Catholic theology yesterday and today: A Thomist’s response to Dr. Larry Chapp

What is needed now, in the midst of head-spinning discontinuity, is an appreciation of the continuity of faithful Catholic thought in the 20th century, despite some of its major disagreements and alterations.

Undated photo of St. Peter's Basilica during Second Vatican Council. (Lothar Wolleh/Wikipedia)

It was with great interest that I read Dr. Larry Chapp’s recent column “The Progressive Revolution’s Continued Control of the Ecclesial Narrative” (May 18, 2023). Dr. Chapp and I agree quite substantively on the current issues besetting the Church, as a kind of progressivism has moved into the daylight from the academy and among the clergy and laity more broadly. The desire to be a “Church on the move”, ultimately in step with the reigning zeitgeist of the contemporary order, risks reinflaming the controversies that beset the Church in the 19th century leading up to the First Vatican Council, and in the early 20th century in the context of the so-called “Modernist” Crisis.

It is with no small sorrow that I see the counter reaction to this state of affairs now placing the Second Vatican Council in the crosshairs of questioning. As a Ruthenian Catholic, I can list a host of conciliar fruits that have been immensely beneficial for the various Eastern Churches in union with Rome. I have no desire to aid those who look to reject the Council in reaction to the immense issues facing the Church. I understand many traditionalists’ rage concerning all those who wish to take up anew the project of what Jacques Maritain said was the “chronolatrous fatuity” of those who are choosing to “kneel before the world.” Aware of the dated and confrontational nature of the term, he nonetheless did not hesitate, early in The Peasant of the Garonne, to speak of the “neo-modernism”—not only of liberal Protestants but, more importantly for him, among a kind of “immanent apostasy” of Catholic thinkers within the Church. It was a situation (then in 1966, in the original French) that he deemed was a virulent fever, “compared to which the modernism of Pius X’s time was only a modest hay-fever.”1

And the fever has raged on. However, sympathetically understanding traditionalist rage is one thing, accepting its anti-Conciliar rejections is another.

I believe, in any case, that Dr. Chapp would agree that Maritain’s diagnosis was correct. (In Peasant, Maritain shows himself to be deeply reverential in regard to the Council.) Obviously, the language of “modernism” is immensely fraught. In the mid-1940s, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s use of the term in response to the writings of certain theologians, most especially a work by Fr. Henri Bouillard, SJ, and certain privately circulating theological and philosophical papers, enflamed an entire debate which could have been conducted more irenically if the specter of Pascendi dominici gregis and the Anti-Modernist Oath were not so quickly evoked. Even Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s later interventions in this affair have remained mostly unknown, no doubt due to the rhetorically spectacular nature of the term “modernism.” Thus, we need not use this term, dating from the early 20th century and freighted with all sorts of resonances, nearly all of which serve only to prevent understanding.

What remains true, however, is the fact that our debates today over faith, theology, and the life of the Church remain in basic continuity with the longer arc of history that goes back into the 19th century. Fr. Gerald McCool, SJ, who wrote from a perspective differing from my own, well observed in his Nineteenth Century Scholasticism:

The contemporary debate over theological method is simply another phase in the dialectical movement of Catholic theology’s response to the challenge of post-Enlightenment thought from the beginning of the nineteenth century through Vatican I, Aeterni Patris, the Modernist crisis, between-the-wars Thomism, the New Theology controversy, and Vatican II up to the present. To understand where we are in Catholic scientific theology, we must understand where we have come from and how far we have traveled in the course of the last two centuries. The contemporary quest for an adequate method in Catholic theology has a history. The better that history is known, the clearer will be the theologian’s understanding of his own discipline and his own scientific task.2

Now, to bring things back into connection to Dr. Chapp’s recent article. I completely agree with his concerns, and on the whole with his general outlook concerning the nature of the Second Vatican Council as well as its interpretation during the papacies of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. However, I should like to register a point of nuance, which I actually think is of assistance in overcoming the progressivist mania of today. In short, I think that it is very important not to present the Council as a kind of definitive victory of Ressourcement theology over scholasticism. I must be very careful, however, with what I mean in this regard, for it is not at all my desire to reinflame fratricidal conflict between Scholastics and Ressourcement theologians.

Obviously, every Council has had its theological winners and losers. And the Second Vatican Council was motivated by the interventions of non-Scholastic and even (faithful) anti-Scholastic voices. But, in order for there to be continuity in the midst of reform from one period of the Church to another, we must have a kind of respect for the orthodox position that came prior to that Council. To present the Ressourcement vein of theology (itself very internally differentiated), even in its Communio form, as the sole theological outlook of the post-conciliar Church risks a kind of condemnation of the whole of post-medieval theology, which would supposedly be nothing more than a rat’s nest of theological missteps from the time of the high Middle Ages until the mid-20th century.

