Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Ordinationes; Article 66 and conclusion)

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. 66. All Ecclesiastical academic institutions of theology and philosophy must conform to this Decree, beginning with the opening of the academic year 2012-2013.

“Quæ hoc decreto statuuntur, Summus Pontifex Benedictus XVI, in Audientia infrascripto Cardinali Præfecto recenter concessa, rata habuit et confirmavit, innovatos autem articulos 72, 81 et 83 Constitutionis Apostolicæ Sapientia christiana in forma specifica approbavit, contrariis quibuslibet non obstantibus, atque publici iuris fieri iussit.

“Datum Romæ, ex ædibus eiusdem Congregationis, in memoria sancti Thomæ Aquinatis, die XXVIII mensis Ianuarii, A. D. MMXI.

“Zenon Card. Grocholewski
“Præfectus

“Ioannes Ludovicus Brugues, O.P.
“a Secretis

 

Commentary:

“…the Catechism [of the Catholic Church, paragraph 689]…the fascinating statement is made that the Word of God (Jesus) is carried to the hearer by the Breath of God (the Holy Spirit).  It goes on to say that just as words need air to carry them to hearers’ ears, the Word needs the vehicle of the Breath to be heard.  Similarly, doctrines and dogmas (words) need to be communicated in a way the hearer can understand.  The hearer and not the content determines the method.  In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, “That which is perceived is perceived in the manner of the perceiver.” [Exploring the Catechism of the Catholic Church:  A Guide for Facilitating Adult Discussion and Prayer, Otto R. Piechowski; A.D. 1997 — nihil obstat and imprimatur and publication].

It is illuminating that this document on the reform of ecclesiastical studies in philosophy was dated January 28; the feast day of Saint Thomas Aquinas.  It was Saint Thomas who, in his Summa Theologiae[ca] stated that it was essential that the truths of faith be communicated to the intended audience in a manner in which they could receive it.  In part, this suggestion means that homilists and catechists and pastoral advisors must use the words with which their intended audience is familiar, use the commonly used images and ideas of the era as these images and ideas are understood by the intended audience, understand clearly the insights and confusions of the intended audiences, build upon the strengths of those common understandings, and challenge the inadequacies of those common “understandings”.

Thus, for example, the very early Church (c. A.D. 50 to 500) found it necessary to translate into the common Greek language of that era, the many teachings of the faith which were formulated in the Hebrew language for a Hebrew speaking audience within a semitic culture.  Because the world was becoming more Hellenistic and because the gospels were being carried into area in which the Hellenistic culture predominated, it was necessary for the powerful insights of the faith to be translated into the common Greek language of that Hellenistic world.

Later, at the end of the Medieval period (c. A.D. 1200), the writings of the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 to 322 B.C.) were rediscovered.  As these writings began to spread through western culture, Saint Thomas Aquinas found it useful to articulate the teachings of the faith by means of the ideas and images found in the writings of the moderate realism of Aristotle.  The powerful benefit Aquinas found in the writings of Aristotle was that they provided Thomas the intellectual tools of expression to more clearly and convincingly express and explain the content of Christian teaching.

Between Saint Thomas and today, modernity (c. A.D. 1250 to 1900) confused our peoples’ confidence that they could understand anything at all about material and/or spiritual realties.  Modernity created what is now called “the egocentric predicament” (An Introduction to Phenomenology, Robert Sokolowski).  Simply most people now feel that their awarenesses are of only the images and ideas within their own minds.  Many feel unsure about the connection between their mental ideas and images and the things of the world outside of their minds.  They suspect and hope that their ideas and images capture correctly the realities outside the mind to which they hope those ideas and images refer.  But they also feel, deeply, that there is no longer and that there can be no such certainty.  The political and social problem which this disconnect creates is that people no longer believe there are common material, social, political, religious, and spiritual realities about which they can agree; because, again, everyone’s individual mind is divorced from everything except the ideas and images within the cocoon of their own individual minds.

Fortunately in the A.D. 1800s a philosophical discipline known now as phenomenology arose.  This discipline analyzes human consciousness and awareness of the self and of the things/events exterior to the self and has, thereby, come to the insight that consciousness and awareness is always of things/events outside the human mind.  Ideas and images within the mind of the individual always relate to things outside the mind.  In other words, the connection between the individual and the outside world is real.  All persons have a connection to this same real world.  All of them are able to know the realities and essences and natures of things/events in that same outside world and to speak about them in meaningful and useful ways, with one another.

