Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Scotus and the Church
Berard Vogt, "Duns Scotus and St. Thomas", in Franciscan Studies 3 (1925), 36-37:
"The thought might suggest itself: 'What about neo-Scotistic tendencies in the face of the recent strong official recommendations of St. Thomas?' Well, if we wish to convince ourselves of how utterly unfounded the accusations of non-Catholic writers are that during the Middle ages there existed no true liberty of thought, the Church dogmatizing even in matters of pure philosophy and prescribing one orthodox form for all, if we desire to realize the sacred esteem in which the Church held human liberty in all matters of pure speculation, and the vast liberty of opinion she actually sanctioned, knowing well that, owing to the limitations of individual human intuition, genuine rivalry is a healthy sign of mental life and the means of advancing the cause of truth, then we can do so in no better way than by a look into the works of Scotus.
Has the mind of the Church changed in this matter? In Scotus' own ccase we have a positive instance of her solicitude for this liberty of thought, when she forbade some of his opponents who were evidently more zealous than enlightened, to censure any point of his doctrines as heretical
[footnote: Cf. Decree of S. cong. of Inquisition 1620, by express order of Pope Paul V: "Quidquid Scoti esse constaret, intactum, inviolatumque perseveret." At the same time ecclesiastical censors were forbidden to prohibit the printing of anything "quod certo constaret ex Scoto depromptum esse".].
We may here also mention the official approbations of Scotus by Popes Alexander VI, Clement VII, St. Pius V, Clement VIII, Paul V, Urban VIII, Alexander VII, Innocent X, Innocent XI, Innocent XII, Benedict XIV, Pius VII, and Leo XIII. Upon antecedent grounds alone, then, we should be able to form our judgment concerning the thoroughly ecclesiastical spirit of these Scotistic tendencies, even if we had not the express declaration of Pope Pius X in his letter of April 2nd, 1904, to the Minister General of the Friars Minor, highly praising and recommending the ardor displayed within the Order in the study of the illustrious masters of the Franciscan School. We mention these facts only because of false impressions abroad in some circles, as if the doctrines of Scotus were today merely tolerated by the Church, and as though they represented a less correct form of ecclesiastical spirit and teaching."