Thomism and Nouvelle Théologie

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    This issue of theJosephinum Journal of Theology offers a collection of essaysloosely organized around the theme of Thomism and theNouvelle Thologie. Itthereby seeks to shed light on one the most important areas in the last century ofCatholic theology, namely the relation between the thought of St. Thomas Aquinasand that of the diverse movement ofressourcementor back to the sources the-ology that was especially important in the years leading up to the Second VaticanCouncil, in the deliberations and documents of the council itself, and in subsequent

    developments.1 The need to consider carefully the relationship between these twooverlapping2 threads of the Catholic tradition is especially important in thinkingthrough the legacy of the council upon its fiftieth anniversary, and even more so

    when doing so through Pope Benedict XVIs hermeneutic of reform and renewalin continuity.

    Regarding the significance of twentieth-century ressourcement theology,3the need for a deepening understanding of its major thinkers, philosophical roots,

    1. For a newly-published and important collection on this movement, seeRessourcement:A Movement for Renewal in Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology, eds. Gabriel Flynnand Paul D. Murray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). For a discussion of the rela-tion of the key terms nouvelle thologie and ressourcement, see the introduction, 11-12. Here they emphasize the often overlooked point that ressourcementis essentiallya practical theology engaged in an open, critical, and sometimes militant fashion withthe most pressing issues affecting contemporary society, 12. They discuss how somenouveaux thologiens (who were preoccupied with rethinking the supernatural), likeKarl Rahner (with his characteristic supernatural existential) in his later writings, didnot tend to refer explicitly to the Fathers or to cite them (11).

    2. This overlap includes not only Scripture and the Fathers but also much of classical phi-

    losophy and significant aspects of Thomistic thought. For a discussion of how [i]t hasbeen argued that no tension existed between the ressourcementmovement and thethought of St. Thomas, see Ressourcementand the Retrieval of Thomism for the Con-temporary World by Stephen J. Fields, SJ inRessourcement: A Movement for Renewal,355-56 (note that, in this volume, the term nouveaux thologien, which I will use, is aself-description). Fields argues that the Dominican and Jesuit advocates of ressource-menttheology saw Thomas himself as much like the Fathers of the church whom themovement pledged to revive, precisely because he held theology, spirituality, and pas-toral practice in a dynamic and vital unity even as he maintained a dialogue with the cur-rents of his time: thus he served as a paradigm for the movements goal (355). Fieldsreiterates the claim ofressourcementtheologians that they were not opposing Thomas

    but instead defending him against distortions introduced by commentators like Cajetan,Surez and Banez.

    3. The opening essay in the Ressourcement: A Movement for Renewalwas written byGemma Simmonds, C.J. and perhaps surprisingly is entitled Jansenism: An EarlyRessourcement Movement?, 23-35. Though the question indicated by the title maysound perverse in light of widespread misunderstandings of the nature of Jansenism,Simmonds gives a fascinating account of how a closer look at seventeenth-century Jan-senism reveals a remarkable similarity to key aspects of the laterressourcement (23).

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