Interestingly enough, contemporary Thomism sometimes expresses this sort of attitude as well, often treating contemporary scholarly literature with infinitely more respect than the scholastics of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Leonine Revival periods. But, the outlook is also present in certain veins of Communio thinkers, who have at least the propensity to a kind of disdain for Baroque scholasticism and pre-conciliar Thomism, all too often referring to it dismissively as “neo-Thomism,” despite the fact that the latter term covers over an immense domain of differentiation within this period. (And of course, there were other Scholastic schools in addition to Thomism, which, however, did manage to crowd out the others.)

I fear that unless this divide is not healed, there is no path forward. My recent work with Dr. Jon Kirwan, titled The Thomistic Response to the Nouvelle Théologie (CUA Press, 2023), is intended to open a discussion about the possibility of viewing the scholasticism of the pre-Conciliar period as more than a reactionary posture, to see even traditional Thomism as a truly living perspective of theology. I will be the first to admit that such Scholasticism has a kind of “totalizing” attitude, understandably sounding as though it looked to subsume all things into a single Theological Science, wherein Thomist overlords would graciously dole out roles to various theologians, all as handmaidens in the thousand-year Thomist reign. But, chastened for many decades following upon the Council, and still far from representing the theological mainstream, such a Thomism today stands at a crossroads: shall it offer itself as a reactionary solution to the failures of post-Conciliar theology, or does it wish to live in dialogue with fellow Catholics as a living theological tradition that shares many concerns with the great themes of post-Conciliar theology that are dear to men such as Dr. Chapp? The latter is the only acceptable position for anyone who is ecclesiastically minded.

To this end, I offer a brief list of some themes related to the Council but having rich, organic connections to pre-Conciliar theology. My point is not that the “old” should replace the “new” but, rather, that if faithful Catholics were to take seriously people coming from different theological traditions—Thomists (even quite strict ones like myself) not presenting themselves as sole alternatives to the current malaise, and Communio theologians not presenting themselves as unqualified victors at the Council—we would find that contemporary theology would be all the richer. If I personally trumpet the riches of the Scholastic tradition, this is because I have professionally labored in uncovering these riches and wish to present them to the reading public for consideration.

Without being exhaustive, I propose the following examples of points of continuity.

Ecclesiology. The entire theology of the Mystical Body of Christ stands behind the continued developments in Lumen Gentium. Most are aware of the work of Fr. Émile Mersch, SJ. However, one cannot underrate the importance of Fr. Sebastian Tromp, SJ, who exercised great influence upon Pius XII’s encyclical Mystici Corporis. (Also, many other works were written on the theology of the Mystical Body of Christ during the first half of the century.) Moreover, there is the profound and massive multi-volume L’église du verbe incarné of Msgr. (later-Cardinal) Charles Journet. And, much is owed to the insights of certain scholastic thinkers like Fr. Louis Billot, SJ and others who ensured that the “Tractatus De Ecclesia” was appropriately moved to the context of the “Tractatus de Verbo Incarnato” and out of the “apologetic” concerns that overburdened it in many of the manuals of the era. (I hasten to add, however, that Billot is not my Thomistic cup of tea. But credit is due where it is due!)

After the Council, Journet masterfully incorporates the important theme of the Church’s sacramentality into his overall ecclesiological framework. (One finds rich echoes of this in the writings of Fr. Jean-Hervé Nicolas, OP who really could be cited in most of these sections below; however, he is a kind of figure overlapping the two eras, so I will not mention him again.)

Christocentrism. Often, Thomism is critiqued for being insufficiently Christocentric. However, as Fr. Dylan Schraeder has masterfully shown in his work on the Salmanticenses, there were important Thomist voices who took quite seriously the challenges raised by the Scotists in this regard. One can find a deep engagement of the Salmanticenses’s position in someone like Garrigou-Lagrange, as well as in Journet’s treatment of Christ’s capital grace. With great spiritual profundity, Bl. Columba Marmion, OSB’s spiritual works are arguably the lengthy articulation of a Christ-centered spirituality which is ultimately Thomistically grounded upon the profound Pauline theme of life in Christ.

The fontes revelationis. During the Council, Joseph Ratzinger rightly noted that the language of “fontes revelationis” was transferred from the earlier scholastic terminology of “fons scientiae”, that is, the sources of theological science.3 Many of the 19th and 20th century manuals would treat of the “fontes revelationis” in their treatises “De ecclesia,” which were placed at the start of theology, after treatises on revelation and before the treatise(s) on the One and Triune God. There would be two fontes: Scripture and Tradition. The concern, understandably and validly, was to show how the Church proposes the revealed message.