The Roman Catholic Church was quick to catch onto phenomenology and to begin to utilize its insights in terms of communicating the faith in homilies and catechesis and teachings and pastoral direction.  Among the many Roman Catholic intellectuals and leaders who espoused and espouse the values of phenomenology are Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, O.C.D., martyr and saint, A.D. 1891 to 1942 (Auschwitz), Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II, saint, whose doctorate in theology dealt with the pastoral uses of phenomenology), and Robert Sokolowski (Monsignor, professor of the School of Philosophy of The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.).

Advertisements

Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Ordinationes; Article 65)

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. 65. With the enactment of this Decree, articles 72, 81 and 83 of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana and articles 51, 52, 59, 60, 61 and 62 of the Ordinationes are abrogated.”

 

Commentary:

John Cardinal Newman once wrote that though it may be different in regards to the hereafter, in our worldly created realm “to live is to change and to be perfect is the change often.”

The English word perfect is a translation of the Greek word τέλος (pronounced tay-los) which means end or purpose or goal.  Specifically, this word translated as perfect, means the end or purpose or goal most appropriate to and most central to the essence and nature and conditions of the given thing or entity being considered.

Different things and entities have different states of perfection.  Thus, for example, goals of being human are to become aware of the freedom and creativity of which humans are capable and to actualize that freedom and creativity.  The end goal or purpose of an insentient life form which is subject to instincts or which is not capable of cognitive thought, cannot be freedom or creativity.  Some lesser ends or purposes, such as existence or reproduction or coerced toil, are all that are possible for such non-sentient creatures.

Distinction of perfection applies to training or education.  An animal, subject to instincts, must be trained to do things through various forms of conditioning.  Humans; however, can learn by means of thinking about the information gathered through their sense organs.  Human knowledge is consequent to the gathering of information through the sense organs; that is, human knowledge is a posteriori.  Beings which are pure spirits, such as angels, cannot attain knowledge by cognition upon data gathered through sense organs, because immaterial entities have no sense organs.  The knowledge possessed by spiritual beings must be immediate, materially unmediated; that is, a priori.

And finally, even among entities of the same sentient category, perfections may differ.  Pope Pius XII intended this idea when, in an address to newlyweds he stated that the goal of their life was not that type of “state of perfection” associated with the religious life.  Rather, due to the capabilities presented by marriage in regard to procreation and mutual sanctification of the couple, it was necessary for the married couple to seek “the perfection of their own state”.

 

A singular reason different created entities have different perfections is because of contingency.  An essential aspect of all created things and of all the things produced by those created things is the condition of change.  We are subject to change; all aspects of our existence are subject to change.  This is due to the materiality of our form as creatures.  Our bodies age and change.  Similarly, the products of our efforts deteriorate over time.  The institutions we create, social and political and educational, also change because the conditions to which they arrive are often different from the conditions in which they were originally envisaged and formed.

This applies to education, in general, and to philosophical formation, in particular.  For example, when the philosophy perennis originated, it was the case that most students of Roman Catholic philosophy were fluent in Latin.  Thus, and for example, when the writings on metaphysics by Saint Thomas Aquinas were read and studied, students were provided the primary source texts of his writings in the language in which they were composed by Saint Thomas, i.e. Latin.  These students were expected to read and study these texts in their original Latin.  To a degree this habit continued even within the last generation among students of Roman Catholic philosophy and metaphysics when they were introduced to the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas.  However; by this time, i.e. the mid twentieth century, a proficiency in Latin could no longer be assumed of students referred to philosophical studies.  As a result, vernacular translations of the thomistic texts often were placed along side of the original Latin texts.

Article 65 evidences this need to be aware of contingency and the need to modify expectations in light of the changing aptitudes and experience of students and in terms of the changing needs of society and culture and Church  in the modern worlds into which these students will be delivered and which they will serve.

Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Ordinationes; Article 62 bis)

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. 62 bis [Adaptation of the Norms of Affiliation and Philosophical Aggregation]

“§ 1. Given the reform of the three-year first cycle of ecclesiastical philosophical studies, which concludes with the Baccalaureate in philosophy, the philosophical affiliation must be in conformity with what has been decreed for the first cycle regarding the number of years and the curriculum (q.v. Ord., Art. 60, 1°). The number of full-time teachers in an affiliated Institute of philosophy must be at least five, with the required qualifications (q.v. Ord., Art. 61).

