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Who was St. Thomas Aquinas? Benedict XVI explains

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Published on Jan 28, 2011

January 28, 2011. January 28 is the day the Catholic Church honors St. Thomas Aquinas. The Italian saint was a domenican priest and is widely recognized as being one of the most influential figures in the study of theology.

He is also known for his ideas on ethics, political theory, and human rights.

Benedict XVI
"Thomas's conviction that we are naturally able to acknowledge the principles of the natural moral law remains timely, since that law, grounded in the truth of man's nature, is the basis of respect for human dignity and universal human rights."

He is considered to be a model teacher for those studying in the priesthood and is the patron saint of Catholic schools and universities.

He was never able to finish his best known writing the 'Summa Theologica,' but it is still widely used by theologians, like his ideas on the nature of God, that He is neither obvious or unprovable.

Benedict XVI
"Thomas' insistence on the harmony of faith and reason respected the autonomy and complementarity of these two ways of knowing the truth which has its ultimate origin in God's Word."

Many consider his writings to be his greatest contribution to the Catholic Church. His message of unity and harmony is one that Benedict XVI has been trying to invoke when speaking to all Christians.

Thomas Aquinas died in the year 1274 and was canonized by Pope John XXII in 1323, less than 50 years after his death.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, O.P., also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino; (Aquino, 1225 -- Fossanova, 7 March 1274) was an Italian priest of the Catholic Church in the Dominican Order, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus (the Angelic Doctor) and Doctor Communis or Doctor Universalis (the Common or Universal Doctor).[1] "Aquinas" is not a surname (hereditary surnames were not then in common use in Europe), but is a Latin adjective meaning "of Aquino", his place of birth. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, and the father of the Thomistic school of philosophy and theology, which is named after him. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy was conceived as a reaction against, or as an agreement with his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law and political theory.
Thomas is held in the Catholic Church to be the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood.[2] The works for which he is best-known are the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles. One of the 33 Doctors of the Church, he is considered the Church's greatest theologian and philosopher. Pope Benedict XV declared: "The Church has declared Thomas' doctrines to be her own."
Thomas viewed theology, or the sacred doctrine, as a science, the raw material data of which consists of written scripture and the tradition of the Catholic Church. These sources of data were produced by the self-revelation of God to individuals and groups of people throughout history. Faith and reason, while distinct but related, are the two primary tools for processing the data of theology. Thomas believed both were necessary — or, rather, that the confluence of both was necessary — for one to obtain true knowledge of God. Thomas blended Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine by suggesting that rational thinking and the study of nature, like revelation, were valid ways to understand truths pertaining to God. According to Thomas, God reveals himself through nature, so to study nature is to study God. The ultimate goals of theology, in Thomas's mind, are to use reason to grasp the truth about God and to experience salvation through that truth.

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