However, such discussions displaced the treatise that was known as “De locis theologicis”, concerned with the “places” (loci) from which truths were to be drawn for theological argumentation. This particular treatise was developed from a posthumous work by Melchior Cano, OP (1509–1560). Its most coherent Thomist treatment dates from the time of the Council on the pen of Fr. Emmanuel Doronzo, O.M.I. in his Theologia dogmatica. And the De locis is related to the topic of positive theology, the pre-conciliar developments of which are excellently presented in the doctoral dissertation by Br. Luke Celestine Salm, F.S.C. (1921–2009) defended in 1955 at The Catholic University of America. One might also consider consulting the late-19th-century De locis Fr. Jacques-Joachim Berthier, OP, the reforms of studies undertaken by Fr. Ambroise Gardeil, OP, and the German works on Cano by Lang and Hogenmüller. (Obviously, in relation to the details of Dei verbum, there are still open questions regarding, for example, the material sufficiency of Scripture. However, the overly-simplified treatment of the “two fontes” does not reflect the best of the Scholastic discussions of this period.)

Theological assent. Much of the crisis of the post-Conciliar period has been concerned with the Church’s authority, which was rejected so immensely throughout the world. The older articulation of the theological censures plays an important role in understanding the nature of the Church’s authority in various domains. Especially regarding the nature of her definitive authority in non-revealed matters, we still stand in need of a definitive resolution to the question concerning what used to be called “ecclesiastical faith” (assent given to definitive but non-De fide truths taught by the Church). Many Thomists rejected this notion as an accretion entering later Scholasticism in course of the anti-Jansenist controversies. However, I suspect that a careful revisiting of this topic can at least provide light for how to think of the various levels of assent and, hence, the Church’s authority in teaching.

Development of dogma. The last point about “ecclesiastical faith” is related to the topic of dogmatic development. On this topic, too many people dismiss “neo-scholastics” as being “fixists” without any useful theory of dogmatic development. However, first of all, there is the work of Fr. Marin-Sola, which many view as presenting the magisterial Thomistic position regarding dogmatic development. It is a rich and detailed treatment of the questions involved in this topic. His views were not accepted by all, including by Fr. Reginald Schultes, OP, who taught the history of dogma at the Angelicum in the 1910s and 1920s. Fr. Schultes was very deeply read in the history surrounding the notions of implicit and explicit faith, concerning which he wrote a detailed study in German. His objections to Fr. Marín-Sola appeal to important themes in the history of Western theology addressing the nature of dogmatic development, and in his Introductio ad historia dogmatum, Fr. Schultes in no way shows himself to be a “fixist” in matters of dogmatic history. He does, however, critique certain (though not all) aspects of Fr. Marín-Sola’s theory. The debates aroused during this period have a currency that is still illuminating today. (Full disclosure, I am in the midst of translating Fr. Schultes’s work. I am inclined to think that he does register important critiques of Fr. Marín-Sola.)

Moral and spiritual theology. Very often, Fr. Servais Pinckaers, OP has been credited with overcoming the casuistic legalism of the earlier moral-theological writings penned in the Latin Church. However, as I have shown elsewhere, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange registered nearly identical critiques a generation earlier, and his older confrere Fr. Ambroise Gardeil also lamented the effects of casuistic excess upon moral theology. (Others could be listed.) Also, there was a great flowering of ascetical and mystical theology during this period. Merely in the line of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, one might consider Fr. Juan Arintero, OP’s The Mystical Evolution in the Development and Vitality of the Church. Many other examples could be given. The Conciliar texts on the universal call to holiness are unthinkable without considering the immense riches of the pre-Conciliar discussions about the universal call to divinization and mysticism. Much, also, can be drawn from the posthumous writings of Fr. Michel Labourdette, OP, long-time professor of moral theology at the Dominican studium in Toulouse and peritus at Vatican II.

Politics. Even in matters political, there is much of interest. We find ourselves today revisiting all the questions concerning “integralism.” However, there are, in fact, various kinds of integralism, from what is found in authors like Frs. Billot and Garrigou-Lagrange (and they differ from each other too) to the much more mitigated forms that one finds in Maritain and Cardinal Journet. (The latter wrote a very large volume Exigences chrétiennes en politique.) Moreover, in addition to questions directly related to integralism, how can one fail to mention the critiques of liberalism that one finds in Maritain, not only in his early The Three Reformers but even later on in works such as The Twilight of Civilization. These works contain much, though in a robustly Thomistic language, that one can find in Fr. Henri de Lubac’s study of secular humanism. And, also, on political matters, I would be remiss if I did not mention the works of Yves Simon on authority and democratic governmental theory.

