If there is an active role
for human reason in the finding and application of the moral law, and there
exist an inner law of practical reason called natural law and our God's eternal
law finds its expression therein, and if we can turn to Aquinas to
differentiate between the natural and eternal law and to explore their
1) Do we read Thomas, the theologian?
2) Do we read Thomas, the philosopher?
3) If we read both, then how do we distinguish between those tasks of ours that are philosophical and those that are theological that we might properly apply Thomism?
If we have:
a) the positive or revealed law, distinguished from
b) the natural law, and, within the economy of salvation,
c) the old law and
d) the new law,
then why does Veritatis Splendor, on one hand, suggests that
a) we need go to the heart of the Gospel's moral teaching and grasp its profound and unchanging content, while, on the other hand, it suggests that
b) the natural law is the eternal law itself, implanted in beings endowed with reason, and inclining them towards their right action and end; it is none other than the eternal reason of the Creator and Ruler over the universe?
To the extent Veritatis Splendor had, as one of its aims, the undergirding of Humane Vitae, it seems worthwhile to consider, here, what place human reason is accorded in the encyclical insofar as, again and again, we find the place of reason relegated in the ordinary magisterium's teachings and conservative Catholics discussions, subordinated to authority and tradition.
The reason I bring Aquinas into the equation is to suggest that Thomas more carefully attends to the nuances of our discussions about "law", makes very wise distinctions between
1) law in connection with the Holy Spirit versus
2) law in the broadest sense with the term having a clearly analogical character.
Could the proper use of Aquinas clear this up? That is, could the use of human reason have gained more prominence in 20th century papal encyclicals and CDF declarations had their authors not missed the points made by Thomas the philosopher, Thomas the theologian and even, finally, Thomas, both mystic and lover of God and fellow man?
In essense, I suppose I am suggesting that wherever we encounter human reason taking a real back seat in Church teachings, someone has not listened carefully enough to the Angelic Doctor.