Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Christiana Sapientia; Article 81)

In A.D. 2011 the Congregation for Catholic Education, at the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, issued its Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy.  The terms of this Decree apply to schools and departments of theology and philosophy residing in Roman Catholic Universities which are selected by dioceses for the theological formation of presbyteral candidates, diaconal candidates, and lay ministers.

The Decree consists of two parts.  The first part is made up of the sixteen paragraphs constituting its new material.  The second part consists of those parts of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana (A.D. 1979, Pope John Paul II) addressing these same issues and which are, either, retained in whole or are modified in the current Decree.

The purpose of the articles which appear here is to present the parts of this document in sequential order and to offer additional commentary.  The articles here will begin with the presentation of the first paragraph of the first part of the Decree.  Subsequent articles will present/address the next part of the Decree.  Scrolling down through the articles will bring the reader, in reverse order, to all parts of the document already considered.

 

Decree, Part II: NORMS of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana

“The parts of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana which remain unchanged are quoted in italics.  Articles 72 a, 81, 82 and 83 are revised as following:

Art. 81 [The Curriculum of Studies in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy]

a) the first cycle, basics, in which for three years or six semesters an organic exposition of the various parts of philosophy is imparted, which includes treating the world, man, and God. It also includes the history of philosophy, together with an introduction into the method of scientific research;

b) the second cycle, the beginning of specialization, in which for two years or four semesters through special disciplines and seminars a more profound consideration is imparted in some sector of philosophy;

c) the third cycle, in which, for a period of at least three years, philosophical maturity is promoted, especially by means of writing a doctoral dissertation.”

 

Commentary:

To be properly prepared for the study of theology, leading to the performance of ministries such as a catechist or homilist or pastoral minister or liturgist, one requires a number of years of systematic study of philosophy in a credentialed Roman Catholic department or school of philosophy.  It is not necessary that the candidate for Roman Catholic ministry attain a graduate degree in philosophy.  It may not be necessary for this candidate to attain an undergraduate degree in philosophy, as long as the course of philosophical study indicated is carried out and attained.  This basic level of sound instruction in philosophy allows the possessor to be aware of the philosophical contents and ramifications found in her/his catechesis, homilies/sermons, pastoral counseling and guidance, and in the selected liturgical content found in music and ritual.  This basic level of philosophy also helps the possessor avoid egregious errors of logic, consistently utilize dialogical courtesy, and identify and abstain from the use of rhetoric(al manipulations) in her/his professional speech and writing.

Attaining a Roman Catholic master’s degree allows one the ability to guide a dialogical community through the reading and discussion of philosophical texts.  Similarly, the possession of the skills associated with attaining this degree allows one the ability to help an intended audience understand the philosophical elements of any text (for instance, a theological text) or of any discussion (for instance, a discussion of an issue of science or politics).  The holder of the master’s degree in philosophy will have obtained an ability to guide others in a dialogical investigation of philosophical issues.

Attaining a Roman Catholic doctoral degree allows one the ability to evaluate philosophical texts and issues, comment about the meaning and value of philosophical texts and issues, and to formulate philosophical theories of one’s own.  These skills are attained as a result of the additional years one spends studying philosophy, by being guided through the process of writing a doctoral thesis, and by additional exposure to the best teachers of philosophy.

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Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Christiana Sapientia; Article 72 a)

In A.D. 2011 the Congregation for Catholic Education, at the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, issued its Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy.  The terms of this Decree apply to schools and departments of theology and philosophy residing in Roman Catholic Universities which are selected by dioceses for the theological formation of presbyteral candidates, diaconal candidates, and lay ministers.

The Decree consists of two parts.  The first part is made up of the sixteen paragraphs constituting its new material.  The second part consists of those parts of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana (A.D. 1979, Pope John Paul II) addressing these same issues and which are, either, retained in whole or are modified in the current Decree.