Ҥ 2. Given the reform of the two-year second cycle of ecclesiastical philosophical studies, which concludes with the Licentiate in philosophy, the philosophical aggregation must be in conformity with what has been decreed for the first and second cycles regarding the number of years and the curriculum (q.v. Sap. Chr., Art. 72 a and b; Ord., Art. 60). The number of full-time teachers in an aggregated Institute of philosophy must be at least six, with the required qualifications (q.v. Ord., Art. 61).

“[Adaptation of the Norms regarding the Philosophy Course as Part of the First Cycle of an Affiliated Institute of Theology]

“§ 3. Given the reform of the philosophy course as part of the first cycle of philosophy-theology studies, which concludes with the Baccalaureate in theology, the philosophy formation given in an affiliated Institute of theology must be in conformity with what has been decreed with regard to the curriculum (q.v. Ord., Art. 51, 1°). The number of full-time teachers of philosophy must be at least two.”

 

Commentary:

The School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., awards the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Licentiate, and Ph.D.  Since 1895, this School of Philosophy has awarded just over four hundred Ph.Ds.  Of the over four thousand one hundred colleges and universities in the United States which award academic degrees, only three have independent Schools of Philosophy.  The Catholic University is one of those three. The rest have departments of philosophy or philosophy sections which often are located in a College or School of Arts and Sciences.

The School of Philosophy at the Catholic University has two administrators, twenty two faculty members, three emeritus members, and six associates.  These serve the entire university community; its philosophy students, its theology students, its nursing students, et alia.  Seven of these thirty three are women.  Six or more are Roman Catholic clergy and/or members of religious communities.  Twenty nine of these thirty three persons hold terminal degrees (Ph.D) in philosophy.  These thirty three serve a university community of under seven thousand students.  This works out to roughly one philosophy instructor for every two hundred students (1/200).  The departments of philosophy at other Roman Catholic institutions such as Notre Dame University, Georgetown University, Bellarmine University, and Saint Thomas More College have a similar instructor to student ratio; 1/200 to 1/500.  Secular universities and colleges tend to have a higher instructor to student ratio; 1/500 to 1/3000.

Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Ordinationes; Article 62)

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. 62 [Some Special Norms for Ecclesiastical Faculties of Philosophy and Affiliated Institutes]

“In general, so that a student can be admitted to the second cycle in philosophy, it is necessary that he or she has obtained the Ecclesiastical Baccalaureate in philosophy.

“If a student has studied philosophy in a non-Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy at a Catholic University or in another Institute of Higher Studies, he or she can be admitted to the second cycle only after having demonstrated, by means of an appropriate examination, that his/her preparation is compatible with that which is set forth in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, and after having filled any gaps with respect to the years and curriculum foreseen for the first cycle as established in the present Ordinationes. The choice of courses must foster a synthesis of the subjects taught (q.v. Sap. Chr., Art. 81, a). At the end of these supplementary studies, the student will be admitted to the second cycle without receiving the Ecclesiastical Baccalaureate in philosophy.”

 

Commentary:

Article 62 refers to students, preparing for the diaconate or presbyterate and/or lay ministries, who received education in philosophy in secular university/college settings.  This article states it must not be assumed this secular philosophical formation is qualitatively equivalent to the philosophical instruction received in Roman Catholic institutions.  Before the student, who received a secular training in philosophy, is admitted to the path(s) leading to a degree in Roman Catholic philosophy or to formation in Roman Catholic theology as a preparation for official ministry; before his/her admittance to these paths s/he must prove the possession of qualitatively equivalent instruction or receive remedial formation in Roman Catholic philosophy.

Philosophy as it is taught in secular institutes of philosophy (schools, departments, universities, colleges) sometimes suffers from deficiencies in terms of what a person needs to progress on the path to diaconal, presbyteral, or professional lay ministry.

One deficiency is a lack of formation in those areas which are essential for understanding various teachings of the Church.  An example used earlier is that a competent understanding of the hypostatic union requires a background in scholastic metaphysics.  A broad, clear, concise understanding of scholastic metaphysics is sometimes absent from the formation in philosophy found in secular universities.