In conclusion, I should add that of course, there are many other theological approaches than the two that I have mentioned here. There are many kinds of Thomism; Communio is not a single, united “school”; and there are many kinds of faithful Catholic thought (in East and West) that cannot be subsumed under these labels. However, there is something emblematic involved in contrasting the great theologians of the Communio approach to the more scholastically-inflected authors I cited above. I wish to draw from the rhetorical strength gained by slightly simplified genealogies, all the while recognizing the limitations of these classifications.

In any event, it is in the interest of the Church that points of continuity between the pre-Conciliar and post-Conciliar Church be acknowledged and even embraced. I do not expect, nor even desire, universal agreement in philosophy and theology in the life of the Church. These domains are always those of debate and discussion. But, what is needed now, in the midst of head-spinning discontinuity, is an appreciation of the continuity of faithful Catholic thought in the 20th century, despite some of its major disagreements and alterations. I hope that in the essentials, Dr. Chapp and others like him can agree with this proposal.


1 Jacques Maritain, Peasant of the Garonne: An Old Layman Questions Himself About the Present Time, trans. Michael Cuddihy and Elizabeth Hughes (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1968), 5.

2 Gerald A. McCool, Nineteenth Century Scholasticism: The Search or a Unitary Method (New York: Fordham University Press, 1989), 15–16.

3 Jared Wicks, “Six texts by Prof. Joseph Ratzinger as peritus before and during Vatican Council II,” Gregorianium 89, no. 2 (2008): 233–311 (here, 270).

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About Dr. Matthew Minerd 1 Article
Dr. Matthew Minerd is a Ruthenian Catholic, husband, and father. He is a professor of philosophy and moral theology at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA, and an adjust professor at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. His academic work has appeared in the journals Nova et Vetera, The American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Saint Anselm Journal, Lex Naturalis, Downside Review, The Review of Metaphysics, and Maritain Studies, as well in volumes published by the American Maritain Association through the Catholic University of America Press. He has served as author, translator, and/or editor for volumes published by The Catholic University of America Press, Emmaus Academic, Cluny Media, and Ascension Press.


  1. A point of continuity: the Council Fathers failed to define “the modern world” which is never-the-less the central problem Vatican II claimed to be addressing.

    May I suggest there is a reason for this. The term “Modern World” is a euphemimism

    The necessarily “Pre-Modern World” was Christendom.

    “The Modern World” is a euphemism for the defacto “Masonic Empire” or “Anti-City”. It had just finished the butchering of 300 million baptised souls from 1789 to 1945.

    Vatican II – and the consequences for mankind and the Catholic Church – is only comprehensible when the euphemism is ditched?

  2. Sad to say but Vatican Council II is only relevant to academic theologians who write articles and books about it. The average Joe Pewsitter couldn’t tell you three salient teachings of the Council documents (if you doubt me, randomly pick any 10 Catholics leaving Mass on any Sunday and ask them to tell you even one teaching emanating from Vatican Council II).

    If you leave out the dissenters from the Society of Pius X crowd, among faithful Catholics there is no dissent against Vatican II and its documents (mainly because they’re ignorant of those teachings). What faithful Catholics are rejecting is a Church which is not safeguarding the Traditions and Magisterium of the Church and, instead, accommodating itself to a secular atheistic culture that is in itself in freefall because it has replaced God with Man.

    • Dear Deacon Edward Peitler,

      Spot on!

      Ever in the grace & mercy of King Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

    • Isn’t it then, Dear Deacon, that you yourself begin addressing this non-reception of Vatican II in your ministry? You can refresh and deepen what you’ve studied about it, apply it in your service to the Church, especially in your teaching, preaching, and assisting/serving at Mass . You need not tell your parishioners exact quotes and citations of the conciliar documents (though the extra effort will enable them to know more about the latest Council) but just expose them to relevant instances of the big picture message/teaching of Vatican II and guide them how to apply it in their everyday lives.

      • Spot on. And you’re correct that it’s encumbent upon ordained ministers to proclaim the fullness of Church teachings, including those of Vatican Council II. And this I have done to the best of my ability. And, yet, my point remains that 55 years later most Catholics are ignorant of its teachings.

        • With respect, Deacon, the ignorance of Vatican II teachings does not stop at the laity. In seminary in the late 1980s it was taught that the council was Superceded by the post-conciliar documents – which grouped together in two volumes were where the Church was. Otherwise put: Vatican II was a sledge hammer. Once completed, the demolition work was all that everyone was called to focus on. (Only 2 documents according the director of studies remained pertinent to read: Lumen Gentium/Guadium et Spes. It is safe to assume for entire generations, that was ALL they read of the most verbose council in 2000 years.

