32 – Nothing of yearning for a monolithic body of doctrine – the precepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the people of God ‘are very few’

‘A text taken out of context is often a pretext’ the saying goes…As we know, an author’s words may easily be manipulated when only partially quoted. It’s possible, in such cases, to give it a totally new meaning or even a meaning opposite to the original.

In this sense, the citations of Saint Thomas Aquinas in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium have drawn our attention. So it’s a good idea to examine each one of the affirmations of Aquinas in their original context, with the objective of analyzing the fidelity and concordance of this application to his line of thought.

What pretext did Francis have in using the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas?

Francis

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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

ContentsAuthors
 I – Should Catholic doctrine be monolithic or may it be varied in its lines of human thought?
II – Were Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo contrary to the precepts added to the New Law by the Church?
III – Is a reform of the Church that seeks to reduce its precepts appropriate?

I – Should Catholic doctrine be monolithic or may it be varied in its lines of human thought?

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Context of the first citation of Aquinas: His words refer strictly to the ontological field, not to the logical, ideological, philosophical or theological fields
The reason why the ontological meaning of Saint Thomas’ words should not be applied to the theological field - even through analogy – is due to the fact that the criteria of sacred doctrine is not human but divine
Since theology - which constitutes the greatest wisdom - may not irrationally contain a fusion of truth and error, different lines of thought may not be reconciled
Contrary to certain relativistic tendencies of our days, Saint Thomas firmly countered and rejected any line of thought not inspired by Revelation or faithful to it
To seek reconciliation between different lines of thought, which are necessarily opposed to each other in at least one aspect - so that they are in fact diverse - is to impede the ability of grasping the truth

II – Were Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo contrary to the precepts added to the New Law by the Church?

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The context of the second citation of Aquinas: It evolves as a comparison between the New and Old Law; it’s not a question of a vindication of greater rights or fewer duties. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains that the New Law is lighter than the Old because it added few precepts to the natural law
The intention of Aquinas in using the doctrine of Augustine is to point out the essence of the New Law, which consists principally in grace and secondarily in the ordered precepts to receive and make use of them
Neither Augustine of Hippo nor Thomas Aquinas are diminishing the importance of the precepts of the New Law; they are merely seeking to demonstrate that these are not its essence, since they do not have the capacity to justify man
The fact that the essence of the New Law is grace - through which man is justified - does not mean that certain exterior acts should not be prohibited for the good of the faithful
Consequently, not only are the ecclesiastical precepts added to the New Law appropriate, but it is also the duty of the prelates to require that these laws - referring to the spiritual order - be observed

III – Is a reform of the Church that seeks to reduce its precepts appropriate?

Code of Canon Law

The Code of Canon Law may be modified and reformed, but its higher purpose should not be forgotten

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The current commandments of the Church already request the bare minimum of the faithful with respect to the practice of virtue and thus attainment of eternal life; it therefore seems untimely to reduce them further

John Paul II

Neither should the necessity and duty of practicing all of the immutable commandments of the Law of God in their entirety be mitigated in the eyes of the faithful
Rather than reducing the number of precepts, it is necessary to have a correct visualization of their worth to better understand that they serve to make us free in the service of God and free from the slavery of sin

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