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.

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Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Ordinationes; Article 52 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. 52 bis [Qualifications of the Professors of Philosophy in a Faculty of Theology]

“The number of professors who teach philosophy must be at least three, who have the required degrees in philosophy (q.v. Ord., Art. 17 e 61, b). They must be dedicated full-time to the teaching of philosophy and to research in that field.”

 

Commentary:

Those who teach philosophy to future presbyteral, diaconal, and lay ministers in the Church must be proficient in philosophy.  To this end, these professors of philosophical instruction must have the skill set constitutive to excellent philosophical instruction.  This skill set includes those post-graduate degrees in philosophy aimed at teaching philosophy and doing philosophical research, and experience and aptitude in providing philosophical instruction.

What is to be avoided is the ministerial formation equivalent of the high school hiring of a coach who also possesses the minimum skill and credentialing to teach a subject area or vice-versa.  Those who teach philosophy must understand clearly what philosophy is, must have experience in having received excellent philosophical instruction, must have an aptitude for teaching philosophy, must enjoy teaching philosophy, and must be enabled to focus on teaching philosophy in the given institution of ministerial formation which employs them.

Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Ordinationes; Article 52)

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. 52

“In the five-year basic cycle, diligent care must be exercised that all the disciplines are taught with order, fullness, and with correct method, so that the student receives harmoniously and effectively a solid, organic, and complete basic instruction in theology, which will enable him either to go on to the next cycle’s higher studies or to exercise some office in the Church.”

 

Commentary:

A systematic, complete, and correct instruction in theology includes the following elements.

Ecclesiology; the study of the history of the Church.

Scriptural Theology; the study of the New and Old Testaments.

Canon Law; the study of the law, customs, mores, rules, norms of the Church.

Soteriology; the study of the theology of salvation.  This includes the study of what is found on the topic of salvation within the writings of the sacred scriptures, the study of what is found on this topic within the official writings of the Church, and speculative thought about the topics how we are saved by the paschal mystery of Jesus and how we participate in that salvation already obtained for us.

Parousialogy and Eschatology; the study of the second coming of Christ and the study of the end times of human existence within the created universe; as these topics are presented and dealt with within sacred scriptures, official Church teaching, and speculative theology.

Pastoral theology; the study of the theological framework supporting and directing pastoral activity.  This may include or may serve as a preparation for practical experiential training in pastoral ministry.

Liturgical theology; the study of the worship of the Church with a primary focus on its rituals and worship activities.  This includes a special focus on the wording and meaning of the texts used in worship and rituals.  This also includes a study of the various music forms utilized by the Church.

Sacramental theology; a special focus on the scriptural basis of the sacramental rituals of the Church, on the official teachings of the Church, and on the use of speculative theology to understand and present the meaning of the sacraments.

Homiletics; instruction and practice in preparing and presenting homilies.  Sometimes this activity is referred to as preaching.  When referred to as preaching, it often happens that the activity is referred to as sermons.  However, there is an important difference between a sermon and a homily.  Simply put, the preacher of the sermon selects a worship text and then creates a sermon around the content of that chosen text.  The homilist is presented and required to focus his homilizing on the content of the texts provided him by the official lectionary of reading of the Church for the given day on which he gives his homily.  The homily also is to apply the teaching of the biblical readings used in the ritual to the lived lives of those who are the hearers of the homily.

Christology; the study of the manner in which Jesus the Christ is presented in the Sacred Scriptures and in the official writings of the Church, and how these presentations are to be understood.  This study also includes the use of speculative theology to explore ramifications and deeper pastoral insights which are present but not yet seen in these writings.

Pneumatology; the study of the reality and meaning of the Holy Spirit.  To this end, texts about the Holy Spirit are obtained from both Sacred Scripture and the official teachings of the Church.

Moral Theology; the study of Christian morality.

Theological anthropology; the study of the reality of human kind as presented within the writings of the Sacred Scriptures and the official teachings of the Church.  Speculative theology is used to explore the meaning of the human person as presented in these teachings and to discover and reveal deeper aspects of human nature and human society which are present in those writings but which not yet be fully understood or apparent.

Prolegomena; a study of the first principles upon which a sound theology is built.  This prolegomena includes the methods of the various theologies, the use of logic and dialogue, categorization and phenomenological perception.  This also includes basic principles about the nature of theological subjects.

Theology (proper); an introduction to the basic vocabulary of theology and the meaning of the terms which are used.

There may also be specific focus or even specific courses on Mariology (the study of Mary), Prayer, Angelology (the study of angels), catechetics (instruction as to how to proper teach others about the faith), parish management, natural theology (what can be known about God from the study of created reality), reformation theology (study of the history of the development of the non-Catholic Christian communities and a study of their doctrines), ecumenical theology (study of the history and current efforts to re-unify Christian faith communities).

Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies in Philosophy (Part II, Christiana Sapientia; Article 83)

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. 83 [Diplomas Required of the Students]

“To enroll in the first cycle of a Faculty of Philosophy, the student must have done the previous studies called for in accordance with Article 32 of the Constitution.

