Monday, March 03, 2008

Contra De Lubac

“There has been some dissent from this received opinion about Cajetan and the Thomistic school. At the time of Surnaturel, de Lubac was severely challenged and, as we have seen, silenced. But he outlived his critics or they fell out of fashion and he emerged in the postconciliar Church as a surviving hero whose teaching on the supernatural and negative assessment of the whole Thomistic school became part of postconciliar lore. Eventually, as de Lubac himself ruefully observed in the second edition of his Memoire, he himself was pushed aside. It is a melancholy thought that the refutation of de Lubac’s position had to wait his relative eclipse.

Of course, a charge of such magnitude has to be carefully assessed. But by many it wasn’t. Like its formulator, they were predisposed to believe the worst about the Thomistic tradition. Presumably the doctrine attributed to Cajetan could be found in his writings. But this is just where the difficulties begin. Florent Gaboriau, not for the first time, has countered the de Lubac view in Thomas d’Aquin en dialogue, the book that reprints the Boulnois article as well as Gaboriau’s critique and a reply from Boulnois that prompted Gaboriau to write his book. Where, Gaboriau wants to know, did Cajetan write the things attributed to him by de Lubac et sequaces eius? A historical charge must repose on evidence. But Gaboriau is unable to find any texts of the great commentator that say what he is said to have said. Or, when accurate, what is attributed to him as an aberration is pure Thomism, for example, the notion of ‘pure nature.’ ‘Let me add that in fact the idea of a purus homo is not strange to Cajetan, but if one complains of that in him, it would appear that Saint Thomas too must be reproved. The phrase occurs not only in the biblical commentaries but in his masterpiece, the phrase repeated three times in the same article.’”

-Ralph McInerny in Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosphers.

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