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 APPLICATION [Ordinationes; Articles 51, 52, 52 bis, 59, 60, 61, 62, 62 bis, 65. 66]
“Art. 61 [Teachers in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy]
“a) The faculty must employ, on a full-time basis, at least seven duly qualified teachers, who thus can ensure the teaching of each of the obligatory basic subjects (q.v. Ord., Art. 60, 1°; Art. 45, § 1, b). [//] In particular, the first cycle must have at least five full-time teachers allotted as follows: one in metaphysics, one in philosophy of nature, one in philosophy of man, one in moral philosophy and politics, one in logic and philosophy of knowledge. [//] For the other obligatory and optional subjects, the Faculty can ask the help of other teachers.
“b) A teacher is qualified to teach in an Ecclesiastical institution if he or she has obtained the necessary academic degrees from an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy (q.v. Ord., Art. 17).
“c) If the teacher possess neither a canonical Doctorate nor a canonical Licentiate, he or she may be appointed as full-time teacher only on the condition that his/her philosophical training is consistent with the content and method that is set forth in an Ecclesiastical Faculty. In evaluating candidates for teaching positions in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, the following must be considered: the necessary expertise in their assigned subject; an appropriate openness to the whole of knowledge; adherence, in their publications and teaching, to the truth taught by the faith; an adequately deepened knowledge of the harmonious relationship between faith and reason.
“d) It is necessary to ensure always that, in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, the majority of full-time teachers holds an ecclesiastical Doctorate in philosophy, or else an ecclesiastical Licentiate in a sacred science together with a Doctorate in philosophy obtained in a non-Ecclesiastical University.”
“… In evaluating candidates for teaching positions in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, the following must be considered: the necessary expertise in their assigned subject; an appropriate openness to the whole of knowledge; adherence, in their publications and teaching, to the truth taught by the faith; an adequately deepened knowledge of the harmonious relationship between faith and reason.”
Saint Thomas Aquinas (A.D. 1225 to 1274) makes the following statement in his Commentary on the “De Trinitate” of Boethius, Question 2, Article 3 (Translation from the Latin provided by Msgr. John Wippel of The Catholic University of America):
“It must be said that the gifts of grace are added to nature in such fashion that they do not destroy it but rather perfect it. Wherefore, the light of faith, which is given to us as a grace, does not destroy the light of natural reason, which is given to us by God. And although the natural light of the human mind is insufficient to manifest those things which are manifested though faith, nonetheless it is impossible for those things which are given to us by God through faith to be contrary to those which are instilled in us by nature. For one or the other would have to be false; and since both come to us from God, God himself would be the author of falsity, which is impossible….But just as sacred teaching is based on the light of faith, so is philosophy based on the natural light of reason; therefore it is impossible for those things which belong to philosophy to be contrary to those which are of faith, although they fall short of them….”
Faith and reason, if properly formed and utilized and understood, cannot contradict each other since God is the author (creator) of both and God cannot contradict Himself. God cannot contradict Himself because God’s essence is existence/Being/Is-ness. One of the necessary characteristics of Being as Being is unity (one-ness). To be self-contradictory indicates (at least) a duality of essence. With God such a duality cannot be since God’s essence entails a perfect unity.
Disciplines central to the formation and expression of faith are religion and theology. A discipline central to the formation and expression of reason is science. What is true of the relationship of faith and reason is also true of the relationship between religion (including its tool of theology) and science. If both religion and science are properly formed and utilized and understood, they cannot contradict each other. The conclusions of each must be consistent with, or at the very least not antithetical to, the conclusions of the other.
Should faith and reason (religion and science) be found to be in disagreement over an issue then one or the other, or possibly both, must be in error.