In the face of “relativism and subjectivism”, the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Source: FSSPX News

On January 28, Benedict XVI received in audience the 350 members of the seven Pontifical Academies, the day after their 14th public meeting organized in Rome on the theme of The Theological Formation of the Priest. After evoking the prestigious past of these institutions, the pope drew the attention of their members to the absence “of ideal and moral points of reference” in contemporary society.

“As I have affirmed on several occasions, he declared, today’s culture strongly suffers at once from a vision dominated by relativism and subjectivism and from methods and attitudes at times superficial or even banal which detract from the seriousness of research and reflection and, consequently also the seriousness of dialog, of confrontation and of communication”.

“Faced with this lack of ideal and moral reference points which particularly penalize life in society and above all the formation of the younger generations”, the pope recommended “an ideal and practical proposition of values of truth, of strong foundations of life and hope, which can and must engage everyone, especially the young”. In this context, Benedict XVI judged it “urgent and necessary to recreate the essential conditions of a true capacity for depth in study and research so that we may dialog with reason and effectively debate diverse problems”. The more one dialogs with reason”, the Holy Father continued, “the better one can confront diverse positions in the perspective of a progress in favor of man and his integral formation”.

Benedict XVI then evoked Saint Thomas Aquinas, underscoring how “his thought and his testimony encourage a careful and focused attention on new questions, so as to answer them effectively. Thus being confident, as was he, in the capacities of reason, and in total fidelity to the intangible deposit of the faith, we must draw from the riches of Tradition, with a view to plumbing the depths of the truth of things. This is why it is necessary for the Pontifical Academies to be more than ever lively and vital, in order to perceive the expectations of society and the culture but also the needs of the Church. Thus, strengthened by the means and energies put at her disposition, the Church will be able to offer an important contribution to the elaboration of Christian humanism”.

The evocation of the Angelic Doctor by the pope was occasioned by the awarding of the prize of the Pontifical Academies to a lay theologian, John R. Mortensen, from the University of Cheyenne (United States), in recognition of his work on Saint Thomas Aquinas (Sources: APIC/IMedia/VIS – DICI no. 210, 02/20/10)

The Seven Pontifical Academies

The Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas (founded in 1879). It was created for the research, the defense and the diffusion of Thomistic doctrine.

The Pontifical Academy of Theology (1718). It is the “seat of  sacred science”. One of the principal roles of this academy is to highlight the “Truth revealed in the person of Christ” and to incorporate it into the daily life of the faithful and of the culture as a “source of renewal” as much in the order of faith as that of morals.

The Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate (1835). It is a “Circle of study and of piety in honor of the Virgin Mary”. It ensures, among other things, a pastoral service at the principal Marian sanctuaries: Lourdes ( France ), Fatima ( Portugal ), Czestochowa ( Poland ) and Loretto ( Italy ).

The International Marian Pontifical Academy (1946). It seeks to “promote scientific, speculative and historico-critical study” concerning the Virgin Mary and thus “facilitate Marian piety”. The Academy coordinates Marian studies undertaken in the various Mariological societies in the world. It endeavours to found new Marian societies or institutions in different countries, but today it also seeks to “promote an ecumenical dialog”.

The Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosos of the Pantheon (1542). The oldest of the academies seeks to favor “the study, the exercise and the perfection of Letters and the Fine Arts with a particular attention paid to literature of a Christian inspiration and to sacred art in all its expressions”. It hopes also to “promote the spiritual elevation of artists”, in close connection with the Pontifical Council of Culture.

The Pontifical Academy of Roman Archeology (1810). It seeks to “promote the study of the archeology and the history of ancient and medieval art”. It is concerned in a particular way with the study of the archeological and artistic monuments of the Holy See. It works “for the progress of the knowledge and the development of culture” through scientific communications, conferences, publications, competitions and all other forms of analysis or study.

The Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum (1879). It has as its role to “promote the cult of the holy martyrs, to augment and deepen the correct history of the witnesses of the faith” from the first centuries of Christianity.

The Council for the Coordination of the Pontifical Academies, created by John-Paul II in 1995, unites these seven institutions in order to "promote interdisciplinary research and to give a greater resonance to their respective works". The Pontifical Academies of Science, Social Science and Life are not part of this Council. (DICI no. 210, 02/20/10)