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Claudio Basevi e-mail(Inicie sesión)

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Claudio Basevi e-mail(Inicie sesión)


The article attempts to reconstruct the cultural and intellectual itinerary that led to the writing of Aeterni Patris by means of the documents that Gioacchino Pecci had promulgated previously as bishop of Perugia, and later as Leo XIII during his first years as Pontiff. A brief description of the activity that Pius IX developed in favor of the return to the doctrine of Saint Thomas already reveals one thing: The philosophy ad mentem Thomae is a demand which does not come from an imposition of authority, rather from necessity due the danger unfurled in two opposing errors, fideism and rationalism, along with all their dreadful consequences. Gioacchino Pecci was perfectly aware of that which Pius IX had seen clearly: a restoration of the true philosophy was imposed as a premise for the consolidation of the church. At the same time, Pecci was able to obtain first hand information as regards the validity and speculative strenght of thomism, due to the company he sought and the circle of catholic intellectuals he was in contact with, and came to be something which Pope Mastai was not, a true in St. Thomas' thought. Pecci did, in fact, maintain close relations with Taparelli d'Azeglio, the brothers Sordi, Liberatore, the cardinal of Naples, Riario Sforza, Satolli, Zigliara, and other figures who played a role of primary importance during the new flourishing of thomism in Italy at the break of the nineteenth century.

Another influential factor in the formation of the future Leo XIII was his contact with catholic environmentes in Belgium. It was there where he learned that catholics, far from becoming isolated, should promote a bold intellectual oftensive in favor of true philosophy and true civilization in order to confront liberal society. The ideas of "civilization" and "Christian culture" constitute the nucleus from which all of Gioacchino Pecci's pastoral efforts developed as archbishop of Perugia. His pastoral letters demonstrating an acute sensitivity for contemporary problems together with several disciplinary measures, manifest the desire to form a clergy prepared to resolve and overcome the crises of that epoch. For the Perugian bishop, St. Thomas' thought is the surest way to form the clergy he dreamed of, to simultaneously assure the accordance between faith and reason through the deepest and richest doctrinal system and to correctly grasp the contents of the faith. The different magisterial acts performed throughout the commencement of his papacy, such as the allocutions, discourses and audiences that took place immediately before and after the publication of Aeterni Patris, point out the fact that Leo XIII was never a man of any given school, nor did he wish to impose St. Thomas' philosophy as the only true or legitimately christian philosophy. But, he saw in St. Thomas' philosophy the proper instrument with which to proceed towards a revival of catholic thought leading to a new christian-oriented society.

For this reason, in Aeterni Patris, there is a discernible twofold level of action. Firstly, concerning study, research and theological orientation, Leo XIII simply suggests a return to St. Thomas, with no attempt at impairing the freedom of christian scholars, as the surest medium for reaching a christian and therefore true philosophy. Next, in that which concerns the formation of the seminarians, the Pope fosters no qualms in demanding that all philosophy and theology be explained ad mentem Sancti Thomae without referring to the commentators, unless they are absolutely faithlul to their master, but to the very source, viz., The Angelical Doctor.

In conclusion, Aeterni Patris purports an expuisitely religious and apostolic end concerning the evangelization of society. However, the theory of double identity, often times used by those who share the ideas of the Common Doctor cannot be attributed to Leo XIII without careful reservation. Lastly, there remains the unique significance of the forceful and prized recommendation coming from the Roman Pontiff, "If we hope to resolve the problems put forth by the liberal society or if we are eager to avoid the dangers of socialism, it is necessary to return to the philosophy developed by the Fathers of the Church and the Scholastic Doctors whose most authoritative and momentous representative is none other than St. Thomas."


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Detalles del artículo

I. Estudios históricos