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Saint Thomas Aquinas, Common Doctor of the Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Note: Thanks to Sébastien L., who is responsible for almost all of this text. If some errors have slipped in, it's my fault.

The Church's Magisterium has more than a high opinion of Saint Thomas, She considers him as the Common Doctor, i.e., the Doctor of Doctors. He surpasses in fact by his knowledge, his genius and doctrine the other doctors of the Church. Here are a few quotes to convince you of this:

1) Urban V to the Toulouse Academy: "We want, and by the present, we enjoin you to follow the doctrine of the Blessed Thomas, as being truthful and Catholic, and to apply all your strength to it's development."

2) John XXII, in the Canonization Bull for Saint Thomas: "One learns more with Saint Thomas in one year, than with all the other saints together for a whole lifetime."

3) Innocent VI: "The Doctrine of Saint Thomas has, more than all others, Canon Law excepted, the advantage of the correctness of terms, of the appropriateness of the expressions, of the truth of the propositions, in such a way that those who possess it are never caught outside the path of truth, and that whoever has fought it has always been suspected of error."

4) Leo XIII; Aeterni Patris, #17: "Among the Scholastic Doctors, the chief and master of all towers Thomas Aquinas, who, as Cajetan observes, because "he most venerated the ancient doctors of the Church, in a certain way seems to have inherited the intellect of all." The doctrines of those illustrious men, like the scattered members of a body, Thomas collected together and cemented, distributed in wonderful order, and so increased with important additions that he is rightly and deservedly esteemed the special bulwark and glory of the Catholic faith. With his spirit at once humble and swift, his memory ready and tenacious, his life spotless throughout, a lover of truth for its own sake, richly endowed with human and divine science, like the sun he heated the world with the warmth of his virtues and filled it with the splendor of his teaching. Philosophy has no part which he did not touch finely at once and thoroughly; on the laws of reasoning, on God and incorporeal substances, on man and other sensible things, on human actions and their principles, he reasoned in such a manner that in him there is wanting neither a full array of questions, nor an apt disposal of the various parts, nor the best method of proceeding, nor soundness of principles or strength of argument, nor clearness and elegance of style, nor a facility for explaining what is abstruse."

5) Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, #45: "And let it be clearly understood above all things that the scholastic philosophy We prescribe is that which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us, and We, therefore, declare that all the ordinances of Our Predecessor on this subject continue fully in force, and, as far as may be necessary, We do decree anew, and confirm, and ordain that they be by all strictly observed. In seminaries where they may have been neglected let the Bishops impose them and require their observance, and let this apply also to the Superiors of religious institutions. Further let Professors remember that they cannot set St. Thomas aside, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave detriment."

6) The 24 Thomistic Theses: See for example the Wikipedia article 24 Thomistic Theses. [Denzinger 3601-3624]

7) Pius XI, Studiorum ducem, #11: "We consider that Thomas should be called not only the Angelic, but also the Common or Universal Doctor of the Church; for the Church has adopted his philosophy for her own, as innumerable documents of every kind attest."

8) Paul VI, Lumen Ecclesiae, #22: "The Church covers with Her authority the doctrine of Saint Thomas and uses it as a preferred instrument, in such a way that, as much and more than the other great doctors, it continues so to speak Her Magisterium."

9) John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, #57: "More than a century later, many of the insights of [Leo XIII's] Encyclical Letter have lost none of their interest from either a practical or pedagogical point of view - most particularly, his insistence upon the incomparable value of the philosophy of Saint Thomas."

Etc., etc...

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