  3. “The contemporary debate over theological method is simply another phase in the dialectical movement of Catholic theology’s response…”

    Never has The Catholic Church permitted a phase in “the dialectical movement of Catholic theology’s response” to accommodate the reordering of beloved sons and daughters according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, in order to accommodate the justification of engaging in of demeaning sexual acts that deny Christ’s teaching on The Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony, which is Life-affirming and Life-sustaining, and can only be consummated between a man and woman, united in Marriage as husband and wife, without such anti Catholic movement being Anathema.

  4. From the article: “Often, Thomism is critiqued for being insufficiently Christocentric.”

    Reportedly Joseph Ratzinger was among those making this critique. The story goes that after a scholastic lecture that proved the existence of the ‘summum bonum’, the greatest good that is God – one of the greatest achievements of Catholic theology (thank you St. Thomas Aquinas!) – the young Ratzinger said “A summum bonum doesn’t need a mother”. No thinking person would think that there is anything wrong with Thomism, other than perhaps it is not enough.

  5. For approximately 99.99% of those who IDENTIFY as Catholic questioning the legitimacy of Vatican II is similar to an American questioning the legitimacy of the Constitution – way outside the pale. “Worse” would be to question the legitimacy of a person allegedly occupying the Holy See.

    But any logical and informed (e.g. orthodox) Catholic shouldn’t have a problem with either. He knows that humans are capable of evil (e.g. contrary to Rousseau), and that one of the worst evils is dishonesty. He also should know that during the height of the Arian heresy, many “Catholics” had become at least material heretics.

    Finally, he should know that the only way to disprove a logical argument is to contradict the alleged facts (e.g. prove false) of his opponent or prove his reasoning to be fallacious. FYI this standard ought to be the standard in courts, but it isn’t.

    There was a time in the Church when three people claimed to be the pope. That was an extremely important question to be resolved in the mind of every Catholic.

    “As a Ruthenian Catholic, I can list a host of conciliar fruits that have been immensely beneficial for the various Eastern Churches in union with Rome.”

    Why don’t you do so? Then it would be possible for possible rebuttal.

    “But, chastened for many decades following upon the Council, and still far from representing the theological mainstream, such a Thomism today stands at a crossroads: shall it offer itself as a reactionary solution to the failures of post-Conciliar theology, or does it wish to live in dialogue with fellow Catholics as a living theological tradition that shares many concerns with the great themes of post-Conciliar theology that are dear to men such as Dr. Chapp?”

    Dialogue with heresy (e.g. Protestants) is complicity. The Catholic Church is commanded to teach the truth, and guard the deposit of faith. It only takes one unorthodox belief to be a heretic.

    I am critical of Thomism. St. Thomas, while to be given the greatest deference, wasn’t infallible.

    I am not a theologian (But I did start my higher education on that path.), but one mistake of St. Thomas that I have come across is that clothes are unnatural. (My understanding is that in the Catholic past clothes were conceived of by moralists as the human equivalent to the functionality of animal skins.)

    The fruits of this error have been incalculable. One need only see the way that people are dressed today compared to the 1950s. I suspect that Satanists consciously promote immodesty.

    However, the revolution in clothing appears to have been the fruit of a Freemasonic and/or others “who-must-not-be-named” plot. ( Warning. There are immodest photos in this.) The Catholic Church was – and is – an obstacle to the complete victory of the conspiracy.

    As an FYI (and for the salvation of souls) there are a number of books on the topic of modesty. Two are “Immodesty: Satan’s Virtue,” and “Catholic Modesty: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and Why It’s Still Important.” (FYI modesty isn’t just for Catholics. I hate the terms “Catholic …”)

    The only likely authentically Catholic book on modesty was the original “Marylike Modesty Handbook of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate.” However, it appears to have made the error (which I, thus, correct) of failing to condemn pants. A version that isn’t undoubtedly Catholic, but is better than the original can be found in the book “My Life in Prayer Book.” There is one university library that has a number of print copies of the 1950s original(?).

    • I am afraid you misunderstand St. Thomas Aquinas’ use of the word ‘natural’. Adam and Eve were in a state of nature before the fall. If clothes were natural by this definition then they would have had them. It is that simple. I understand your concerns about the misuse of this language, but your complaint is no different than if you were to blame the author of Genesis for promoting nudity.

      • I am not read on the issue here. I think I can grasp what you are saying. But Genesis 2:25 does say they were naked. See also Gn. 3:7.

        It could mean that between them “they had nothing to hide”, however, after the fall they sewed fig leaves and made loincloths, at Gn. 3:7; and the Lord sewed leather garments for them, at Gn. 3:21.

        It seems to be more than mere figurative or representative, although it could include it.

        • Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM, long-time preacher of the papal household, gives a clue about fig leafs, in his “Virginity” (Alba House, 1996)…He explores how the original idolizing of our own “will” and “intelligence” now requires the mystery and foolishness of the cross—expressed by some in the formal vows of poverty, obedience and chastity…

          “[….] Since human beings have been unable to use their sexuality to go out of themselves and open up to the love of God and others, but have made sex an idol which they have even called by name (Astare, Venus…), it has pleased God to reveal in the Gospel the way of renunciation of the active exercise of sexuality, expressed in continence for the sake of the Kingdom and in perfect chastity [….]
          “Some Fathers of the Church, such as John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor, through that if Adam had not sinned there would have been no marriage, with the sexual procreation that is now its distinguishing feature, because in the way in which it is now exercised, human sexuality is the fruit of original sin. However, from a more biblical and less Platonic perspective it must be said that rather the reverse is true: that, had there been no sin there would have been no need to question marriage and sexuality and subject them to judgment.”

          A far cry, this, from Cardinal Hollerich, ringmaster of the Synod on Synodality, who would groom the entire human race into today’s anti-binary/homosexual zeitgeist… “I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching [on sexual morality] is no longer true [….] I think it’s time we make a fundamental revision of the doctrine”

          Hollerich, “walking together” with Cardinal Grech, the synodal super-facilitator who would “stretch the gray area” and who now maintains that an “aggregated, compiled and synthesized” (Vademecum) homogenization of a fallen and self-contradictory worldview is not, in itself, a distinct “agenda”…

          Unclarity is clarity.

          • Sorry Beaulieu, I often find Cantalamessa unhelpful. At Creation there was an original innocence with marriage. After the fall there was marriage but it was involved in sin, which was inextricable but for the Promise of Salvation. Now there is Christ in marriage Who brings to fulfillment what He purposed. My present local gets this all in a tumble when he says, “Marriage is the only sacrament from before Christ.” So you can imagine.

            I think that nakedness in Eden speaks to a significantly different order, very hard to imagine, as per Gn. 3:24 says; that God will eventually make understood notwithstanding that our life and destination is Jesus Christ NOT there. It’s kept hidden for good reason! and there is a way in which theology can spend too much effort on it.

        • There is a video by Dr. Brant Pitre that covers this. It is on YouTube titled “Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree and Cleanse the Temple of the Money Changers”:

          The section covering the cursing of the fig tree covers this subject. He links the fig tree to the fall of Adam. This section starts at the 9:15 minute mark. He quotes an extra-biblical source to show that it was Jewish tradition that the fig tree was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
          [Eve said:] At that very moment my eyes were opened, and I knew that I was naked of the righteousness with which I had been clothed… I looked for leaves… so that I might cover my shame, but I did not find (any) from the trees of Paradise… except (those) of the fig tree only. And I took its leaves and made for myself skirts; they were from the same plants of which I ate.” (Life of Adam and Eve 20:1, 4-5)
          Adam and Eve were no longer clothed in righteousness. To me the loin cloths represent the stain of Original Sin on the souls of Adam and Eve. Their bodies were supposed to the the temples of the Holy Spirit that were defiled by Original Sin. They had to veil their defiled temples that separated them from God and from each other.
          The video that I referenced is an excerpt from a larger video presentation “The Jewish Roots of Holy Week” by Dr. Pitre. This presentation is for sale on the Catholic Productions website. They have a free downloadable PDF outline of the presentation on the website.

  6. I would like to offer to Dr. Minerd (and to Mr. Chapp), and to all whose hearts are set on unity in Christ, that one way that I have found helpful, to avoid the pitfalls (and entrapments) about “the modern” vs whatever school of thinking may have dominated “before the modern,” is to place ourselves figuratively where The Word himself lives, outside of the mortal frame of time and history, and to dispense with talking on time-bound terms, “old” vs “new,” and use the appropriate framework of “transcendent” (eternal) vs “temporal” (passing).

    That way, we can avoid the fratricidal conflicts and circular firing squads.

    I am sure others have made this observation, but I found it not merely necessary, but wholesome, unifying, resourceful and reinforcing.

  7. Although Dr Minerd holds to a process like dialectic Thomism [It’s his identification of permanent first principles in the acquisition of truth that St Thomas Aquinas should be noted for] I fully agree with the damaging casuistic Thomas Minerd criticizes, and it’s refutation by Fr Pinckaers, Fr Garrigou Lagrange.
    Although he doesn’t give us Aquinas’ actual epistemological moral doctrine of the intuitive apprehension of the singular, the act to be done, the first principle. The on the ground conditions of the act are first deliberated, not the universal [casuistry]. The singular is then reflexively scrutinized in reference to the universal in what Gregory Nazianzen called Synderesis. This format is basic to moral a moral act and unchangeable. Unless someone comes up with a better diagram for moral apprehension the fact is no has.

