessions granted by the bulls of Alexander VI (and earlier by his predecessors) which fostered the domineering ambitions of the colonizers.


Amid new conditions in cultural and political realms with their planetary dimensions, liberation theologians have awakened this same conscience and Christian reflection. What they propose is the universalization of the achievement of Vitoria and Las Casas but in situations created by the possibilities and challenges of the technological world.


Closely linked with concrete praxis, liberation theologies are connected with history and places, with peoples and regions: considering people in their real conditions of liberty or dependence, they tend to become regional. They see our history and world torn by contradictions as oppressors impose upon the oppressed. The height of oppression appears in in the fact that the oppressed are willing to be collaborators in the oppression. Liberation theologies denounce many a perverse theology developed in "centers" (northern hemisphere") and then exported, with its own oppression, toward the "peripheries" (the oppressed "third world"). Enrique Dussel points out that such a theology might quell the scandal of oppressions, might put to sleep the oppressed even as it salves the conscience of the oppressors. But there is danger too that, in the attempt to liberate theological denunciation will be used, arousing resentment and fratricidal conflict.


Here a deeper penetration into the theology of Aquinas will have the opportunity to strengthen the results of a radical criticism and an absolute authenticity which now vitalize Latin-American theology. More perhaps than other theological currents, liberation theology could receive from Aquinas two valuable contributions:


1) A bringing to light of the absolute and universal character of right -- we would say today of basic rights -- which theology discovers as it considers the human being. Human nature and person are referred to the Absolute God, the knowledge of whom is inseparable from recognizing justice. Here we have articulated theologically and ethically the prophetic and evangelical message which links the "knowledge of God" to the respect and promotion of rights, especially for the poor, the dispossessed, the socially uprooted.(21)


 2) Second, the integration and legitimization in moral theology of the primordial demand to set up a social order, structured by institutions and laws are always applied and adapted to the effective realization of the law. In fact, the theological synthesis of Aquinas has given the widest possible range to the study of justice, right, laws as a primordial ethical requirement. Yet it eschews the privatization which characterizes some modern ethics. Such a valorization of justice on the personal and social plane can merge with the new demands and projects on a global scale for the full liberation of humanity aiming at healthy social structures and institutions. Today this requires considerable research including the analysis of varied forms of injustice and oppression and the systematic use of "technique in the service of love" (Lebret).


* * * * *


As a theological achievement disclosing both wide perspectives and urgent needs, the synthesis of Thomas Aquinas faces today the problems and aspirations of the post-conciliar Church. His theology can recognize and carry new enrichments sparked from a confrontation with modern theologies of history, existence and liberation.


This theology is more real today than yesterday. It will probably be even more so tomorrow.


C.J. Pinto de Oliveira, O.P.


(Father Pinto de Oliveira is a member of the Dominican Province of Brazil and is at present professor at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He has written a number of articles and books on Christian ethics and on the application of moral theology to issues in politics, personal life and the media. This article appeared in French in Nova et Vetera 56:3 (1981), 161 - 185; a translation edited by Thomas O'Meara, O.P. (University of Notre Dame) appears with permission of the publisher.)




FOOTNOTES (Oliveira)


1) A. Walz pointed this out in his study "La giustificazione tridentina. Note sul debattito e sul decreto conciliare," Angelicum 28 (1951), 97-138. On the place of St. Thomas' doctrine in the conciliar decree, cf. pp 134 ff.


2) The conciliar text (ch. 2) itself refers to q. 1 of the la Pars of the Summa theologiae. What seems to be most important is the general perspective: basic ideas and distinctions which dominate the composition of Dei Filius arising from the problematic of faith-reason, creation--revelation which revive and emphasize, in the framework of the anti-rationalist polemics of the 19th century, Thomistic motifs as the "scholastic renewal" systematized them. Cf G. Paradis, "Foi et Raison au Premier Concile du Vatican," in De doctrina Concilii Vatican Primi (Rome, 1969) pp. 221-281.


3) The projects emanating from the Conciliar Commission "De doctrina fidei et morum" (with Cardinal Ottaviani presiding) were all distinguished by concern for a precise if not rigid formulation of traditional doctrine. Thanks to the publication of the Acta syndolalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II (Typis polyglotis Vaticanis, 1967), we can compare the scholastic purport of the primitive schemata with the definitive wording adopted by the Council. The judgment expressed in the following pages is the result of that confrontation in the Constitutions Lumen gentiun, Dei Verbum and Gaudium et spes.