The purpose of the articles which appear here is to present the parts of this document in sequential order and to offer additional commentary.  The articles here will begin with the presentation of the first paragraph of the first part of the Decree.  Subsequent articles will present/address the next part of the Decree.  Scrolling down through the articles will bring the reader, in reverse order, to all parts of the document already considered.

 

Decree, Part II: NORMS of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana

The parts of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana which remain unchanged are quoted in italics.  Articles 72 a, 81, 82 and 83 are revised as following:

Art. 72. a) [Curriculum of Studies in the Faculty of Theology]

The curriculum of studies of the Faculty of Sacred Theology comprises:

a) the first cycle, fundamentals, which lasts for five years or ten semesters, or else, when a previous two-year philosophy course is an entrance requirement, for three years.

The first two years must be primarily dedicated to a solid philosophical formation, which is necessary for undertaking correctly the study of theology. The Baccalaureate obtained in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy substitutes for first-cycle philosophy courses in Theology Faculties. A Baccalaureate in Philosophy obtained in a non-Ecclesiastical Faculty does not give grounds for dispensing a student completely from the first-cycle philosophy courses in Theology Faculties.

The theological disciplines must be taught in such a way that what is presented is an organic exposition of the whole of Catholic doctrine, together with an introduction to theological scientific methodology.

The cycle ends with the academic degree of Baccalaureate or some other suitable degree as the Statutes of the Faculty determine.

 

Commentary:

Handmaid:

Philosophy, as presented in Roman Catholic institutions, is called the “handmaid of theology”.  A knowledge of philosophy is necessary for the future homilist, catechist, and pastoral minister to be able to understand theology and apply it well.  Philosophy is to theology what fluency in French is to a thorough knowledge of French culture or what mathematics is to physics.  It is nearly impossible to attain proficiency in the modern science of physics without a comprehensive knowledge of a great deal of mathematics.

Systematic:

The theology received by the lay or ordained Roman Catholic homilist, catechist, pastoral minister is systematic.  A foundation of theological knowledge and skill is laid.  Upon this foundation are added other parts of theology which are supported by that foundation.  Each additional piece of theological knowledge and skill is related to the core principals upon which the entire edifice is built.  For this reason, the general graduate (Master’s level) degree in theology is sometimes referred to as a Master of Systematic Theology.

The manner in which theological academic content is presented and obtained and organized and used is based on philosophical methodologies of reasoning, as well as based on basic principles of philosophy which undergird all theological thought.  For example, one can know from catechetical instruction that God is One.  This level of understanding requires little knowledge of theology and even less of philosophy.  But to know that this divine oneness is reflected in, present in (analogically), and revealed in the oneness of existence itself which pervades all creation and is found within every existing created entity; that insight can only be gained by a knowledge of a philosophical metaphysics which speaks of Being/Existence/Is-ness as a subject of thought, the examination of which reveals to the investigator that all Being/Existence/Isness always has a transcendental property or attribute of unity (one-ness).

Non-Equivalency:

Instruction in Roman Catholic philosophy, especially instruction in that philosophy which is a preparation for Roman Catholic theology, is often different from philosophy taught in secular universities.  The purpose of philosophy in the Roman Catholic system is different; it is a preparation for theology which is a preparation for social, moral, and spiritual service.  Further, philosophy as it is presented in Roman Catholic schools and departments of philosophy is often systematic in the manner described above.

Philosophy, in a secular college or university setting, is sometimes presented as a group of topics which have little systematic relationship to each other or to some greater purpose such as is found in the theological focus of Roman Catholic philosophy.  In such settings, philosophy becomes a set of unrelated schools of thought which often provide little common ground upon which a dialogue can be built, with the result that there is little agreement.  Lacking the systematic focus of Roman Catholic philosophy, one could obtain an advanced and specialized knowledge of some aspects of philosophy which would not serve this person well as an introduction to the learning of Roman Catholic theology.

Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part 1, Paragraph 16)

In A.D. 2011 the Congregation for Catholic Education, at the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, issued its Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy.  The terms of this Decree apply to schools and departments of theology and philosophy residing in Roman Catholic Universities which are selected by dioceses for the theological formation of presbyteral candidates, diaconal candidates, and lay ministers.