A second deficiency sometimes found in the philosophical training provided in secular settings is that the student does not receive a systematic presentation of philosophy constitutive to a full understanding of theology.  Philosophical formation, to avoid this deficiency, must be systematic in terms of a presentation of the progressive historical development of philosophical ideas.  Or to say it in another way, philosophy must be presented as that dialogue about ideas which leads to knowledge.  Sometimes the philosophical formation found in secular settings engages in a specialization which does not allow a dialogue among the various branches of philosophy, nor with similar branches of philosophy which should be considered along with exposure to a specific single branch of philosophy.  Without this concomitant consideration, the student might never be informed of important unresolved issues relevant to the branch of philosophy in which s/he is singularly invested.  For example, the student focused only on the philosophy of David Hume (A.D. 1711-1776) might never consider that the nature/essence of things and the relationships of events can be adequately explained by means other than by an external causality.  S/he might never know that an Aristotelian/scholastic presentation of essences/natures/events by means of an internal causation is superior to a merely external causal explanation of the same.  David Hume presented a repudiation of such external causal explanations.  Hume’s repudiation led many, who had little background in scholastic/Aristotelian philosophy, to assume that all forms of causal explanation (i.e external causality and internal causation) were disproven as effective means of explanation of essences/natures/events, whereas Hume’s thoughts were limited only to an analysis of external causation.  A consequence of a lack of this critical awareness of internal causal explanation is an inability to competently and convincingly argue for the sanctity of human life at all stages of life.  (Without a full understanding of Aristotelian/scholastic internal causation, life can only be explained as a material reduction.  A material reductionistic understanding reduces life to nothing more than an arrangement of chemicals and physical energies.  Human life as defined in this material reduced way is no longer sacred because human life is seen as being only material with no spiritual aspect; i.e., with no soul.)

A third deficiency of philosophical instruction in secular settings involves the impact upon the student’s understanding of important ideas, by the vague and incomplete presentation of many other slightly related ideas.  An example of the later involves a broad vague introduction to themes in psychology, neurology, and anthropology.  Sometimes assumptions are presented to students that the only thing(s) of which a person can be aware are the ideas/images within his/her own mind and that the relationship of these images and ideas with things in the world outside the mind cannot be determined.  Coming to believe these vague ideas have merit, the student may begin to question his/her ability to serve other persons because we cannot possibly know persons other than ourselves well enough to know what their needs are.

Without a correct understanding of philosophical ideas relevant to later theological formation and without a dialogical awareness of the interplay of the history of philosophical ideas, the homilist or catechist or pastoral advisor will be limited in his/her ability to minister effectively. When addressing important issues such as “why do we believe Jesus is fully human and divine?” and “when does human life begin and when does it become sacred?” and “why should we act on the assumption we can truly help others?”, lacking adequate training in philosophy the spiritual advisor or catechist or homilist will find themselves talking in circles in order to find a conclusion.

When homilies and catechesis and pastoral direction are backed up by soundly understood and clearly stated philosophy, the members of the intended audience to whom these words are addressed will appear interested.  The pastoral minister and the catechist and the homilist will hear frequently of members of the intended audience discussing at home and at work, the content of the homily or catechesis or direction.  More will attend and will attend to with greater attention to the content of future homilies, catechesis, and direction.

Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Ordinationes; Article 61)

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.”

 

Commentary:

“… 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.

Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Ordinationes; Article 60)

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. 60 [Curriculum of Studies in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy]

“The disciplines taught in various cycles are:

“1° In the first cycle:

a) The obligatory basic subjects:

– A general introduction which aims, in particular, at showing the sapiential dimension of philosophy.

– The main philosophical disciplines: 1) metaphysics (understood as philosophy of being and natural theology), 2) philosophy of nature, 3) philosophy of man, 4) moral and political philosophy, 5) logic and philosophy of knowledge. Given the particular importance of metaphysics, an adequate number of credits must be accorded to this discipline.

– The history of philosophy: ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary. Careful examination of the various currents of thought are to be accompanied, when possible, by the reading of texts of the more important authors. Depending on requirements, a study of local philosophies is to be added.

The obligatory basic subjects must constitute at least 60% and must not exceed 70% of the number of credits of the first cycle.

b) The supplementary obligatory subjects:

– A study of the relationship between reason and Christian faith – that is, between philosophy and theology – from a systematic and historical point of view, paying attention to safeguarding both the autonomy of each field as well as their interconnection. [Footnote 43]

– Latin, so as to be able to understand the philosophical works (especially of Christian authors) written in that language. The student’s knowledge of Latin must be verified within the first two years.

