Pope Francis says " The Word of God, already received in the heart, must reach the intelligence to "renew our way of thinking"..." to Congress on St. Thomas Aquinas - FULL TEXT

Clementina room
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Off-the-cuff words of the Holy Father
Address of the Holy Father delivered
I like this meeting after so many years because it is about reflecting on a teacher. Sometimes, when we reflect on a person who has been the creator of schools, philosophical or theological, we risk exploiting the teacher to say the things that seem to me, and this has happened with Thomism. Many interpretations - I am thinking of one for example - of casuistry, of Thomism, which has been a slave to casuistic thought. I remember that of a Spaniard who wrote so many books, a certain Losada, I think he was called that, I don't remember well, that to explain the "metaphysical continuum" according to St. Thomas, he invented the "puncta inflata". Thus an interpretation of a casuistic type, of an opportunistic type, diminishes and makes the teacher's thought ridiculous.
When we want to explain the thought of a teacher, the first step is contemplation, to be received in that magisterial thought. The second, shyly, is the explanation. And in the end, with a lot of caution, the interpretation, but this with great caution. The teacher is great, the teacher is someone who teaches school and who has created a school. The teacher is one who sets in motion a whole current of thoughts. Never use the teacher for the things I think, but put the things I think in the light of the teacher, let the light of the teacher interpret this.
Allow me to tell you about an experience of a Dominican. In the Synod on the family there were points that were not clear on Catholic doctrine and also interpretations of St. Thomas that were not clear. At that time we were really in question because we could not find the way. It was a Dominican, Cardinal Schönborn, who gave us a lesson in Thomistic theology - but at a height! -, because he understood Thomas and explained it without using it, with greatness. We lived that experience of that great Dominican, who was Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There would be more…, but I want to mention this. On the one hand, there are many interpretations that reduce the thought of the master and then the experience of one who opened it: "No, this is what Thomas says", and proved by what he said. This is wonderful, this is a very great thing.
This is why I ask you: before talking about St. Thomas, before talking about Thomism, before teaching, we must contemplate: contemplate the teacher, understand beyond intellectual thought what the teacher lived and what the teacher wanted to tell us. The signal is when I reduce the figure of a teacher to the figure of a thinker, I spoil the thought; I take away his strength, I take his life away. And St. Thomas was a light to the thought of the Church, and we must defend him from all these "intellectualistic reductionisms" that imprison the greatness of his magisterial thought.
This is what I wanted to tell you, in addition to the speech that each of you will bring. But I wanted to stop and tell you this: he is a teacher, he is not an intellectual like many others, no, he is different.
Thank you so much. And now I'd like to give you the blessing and then say hello to those who want to say hello. If someone doesn't want to say hello, I don't oblige!
Distinguished Academicians, Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am pleased to welcome all of you who have come to Rome from different parts of the world to celebrate the 11th International Thomistic Congress. I thank Cardinal Luis Ladaria for the kind words he addressed to me. I greet Father Serge-Thomas Bonino, President of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, and all the academics present. I also express my gratitude to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi who, as President of the Coordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies, has accompanied the life of the Academy for many years.
Next year will be the seventh centenary of the canonization of St. Thomas Aquinas, which took place in Avignon in 1323. This event reminds us that this great theologian - the "common Doctor" of the Church - is first of all a saint, a faithful disciple of the incarnate Wisdom. For this reason, in the collect prayer of his memory we ask God, "who made him great for the pursuit of holiness of life and the passion for sacred doctrine", to "give us to understand his teachings and to imitate his examples ". And here we also find your spiritual program: to imitate the Saint and let yourselves be enlightened and guided by the Doctor and Master.
The same prayer highlights Fra Tommaso's passion for sacred doctrine. In fact, he was a man passionate about the Truth, a tireless researcher of the face of God. His biographer of him reports that as a child he would have asked: "What is God?" [1]. This question accompanied Thomas and motivated him throughout his life. This search for the truth about God is moved and permeated by love. Thus he writes: "Driven by an ardent will to believe, man loves the truth he believes, considers it in his intelligence and embraces it with the reasons he can find for this purpose" [2]. Humbly pursuing, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the intellectus fidei is not optional for the believer, but is part of the very dynamism of his faith. The Word of God, already received in the heart, must reach the intelligence to "renew our way of thinking" (cf. Rom 12: 2), so that we evaluate all things in the light of eternal Wisdom. Therefore, the passionate search for God is simultaneously prayer and contemplation, so that St. Thomas is the model of theology that is born and grows in the atmosphere of adoration.

