Pope Benedict devoted the talk at yesterday’s general audience to a full throated commendation of the theology of St. Thomas. After detailing the way in which the Angelic Doctor gets the relation of faith and reason just right, the Pope concludes :
St. Thomas offers us a wide and enduring conception of human reason: wide since it is not limited by the boundaries of so-called empirical-scientific reason, but rather open to the entirety of being and therefore also to the fundamental and undeniable questions of human life; and endurng because human reason, above all if it receives the inspirations of the Christian faith, promotes a civilization that recognizes the dignity of the human person, the intangibility of his rights, and the cogency of his duties. It is not surprising that the doctrine regarding the dignity of the person, fundamental for the recognition of the inviolability of the rights of man, matured in intellectual currents that accepted the inheritance of St. Thomas Aquinas, who had an extremely high estimation of the human creature. He defined it, with his rigorously philosophical language, as that most perfect thing that is found in nature, namely a subject subsisting in a rational nature.
For those who like to read Vatican tea leaves, it’s interesting that Pope Benedict focused on St. Thomas. In Catholic theology these days, especially in the seminaries, there has been some soul-searching about just what should be taught, and Thomism of various sorts is making a comeback. Is Benedict signaling support for this trend?