– A modern language other than one’s mother-tongue, the knowledge of which must be verified before the end of the third year.

– An introduction to the methodology of study and of scientific research, which serves also as an introduction to the use of research tools and the practice of argumentative discourse.

c) The optional additional subjects:

– Principles of literature and the Arts;

– Principles of some of the human sciences or some of the natural sciences (for example, psychology, sociology, history, biology or physics). In a particular way, care must be taken to establish a connection between the sciences and philosophy.

– Some other optional philosophical disciplines: for example, philosophy of science, philosophy of culture, philosophy of arts, philosophy of technology, philosophy of language, philosophy of law or philosophy of religion.

“2° In the second cycle:

– the special disciplines established in various sections, according to the diverse specializations offered, along with practical exercises and seminars, including written Licentiate thesis.

– Beginners or advanced ancient Greek, or a second modern language other than that required for the first cycle or an advanced study of the same.

3° In the third cycle:

The Statutes are to determine if special disciplines are to be taught and which ones, together with the practical exercises and seminars. It is necessary to acquire a knowledge of another language, or to acquire an advanced knowledge of one of the languages previously studied.

“Footnote 43] Cf. Fides et ratio, n. 75, which rejects “the theory of so-called ‘separate’ philosophy” that “claims for philosophy not only a valid autonomy, but a self-sufficiency of thought,” re-affirming also a sort of independence: “philosophy’s valid aspiration to be an autonomous enterprise, obeying its own rules and employing the powers of reason alone”.”

 

Commentary:

“1° In the first cycle:  a)…Careful examination of the various currents of thought are to be accompanied, when possible, by the reading of texts of the more important authors…”

A primary source text is the first written articulation of an idea of enduring importance.  A primary source text can also be a later text which appropriates the first written articulation of an idea of enduring importance and uses that idea in a new context; thus, generating a new idea of enduring importance.  An example of a primary source text in the first sense would be the first creation story in Genesis (1:1 through 2:4a).  An example of a primary source text in the second sense would be the appropriation of this six day and night creation story by René Descartes (A.D. 1596 to 1650) and his use of the structure of this creation story in the framework and content of his six part Discourse on Method.  The first introduces the idea of all natural beings and entities as the creation of God.  The second uses the idea contained in the first as a means to propose and support a modern technological agenda by speaking of man as “the master and possessor of nature”.

The study and comprehension of philosophy is aided decidedly by a systematic and structured reading aloud of primary source texts in a group of persons committed to dialogue.  These readings are then followed by a dialogue about the content of the primary source texts which have been read.

Dialogue is the use of disciplined speech for the purpose of displaying truth.  Dialogue differs from rhetoric, which also utilizes disciplined speech, but for the purpose of persuasion.  The rhetorician uses techniques of speech to encourage or coerce others to agree with his or her proposed idea.  The person using dialogue uses disciplined speech to clearly display the idea s/he wishes to display and then leaves it to the other participants to decide to accept or not accept the thought displayed.  For example, a rhetorician might repeat his idea a number of times, hoping that the repetition might lead others to agreement.  The dialectician attempts to state her idea clearly the first time and leave it at that.

Dialogue differs also from mere talk, conversation, chewing the fat, shooting the breeze.  Dialogue eschews the use of disciplined speech for the purposes of entertainment, self-esteem, or other forms of aggrandizement.

An interesting result of the reading of primary source texts and subsequent dialogue about the content of those primary source texts is that the participants to the dialogue often come to understand the essence of the meaning the original authors sought to convey.  Further, this result often occurs with texts which are considered to be significantly difficult to understand.  The combination of reading the original text aloud in a structured systematic manner, and the use of disciplined speech by group participants to share the insights they have about the contents of those texts often produces this beneficial result.

Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Ordinationes; Article 59)

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. 59 [Aims of an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy]

“§ 1. The research and teaching of philosophy in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy must be rooted in the “philosophical patrimony which is perennially valid”, [Footnote 42] which has developed throughout the history, with special attention being given to the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas. At the same time, the philosophy taught in an Ecclesiastical Faculty must be open to the contributions that more recent research has provided and continues to offer. One must emphasize the sapiential and metaphysical dimensions of philosophy.