The Decree consists of two parts.  The first part is made up of the sixteen paragraphs constituting its new material.  The second part consists of those parts of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana (A.D. 1979, Pope John Paul II) addressing these same issues and which are, either, retained in whole or are modified in the current Decree.

The purpose of the articles which appear here is to present the parts of this document in sequential order and to offer additional commentary.  The articles here will begin with the presentation of the first paragraph of the first part of the Decree.  Subsequent articles will present/address the next part of the Decree.  Scrolling down through the articles will bring the reader, in reverse order, to all parts of the document already considered.

 

Decree, Part 1, Paragraph 16:

“In consideration of all these various observations, the articles of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana and the respective Ordinationes of the Congregation for Catholic Education are being updated with regard to:

• the number of years for obtaining a Baccalaureate in Philosophy;

• the content of first-cycle studies in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy;

• the cursus studiorum in philosophy that forms an integral part of the first cycle in a Faculty of Theology or in a seminary, or is within a programme of university formation (q.v. supra, 15 b);

• the defining of some regulations concerning the teaching faculty;

• the affiliation of a three-year period in philosophy.”

 

Commentary:

Those who will be involved in pastoral ministry, catechesis, and homilizing/preaching, instruction in philosophy should receive instruction in the following.

A. Ethics/Morality

  1. Aristotelian Ethics; specifically, the distinctions between godlikeness, virtue, continence, incontinence, and viciousness, brutishness.
  2. Kantian Ethics; specifically, the Kantian reduction of ethics to Aristotelian continence.
  3. The difference between Kantian ethics and Christian (Roman Catholic) morality.
  4. The prevalence of Kantian ethics in modern culture and in current homilies, catechesis, and pastoral ministry.
  5. The similarities and dissimilarities of Kantian ethics to various soteriologies found in the New Testament.

B. Modernity

  1. The development of scientific technological modernity.
  2. A comparison of the radical skepticism of modernity with the pre-existing attitude of trust/faith found in medieval/middle age thought.
  3. A comparison of knowledge acquisition through methodologies based on an attitude of radical skepticism and faith/trust.
  4. A comparison of the the concept (meaning) of “truth” as found in skeptical modernity (i.e. facticity), in the koine Greek of the New Testament (i.e. ἀλἡθεια—unveiling), and in Old Testament Hebrew (אֱמֶת—loyalty).
  5. The manners in which (the assumption of) these notions of truth impact biblical exegesis/isogesis and hermeneutics.
  6. Exegetical research competency.

C. Metaphysics

  1. Scholastic/Thomistic metaphysics.
  2. Being (Existence—isness) and its transcendental properties.
  3. Hylomorphism.

D. Dialogue

  1. The nature of dialogue.
  2. The nature of rhetoric.
  3. The difference between dialogue and rhetoric.
  4. The use of dialogue in homiletic preparation, in catechetical instruction, and in pastoral direction.
  5. The use of rhetoric in administration activities.

E. Politics and Economics

  1. The basic forms of governments and their distinctions.
  2. The meaning and use of authority.
  3. The current notion of political economy.
  4. The original notion of economics as the affairs of the home/household.
  5. The transition from affairs (private) of the home to the (public) affairs of political economy.
  6. Capitalism and Marxism, consumerism and materialism.
  7. The meaning of the phrases constitutional republic and democratic liberalism.

F. Science

  1. Faith and reason, theology and science; their individual competencies, areas of overlap, complementarity.

G. Phenomenology.

H. Logic

  1. Categories, categorical reasoning.

I. Philosophical Anthropology.

  1. Person
  2. Personality.
  3. Soul.
  4. Mind.
  5. Brain/body.
  6. Awareness.
  7. Knowledge, reasoning, intellection.
  8. Will.
  9. Conscience (and synderesis) and conscience formation.
  10. Education.
  11. Rights