Christian Humanism Proposes Man's Search for God, Says Pope
Illustrates Importance of St. Thomas Aquinas' Thought Today
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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says that Thomas Aquinas continues to teach contemporary men and women when the 13th-century saint states: "The human being comes from God and must return to him."
"How illuminating this truth is for man of the third millennium, in constant search for fulfillment," the Pope exclaims in a message addressed to the participants in the International Thomist Congress, held in Rome last week, and organized by the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas and the Thomas Aquinas International Society.
In his message, the Pope invites the more than 500 philosophers, theologians and professors who participated in the meeting to ask themselves "what is the specific contribution that St. Thomas can offer at the beginning of the new millennium in the understanding and realization of Christian humanism."
St. Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologiae" centers the first part on God, while the second, "more innovative," analyzes "man's long journey to God," the Pontiff explains.
The third part of the "Summa" states that Jesus "precisely because he is true man, reveals in himself the dignity of every human creature, and is the way of return of the entire cosmos to its beginning, which is God," the Holy Father observes. "Christ is, therefore, the true way of man."
The Pope adds: "Therefore, the humanism of St. Thomas pivots around this essential intuition: Man comes from God and to him he must return. Time is the realm in which he can fulfill his noble mission."
This view of man, however, is not accepted by modern men and women because of "the loss of confidence in reason and in its metaphysical capacity."
Among the phenomena that reveal the problem are "the rejection of transcendence; nihilism; relativism; the denial of the value of human intelligence in the search for truth; the forgetfulness of being; the denial of the soul; the prevalence of the irrational and feeling; fear of the future; existential anxiety," John Paul II says.
"To respond to this very serious challenge, which affects the future destiny of humanism itself," he urges Christians to study in-depth and propose the thought of St. Thomas, who, "with his firm confidence in reason," is able to harmonize "nature and grace."
"In this difficult beginning of the third millennium, many experience to the point of suffering, the need for teachers and witnesses who are able to show valid ways that lead to a world more worthy of man," the message adds.
"It is the historical task of believers to propose Christ 'the Way' by which to advance toward that new humanity, that is in God's plan," it says. "It is clear, therefore, that a priority of the new evangelization consists precisely in helping the man of our time to encounter him personally and to live with him and for him."