Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Question for Catholic churchmen:
Are major seminaries still doubting Thomas?

Utterly exhausted after a wonderful and intense first day of grad school as one of the few lay students at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies, but have a Q. to pose to readers in the know, especially priests and seminarians:

Today, I contacted a Catholic priest I know—a particularly inspiring one who has helped me to grow in the Faith—to tell him of  my delight at being where I was and thank him for his prayers. I added that sometime I would like to talk with him about the joy I experienced upon realizing that learning Thomism would enable me to gain a deeper understanding of the movements of God in my soul that had sparked my conversion.

The priest interrupted me to say he wasn't a Thomist.

I started to say that was fine, thinking I couldn't expect everyone to be as awed by the Angelic Doctor as I was. But then Father explained that by the time he reached seminary—which I know was during the 1990s—Thomism had been "denounced" at that particular school, which has a reputation as one of the best (if not the best) in the country. They didn't teach Thomism there "at all," he said.

I had been aware there was a backlash against Aquinas sometime during the mid-20th century, one that began before Vatican II, but I did not realize it had lasted at at least one top U.S. seminary into the 1990s. It was a surprise to learn the Angelic Doctor's teachings could have been denounced at so late a date, to the point where the "best and brightest" were not being taught his work at all.

Is that still the case at many, or even most, U.S. seminaries? Or has the tide finally turned back to at least a grudging acknowlegment that St. Thomas deserves Summa respect?