  8. We are way past the point of contemporary dialectic and further discussion- we are in damage control mode and require the papacy to intervene now.

  9. Thank you, Chris. Sound advice.

    “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews, 13:8.

    • Excellent, dear ‘Tom in Florida’.

      King Jesus Christ who you & I & all true believers seek to relate to – in our hearts, in our prayers, in our New Testament immersion, in our Holy Spirit Anointing, in our celebrations of The Holy Eucharist – is the same Jesus Christ who called Peter & Andrew, James & John; the same Jesus Christ who healed the 10 lepers & countless others, taught true righteousness to the 12, delivered Mary Magdalene & many others from Satan’s grip, raised Lazarus & others from the dead. The same King Jesus Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, now reigning with The Father, who will judge every soul & spirit. The same Lord Jesus Christ who will be the Lamp of God’s Light in the eternal New Jerusalem. Come soon beloved LORD!

      Forever the same: unshakeable, unbreakable, unbeatable, God who is Love, God-With-Us.

      “It was then that, filled with joy by The Holy Spirit, He (Jesus) said: ‘I bless You Father, Lord of Heaven & Earth, for hiding these things from the learned & the clever & revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased You to do. Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father; & no one knows who The Son is except The Father, & who The Father is except The Son and those to whom The Son chooses to reveal Him.'” Luke 10:21-22

      “Do you see now how God has shown up the foolishness of human wisdom? If it was God’s wisdom that human wisdom should not know God, it was because God wanted to save those who have faith through the foolishness of the message that we preach.” 1 Corinthians 1:20b-21

      “Make sure that no one traps you & deprives you of your freedom by some secondhand, empty, rational philosophy based on the principles of this world instead of on Christ.” Colossians 2:8

      What dear Dr Matthew Minerd fondly believes to be ‘theology’ (that is knowledge of God) is actually a branch of philosophy, based on Aristotelian physicalism, much elaborated by the Mediaeval Schoolmen & their acolytes, up to the present day. Lovers of factuality & logic who investigate this ‘theological’ mega-structure with open eyes soon become aware that, without manifest personal knowledge of God in Jesus Christ, these so-called theologians (covert materialist philosophers) gyrate in endless circles, chasing their tails like puppies.

      Yet, in our local seminary the poor seminarians are subject to this form of atheism, & even worse: the faithless cogitations of Hegel, Heidegger, etc. All taught by the ACU’s crop of atheists, agnostics, & nominal Catholics, who faithfully attend their lodge meetings but rarely Holy Mass. Yet, when those pedagogically abused seminarians are faced with simple questions about the faith of The New Testament, they flunk.

      Catholics love to honor priests but it is misplaced when priests know not Christ.

      Apostolic RESTORATION is what is needed not revisionist progressivism.

      Always in the love of King Jesus Christ; blessings from marty

  10. Huge thanks to Dr. Minerd for putting together this article. The latter half is a bibliography that few of us outside of academia will have time or opportunity to delve into, but the first half summarizes a good case in which Ressourcement / Communio theologians and so-called “neo-Thomists” badly need a mutual cease-fire!

    Case in point. I enjoy Dr. Chapp’s interviews on his YT channel, but in one of them, Fr. Harrison Ayre glibly remarked that *neo-Thomists are merely failed Kantians*. And that claim was met with nothing more than a nod of the head; no question or challenge, no nuance as to what sector of 19th-21st century Thomism was being thus dismissed, no credit given to any non-Ressourcement thinker for being anything more than a self-deluded Modernist rube in traditionalist clothing.

    One hears a LOT of such strawman attacks on all Thomistic or neo-Scholastic thought today, both from the Communio and (successors to the) Concilium sides.

  11. Perhaps we are too much in the woods and need to get above the canopy and look down at the beautiful historical development of the Church throughout history. Then Vatican II will be blended, seamlessly into the whole and can be projected into the future. The Council must be seen as a natural,needed development. It is not a disruption. Perhaps we are not yet far enough from it to see it in it’s proper perspective. We can be sure,however, that the bark of Peter WILL stay afloat until Christ is once again on board. 🤗