This search for the truth about God uses the two "wings" of faith and reason. As we know, the way in which St. Thomas was able to coordinate the two lights of faith and reason remains exemplary. St. Paul VI wrote: "The central point and almost the core of the solution that St. Thomas gave to the problem of the new confrontation between reason and faith with the genius of his prophetic intuition, was that of the reconciliation between the secularity of the world and the radicality of the Gospel, thus escaping the unnatural tendency to negate the world and its values, without however failing in the supreme and inflexible demands of the supernatural order "[3]. The Christian, therefore, is not afraid of starting a sincere rational dialogue with the culture of his time, convinced, according to the formula of Ambrosiaster dear to Thomas, that "every truth, whoever it is told, comes from the Holy Spirit" [4] .

In the collect prayer already mentioned, we ask for the grace not only to imitate the Saint but also to "understand his teachings". Indeed, St. Thomas is the source of a tradition of thought which has been recognized as "the perennial novelty" [5]. Thomism should not be a museum object, but an ever-living source, according to the theme of your Congress: “Vetera novis augere. The resources of the Thomist tradition in the current context ”. In the words of Jacques Maritain, we need to promote a "living Thomism", capable of renewing itself in order to answer today's questions. Thus, Thomism goes on following a double vital movement of "systole and diastole". Sistole, because we must first focus on the study of the work of St. Thomas in its historical-cultural context, to identify its structuring principles and grasp its originality. After, however, comes the diastole: addressing today's world in dialogue, to critically assimilate what is true and just in the culture of the time.

Among Aquinas's many illuminating doctrines, I would just like to draw attention, as I did in the Encyclical Laudato si ', to the fruitfulness of his teaching on creation. Not surprisingly, the English writer Chesterton called Aquinas "Thomas of the Creator". Creation is for St. Thomas the very first manifestation of God's stupendous generosity, indeed, of his gratuitous mercy [6]. It is the key to love, says Thomas, who has opened the hand of God and always keeps it open [7]. He then contemplates the beauty of God that shines in the ordered diversity of creatures. The universe of visible and invisible creatures is neither a monolithic block nor pure formless diversity, but forms an order, a whole, in which all creatures are linked because they all come from God and go to God, and because they act as one. on the others thus creating a dense network of relationships. "St. Thomas Aquinas wisely emphasized that multiplicity and variety come from the intention of the first agent, who wanted what each thing lacks to represent divine goodness to be made up for by other things, so that his goodness does not it can be adequately represented by only one creature. For this, we need to grasp the variety of things in their multiple relationships. Therefore, the importance and significance of any creature is better understood if it is contemplated in the overall plan of God "[8].

For all this, dear brothers and sisters, in the footsteps of my predecessors I recommend to you: Go to Thomas! Do not be afraid to increase and enrich the old and ever fruitful things with new things. I wish you good work and heartily bless you. And I ask you to please pray for me. Thank you!

[1] Petrus Calo, Vita s. Thomas Aquinatis, in Fontes vitae s. Thomae Aquinatis, a cura di D. Prümmer e M.-H. Laurent, Toulouse, s. d., p. 19.

[2] Summa theologiae, IIa-IIae, q. 2, a. 10.

[3] Lett. ap. Lumen Ecclesiae (20 novembre 1974), 8: AAS 66 (1974), 680.

[4] Ambrosiaster, In I Cor 12,3: PL 17, 258. Cfr S.Tommaso d’Aquino, Summa theologiaeIa-IIae, q. 109, a. 1, ad 1.

[5] S.Giovanni Paolo II, Lett. Enc. Fides et ratio (14 settembre 1998), 43-44.

[6] Cfr. san Tommaso d’Aquino, In IV Sent., d. 46, q. 2, a. 2, qla. 2, ad 1; Summa theologiaeIa, q. 21, a. 4, ad 4.

[7] Cfr S. Tommaso d’Aquino, In II Sent., Prologus.

Source: Vatican.va

[8] Lett. Enc. Laudato si’ (24 maggio 2015), 86.