4) Cf. C.J. Pinto de Oliveira, "Gospel and Rights of Man. The Theological Originality of John Paul II," in John Paul II and the Rights of Man (Fribourg, Switzerland, .1980). It analyzes the point of view of the present Pope (then Archbishop of Cracow) during the Council through texts published in the collection cited in the preceding note and in other texts still unedited.


5) Cf. the author's "'L'Esprit agit dans l'histoire.' La totalisation hégélienne de l'histoire confrontée avec les perspectives du Concile Vatican II," Hegel et la théologie contemporaine (Neuchâtel, 1977), pp. 54-73.


6) See, for example, questions 10 & 11 of the II-II on the "unfaithful." In ,_ 11, a.3 the doctrine of tolerance is formulated in the objections with "authorities" borrowed from Scripture and from Greek thought. The article's teaching also draws inspiration from the anti-Donatist writings of St. Augustine.


7) Pertinent here are the basic tents of the Summa theologiae. On the doctrine of the "mission of the Spirit," see I, q. 43; it is a pivotal question situated between a contemplation of the Trinity in itself and a look at the plan and the works of creation and salvation; it should be brought into contact with the treatise on the New Law--the evangelical Law which is the Law of liberty and of the Spirit(I-II qq. 106-108); on liberty at the heart of faith (II-II, q. 4 and De Veritate, 14, 2) and on charity as the "forma virtutum", see II-II, q. 23, 8. These nuggets of Aquinas' doctrine fashion an original theology faithful to the Gospel and to tradition, and able today to orient the life of a Christian and of the Church.


8) Cf. Acta Synodalia..., vol. III, Period. III, Para VII, pp. 523-524.


9) An Australian bishop declared: "Summe laudatur. Retineatur omnino," apropos of the determenations concerning Aquinas. Cf. Acta Synodalia, p. 969.

10) As a recommendation of Thomas Aquinas which takes account of cultural diversities, the needs of ecumenical dialog and of Oriental churches, see the interventions of Msgr. Hoffner (Ibid., p. 860), of the Conferences of Indian bishops (Ibid., pp. 895-896), of the bishops of Indonesia (Ibid., p. 970), of Canada (Ibid., p. 951), of the Patriarch of the Melkites (Ibid.,p. 900), or in the name of the Maronites-(Ibid., p. 938).


11) Allocution of Paul VI at the Sixth International Thomist Convention, Sept. 10, 1965. Optatam totius refers to that conference (note 36 of the conciliar decree) without giving any reference. It is also cited by the Declaration Gravissimum educationis (No. 10, note 31 which refers to the text of the Osservatore Romano Sept. 13-14, 1965). We cite the text given by Documentation Catholique No. 1957 (Oct. 17, 1965), col. 1747-1750.


12) Cf., "Théologie" in Encyclopedia Universalis, 15 (Paris, 1973), p. 1090.


13) See especially: S. Th. II-II, q.2, a. 10; In Boetii de Trinitate, q. II.


14) In Boetii de Trinitate, q. 2, art. 2, ad 5.


15) See for example W. Pannenberg, "Subjectivite de Dieu et doctrine trinitaire," in Hegel et la théologie contemporaine, pp. 171-189.


16) Cf. De Veritate q. 14, a.8, ad 13 and ad 14; q. 13 ( on prophecy).


17) Cf. Max Seckler, Das Heil in der Geschichte (Munich,1964). pp. 179ff.


18) Cf. Sum. theol., II-II, q.4; De Ver. q. 12, a. 2 (where the same theme as that of the Summa is developed).


19) Cf. J. Moltmann, Theology of Hope (New York, 1967).


20) The fundamental text here is the De Indis of Francisco de Vitoria, the entire Relectio I. On the perduring divine image, the inanlienable right of "dominium," and on the disposition and possession of land and of temporal goods see no. 5. Cf. also the Obras completas of F. de Vitoria (Madrid, 1960), p. 652. Las Casas in his Testament takes seriously his own vocation of being the defender of the inalienable liberty of the Indians and of his pledge to "liberate" them. Enrique Dussel concludes from this that Las Casas was, in fact and to the end, a precursor of "liberation theology." Disintegracion de la cristianidad colonial y liberacion (Salamanca, 1978), p. 116; cf. Zilvio Zavala, La defense des droits de l'homme en Amérique latine (16th to 18th centuries) (UNESCO, 1964).


 21) On the development of these ideas (with a bibliography) cf. C.-J. Pinto de J Oliveira, "D'une anthropologie théologique a une morale politique," in N.A. Luyten, ed., L'Anthropologie de Saint Thomas (Fribourg, 1974).