  12. This proposal and ongoing project of Matthew Minerd to restore pre-conciliar Thomism (especially of its superhero Reginald Garrigou Lagrance) is an outstanding showcase of contemporary restorationism with regards to what came before Vatican II typical of the ideas and actions of many radtrads. It should be known however that the character of its being a straightjacket mold of doing theology was precisely what really moved the Council Fathers and periti (and the earlier Nouvelle Theologie) to get and grow away from it. Even Lagrance’s star student and doctoral mentee, Karol Wojtyla, camped with other bishops advised by periti the likes of Joseph Ratzinger, Yves Congar (himself inspired by Lagrance to join him in the Dominican Order), and Henri de Lubac to move beyond these medieval and modern Thomistic accretions to Church doctrine and theology by going back to the more ancient sources of the Church Fathers and Sacred Scripture in the ressourcement way. Even Wojtyla later as Pope John Paul II could not totally escape the sway of his training in this type of Thomism that is best described as hyper idealistic and which led him to hold almost mythical theologies-from-above on the ministerial priesthood (Holy Thursday Letters to Priests, Pastores Dabo Vobis, etc.) and of sexuality (Theology of the Body, Love and Responsibility, etc.). Future historians who are starting to emerge now are connecting this papal theological mindset to the papal blind spot that somehow disabled St. Pope John Paul II to decisively act on the exploding scandal and crisis of clergy homosexual predation sex abuse and subsequent bishops cover-up that exploded during his papacy.

  13. Dr. Chapp wrote,

    [start Chapp quote]Considering this totalizing challenge, Pope John XXIII, in calling the Council, did not task it with updating any particular doctrine in the light of specific theological challenges. Instead, he called on the Council to re-interrogate the entirety of the deposit of the faith and to propose that deposit in a new form, stripped of turgid baroque ecclesiastical language, and in a manner more Christological and evangelical. … Pursuing this agenda, the dominant conciliar theology, in my view, was the Christocentric, theological anthropology of the ressourcement school, exemplified in Henri de Lubac’s masterful book The Drama of Atheist Humanism, which found expression in the famous line in Gaudium et Spes 22: “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear.” [end Chapp quote]

    Dr. Minerd, in your response to Dr. Chapp’s article, you wrote about Christocentrism, “Often, Thomism is critiqued for being insufficiently Christocentric.” In light of Dr. Chapp’s quote from Gaudium et Spes, I would like to offer an example of the accuracy of your statement — perhaps even an example of the potential theological danger of Thomism in this study area.

    Any study involving the humanity of Jesus to discover the “mystery of man” would be incomplete without an accurate knowledge of the creation of our First Parents (Adam and Eve). Relative to this necessity, a single scientific event caused a torrent of heterodox interpretations about the creation of Adam and Eve. The aforementioned scientific research is nicknamed the “Out-of-Africa” research [–part-ii], which has led to the discovery of so-called Mitochondrial Eve.

    It has led to many Catholics trying to **make theology fit** a poorly designed study utterly devoid of a null hypothesis that should have included the Genesis account of creation. One of those theories, known as Thomistic Evolution (TE), was promoted by four Dominican priests, each educated in one particular scientific discipline (biology, theology, and/or philosophy). Fr. Nicanor Austriaco is the group’s biologist and seems to be the primary spokesman []. Unfortunately, the Foundations financing the dissemination of their faulty theology are hostile to Catholic Dogma []. In brief, TE believes that Adam and Eve were born from hominin (animal) parents. In other words, Jesus’ ancestors include animals.

    Based on my reading, the TE priests use Thomistic writings as the sole Magisterial Documents to support their theory. In the edition of the four-part synopsis of their hypothesis, they ignore any Scripture passages referencing Adam and Eve. Yet, they want to change the interpretation of Genesis — but without actually citing any Scripture relative to Adam and Eve, the subjects of the proposed changes. As a result, their hypothesis has spread among members of the Church, leading to great confusion regarding Christ’s humanity and, therefore, the “mystery of man.”

  14. Dr. Minerd writes, ” I do not expect, nor even desire, universal agreement in philosophy and theology in the life of the Church.” I must confess that I only have a rudimentary understanding of the problem put forward here. Still I found the article helpful in that it did help explain some terms which are now more clear and distinct to me. I only wonder if making the distinction between Catholic philosophy and Catholic theology would be helpful here. The “summum bonum” for example is an ethical term introduced in Roman philosophy which is improved through Catholic philosophy, the highest good being now a life lived in communion with God, which for St. Thomas would be a life in union with Christ, whom we can assume St. Thomas understood to have had a mother (a Blessed one at that!) The concept of a “supreme good” is certainly helpful in the hands of a competent catechist when presenting this notion to catechumens who are confused about what actually is a good life. So is the truth that a life with Christ (knowing and following Christ) is the supreme good – or a more theological way which involves a study of Sacred Scripture and the guidance of patristic teachings. Could not the problem of the pre and post council disagreement then be aided by an agreement of what is Catholic philosophy and what is Catholic theology and a clarification of their excellent yet distinct roles for knowledge and teaching?

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