If a student, who has successfully completed the regular philosophy courses in the first cycle of a Theology Faculty, wants to continue philosophical studies in order to obtain the Baccalaureate in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, due account must be taken of the courses that the student has attended during the aforementioned studies.”

[Sapientia christiana; Article 32.  n. 1. To enroll in a Faculty in order to obtain an academic degree, one must present that kind of study title which would be necessary to permit enrollment in a civil university of one’s own country or of the country where the Faculty is located.  n. 2. The Faculty, in its own Statutes, should determine what, besides what is contained in n. 1 above, is needed for entrance into its course of study, including ancient and modern language requirements.]

 

Commentary:

Up into the A.D. 1970s, the education of many future priests began in high school seminaries.  This four years of secondary preparation was followed by three to four years of undergraduate college in which seminarians were exposed to a great deal of philosophy.  After this the diaconal/presbyteral candidates received four years of theological education.  During these twelve years of preparation the future priest, or deacon could expect to receive formal education in at least two  and perhaps three classical languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew) and in two or more modern european languages (French, German, Spanish or Italian).  S/he who entered into the same undergraduate (philosophy) and graduate (theology) tracks, with the intent of becoming a lay minister, would also have to demonstrate proficiency in a number of these classical and modern languages.

One reason for these requirements was that a great deal of that philosophy and theology taught in Roman Catholic universities is obtained through a dialogical investigation of primary source texts.  Many of these primary source texts were written in one of these classical or modern languages.  Though good translations of most of these can be found in the vernacular (i.e. English, in English speaking countries) there are times that a translation cannot capture subtle nuances of meaning in the original text.  Consider the following example.  A common English verb “to loosen” has fifty some different forms of voice, mood, tense, and person.  The koine Greek verb λὑω (pronounced loo-oh and which also means “to loosen”) has around 250 different forms of voice, mood, tense, and person.  This Greek language permits the expression of some 250 shades of meaning whereas English permits maybe fifty shades of meaning.  Quite often, the translation from a Greek New Testament text or from a philosophical or theological text written in Greek, is a straightforward affair which allows the full meaning of the Greek text to be adequately translated into English.  However, there are times when the Greek language author/writer wishes to communicate a subtle meaning which is made possible by the multitude of different forms allowed by Greek language verbs.  Attempting to translate these subtle nuanced texts into English proves quite difficult.  An analogy to understand this difficulty might be to consider being provided a Crayola Eight Pack and the original of one of Claude Monet’s paintings of water lilies and the Guverny Bridge.  Imagine then that one is then instructed to make as close a copy as one can of this original impressionist masterpiece using only these eight crayons.  The task would be difficult.

A second reason one should have a working familiarity with foreign languages is to allow a full access to the intended meaning of Vatican documents written originally in Latin and full access to the intended meaning of the various documents of regional episcopal conferences.  One thinks of the value of being able to read the Spanish language version of the Medellin Documents which coined and used the phrase “preferential option for the poor”.

A third reason is that, in our modern world, the original teaching of many core theological and philosophical concepts are in some language other than the vernacular.  It is good to be able to access these teachings in their original languages.  There are many examples.  A correct understanding of the ethics espoused by Immanual Kant may well be facilitated by accessing his writings in their original German.  Due in part to the terms he creates and the unique definitions he assigns those terms in his writings, Kant’s German is difficult to understand.  This difficulty complicates the production of adequate translations.  And yet, an adequate understanding of Kantian ethics is essential for the homilist or catechist to detect when a Kantian version of Aristotelian continence is being called a Christian morality, which it is not.  Another example is the value of being able to access the nuanced meaning of phenomenological investigation as it was expressed by Edmund Husserl, Franz Brentano, max Scheller, Martin Heideggar, Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II), Edith Stein (Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), Hannah Arendt, et alii.  Finally, there is the issue of having access to the meaning of a text or teaching when access to the same is only available in the original language of the writer or speaker.  The story is told that a class in ethics was being taught at one of the Vatican universities.  The professor was giving his instruction in Italian to a large group of students who came from dozens of different nations.  For many of these students, their first language was something other than Italian.  At some point during the lecture a student, having obtained the attention of the professor, made the statement that he was unable to understand the professor because his lecture was in Italian.  To this the professor responded, “Perhaps you should learn Italian.”

A final reason for an ability to speak and write in a number of languages is that our parishes often have members whose first, and sometimes only, language differs from what might be called the predominant or original language of the parish.  It might be necessary to be able to have catechetical ministers, pastoral ministers, liturgists, and homilists who can competently translate an important idea or statement or text from one of these languages into another.  Imagine a parish in which the predominant language is Spanish.  Over time, the culture in which these persons find themselves grows increasingly consumeristic and materialistic.  Imagine further that due to changing demographics and economic realities, many middle class English speaking persons are moving into this parish and becoming its members.  Finally, imagine a parish education event in which the issue of serving the needy is to be considered.  At such a point, the English speaking members might find valuable an accurate nuanced translation of the Medellin Document‘s section which addresses the issue of “la opción preferencial por los pobres” (the preferential option for the poor).

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.

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