Ҥ 2. In the first cycle, philosophy is to be taught in such a way that the students in the basic cycle will come to a solid and coherent synthesis of doctrine, will learn to examine and judge the different systems of philosophy, and will also gradually become accustomed to personal philosophical reflection. If students of the first cycle of theological studies attend first-cycle courses in the Faculty of Philosophy, care must be taken to safeguard the specific nature of the content and purpose of each educational track. At the end of the philosophical formation, an academic degree in philosophy is not awarded (q.v. Sap. Chr., Art. 72 a), but the students can ask for a certificate attesting to the courses they have attended and the credits they have obtained.

Ҥ 3. The formation acquired in the first cycle can be completed in the successive cycle, where one begins to specialize via greater concentration on one area of philosophy and greater dedication of the student to philosophical reflection.

Ҥ 4. It is appropriate to distinguish clearly between, on the one hand, studies in Ecclesiastical Faculties of Philosophy and, on the other hand, the philosophical courses that form an integral part of the studies in a Faculty of Theology or in a seminary. In an institution which has, at the same time, both an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy and a Faculty of Theology, when the philosophy courses that are part of the five-year first-cycle of theology are taken at the Faculty of Philosophy, the authority who makes decisions regarding the programme is the dean of the Faculty of Theology, who will make those decisions in conformity with the law in force, and while favouring close collaboration with the Faculty of Philosophy.

“ [Footnote 42] Cf. CIC, can. 251 and Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decr. Optatam totius, n. 15.”

 

Commentary:

“§ 1. The…philosophy taught in an Ecclesiastical Faculty must be open to the contributions that more recent research has provided and continues to offer.”

Phenomenology is the name for a branch of philosophy which provides  intellectual tools for disclosing and understanding the essence of a thing or event which one is attempting to understand.  Names associated with this include its putative founder, Edmund Husserl (A.D. 1859 to 1938), Franz Brentano (A.D. 1838 to 1917), Max Scheler (A.D. 1874 to 1928), et alii.  More recent adherents include Edith Stein (Saint Sister Teresa of the Cross) (A.D. 1891 to 1942) and Karol Woytla (Saint Pope John Paul II) (A.D. 1920 to 2005).

“§ 2. In the first cycle, philosophy is to be taught in such a way that the students…will also gradually become accustomed to personal philosophical reflection.

Classical philosophy reaches its pinnacle with Socrates, his student Plato, and Plato’s student Aristotle.  Socrates/Plato emphasized the necessary relationship between philosophy used as a tool of reasoning and philosophy as a necessary attitude and practice for self improvement; “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

“§ 2. In the first cycle, philosophy is to be taught in such a way that the students in the basic cycle will come to a solid and coherent synthesis of doctrine…”

Roman Catholic philosophy, and especially Roman Catholic metaphysics is essential for understanding basic Roman Catholic doctrines; as for example the hypostatic union of Jesus the Christ.  So that this doctrine of the two natures, human and divine, of Jesus can be taught to students so that they understand and accept this doctrine, it is necessary for metaphysics to be used to explain and support the terms and principles upon which this doctrine is based.  If metaphysics is not used to explain and support this doctrine, the teaching of this doctrine becomes little more than a nominalistic stamp collecting; that is, knowing the name but not the meaning.  Students and catechumens tend to  forget and rarely are motivated to belief by being taught to memorize doctrines without being given the rational support for those doctrines.

“§ 2. In the first cycle, philosophy is to be taught in such a way that the students in the basic cycle will…learn to examine and judge the different systems of philosophy…”

An important modern example of this discernment involves Christian morality and Kantian ethics (Immanuel Kant, A.D. 1724 to 1804).  Christian morality focuses on love expressed in acts of charity and on the development of a virtuous character.  Kantian ethics redefines virtue as accomplishment.  This Kantian ethic is widespread throughout western culture and the Church.  This Kantian ethic leads to an attitude of ceaseless frenetic activity; a type of workaholism.  When appropriated by homilists and catechists and pastoral ministers, the form of Kantian ethics is often a redefinition of soteriology in a narrow sense that the means by which one attains salvation is through doing meritorious acts.  Christian morality states unequivocally that the path to salvation lies through accepting the salvation obtained for us by Jesus’ paschal mystery.  This acceptance then, in turn and secondarily, leads this believing person to the doing of good deeds as the means to express the joy s/he feels at knowing s/he is saved.