Rorate Caeli

The Society of Scholastics -- online courses about to start

A reader has alerted us to the online courses about to be offered by the International Society of Scholastics, which describes itself as follows:

We are an intellectual association committed to restoring the philosophic doctrines, didactic principles, and scientific synthesis of the great masters of the classical universities, the Scholastics. We hold Thomas of Aquin to be the paradigm of Scholastic scholars and we apply ourselves to renewing the great scientific tradition forged by his Commentators throughout the centuries.
With a strong emphasis on Logic, the division and subordination of the sciences, and strict methodology, we defend our attention to detail with the axiom: 'A small error in principle is a large error in conclusion.'
The society was founded in 2005 by students studying at the pontifical universities in Rome. Its Board of Advisors is comprised of Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, who has sometimes been called the last of the great theologians of the pre-Conciliar Roman School, and Msgr. Rudolf Michael Schmitz ICRSS, of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. All members are required to uphold the primacy of St. Thomas Aquinas, to adhere to the 24 Theses proposed by Fr. Guido Mattiusi SJ and endorsed by the Holy See in 1914 as embodying authentic Thomism, and to be faithful to the consensus of that Thomistic tradition whose most recent representatives were Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Santiago Ramirez and Joseph Gredt.
The website of the Society hosts Sapientis, an online course of studies based entirely on the principles of Aristotelian Thomism. The course will cover Scholastic logic, physics, psychology, ethics and metaphysics. The website also has the Lorenzelli Digital Library, a very rich resource for scholastic material in Latin and English.


  1. Thank you for this information!

  2. Lambertinus hic est, Romæ decus, et pater orbis Qui mundum scriptis docuit, virtutibus ornat.

  3. Anonymous5:54 PM

    Quote: "All members are required to uphold the primacy of St. Thomas Aquinas, to adhere to the 24 Theses proposed by Fr. Guido Mattiusi SJ and endorsed by the Holy See in 1914 as embodying authentic Thomism, and to be faithful to the consensus of that Thomistic tradition whose most recent representatives were Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Santiago Ramirez and Joseph Gredt".

    A blog article of Father Finigan addressed the problem, whether the 24 theses are obligatory for all in the Church. There he quoted the introduction to the Decree of introducing theses 24 theses in Denzinger-Schonmetzer itself:

    "The philosophia perennis is indeed taught by the Church as the essential basis of Catholic theology. However, various protestations were made and dubia sent in to the Congregation by those who considered that the Decree might infringe the legitimate liberty of teachers in schools that were less "Thomist", to hold other opinions. Therefore in 1916, the same Sacred Congregation of Studies said that the 24 theses expressed the genuine doctrine of St Thomas and that they were safe directive norms. This indicated that the Congregation did not intend to impose them as of absolute obligation upon the various schools.

    In 1917, Pope Benedict XV wrote to the General of the Jesuits, Fr Vladimir Ledochowski saying that he had judged rightly in saying that there was no obligation imposed of holding all of the theses, and that if the Jesuits were to dispute various customarily disputed questions they should not fear that by doing so they were giving less than proper obsequium to the Roman Pontiff."

    more on the blog of Father Finigan.

  4. Anonymous:

    I don't think the Society of Scholastics intends to teach that the 24 Theses are binding on ALL Catholics. It does, however, for purpose of membership, choose only among those Thomistic scholars who do so. They are perfectly within their rights to do this.

  5. It seems to me that there are some who wish to go back to the exaggerations which existed in the Church before Vatican II and which caused an over-reaction. For example Father Garrigou-Lagrange argued that the Church insisted on Thomism. Shortly afterwards Pope Pius XII stated in an address to the Gregorian University in Rome that one need not be a Thomist and could adhere to the other scholastics schools, explicitly mentioning the scholastic method of the Gregorian (Suarezianism) and implying also Scotism, Augustianianism, etc.

    What use does it do to defend orthodoxy not wish philosophically sound arguments, but with rigid adherence to discreditable theories. For example this groups seems to follow John of Saint Thomas, who held the extreme position that it is impossible that Saint Thomas ever contradicted himself and so contradictions in Saint Thomas (few as they are) must be reconciled. So instead of holding what Saint Thomas held at some point one holds something which Saint Thomas never held simply to force a reconciliation of the words he used. If a mind as brilliant as Saint Augustine could write an entire book of retractions there is no reason why Saint Thomas could not have had minor changes of opinion.

    In other cases the "strict Roman" Thomist school this group seems to represent holds views which are may or may not be implied by the doctrines of Saint Thomas, but we will never know since Saint Thomas did not address such issues. If one wants to hold "strict Roman school" doctrines, at least admit that in many cases one is holding opinions which at least may be at odds with those of Saint Thomas.

    In light of this blog's emphasis on the Traditional Latin Mass it is perhaps worth noting that some of the most significant defenders of that form of liturgy were not Thomists, in fact were highly critical of Thomism. One need only think of Dietrich von Hildebrand, a phenomenologist and student of Edmund Husserl. (Actually I am quite critical of phenomenology, but that is besides the point.) Jacques Maritain also signed a letter to Paul VI asking for preservation of the Traditional Liturgy and his existential Thomism were certainly not "strict Roman school", though there were many similarities.

    Unfortunately it seems that the group in question is more likely to simply appear a caricature of traditional Catholic philosophy rather than present a philosophy which is both truly loyal to the substance of Catholic tradition and academically respectable.

  6. Michel1:57 AM

    Well, Msgr. Schmitz is not really a Traditionalist anyway. He joined the Institute relatively recently, and before that had a Vatican carreer that did not strike anyone as being particularly oriented towards Tradition in any shape or form.

    I see this more as political posturing than anything else. The direction of the wind has changed in Rome and some smart people have taken notice.

  7. John L3:04 AM

    The comment about the Jesuit general is interesting, as the 24 theses were aimed at the Suarezianism that was the official doctrine of the Jesuits. Part of the story of the Jesuits' rejection of the faith in the 20th century lies in their rejection of the Thomist revival due to their attachment to Suarezianism, and their attraction to infidel philosophies of the 20th century due to the elements these philosophies had in common with Suarez; Rahner is only the most important example of this process.

  8. "I don't think the Society of Scholastics intends to teach that the 24 Theses are binding on ALL Catholics. It does, however, for purpose of membership, choose only among those Thomistic scholars who do so. They are perfectly within their rights to do this."

    I should have typed "only among those Thomistic scholars who adhere to the 24 theses"

    I guess this is what too little sleep does...

  9. James has put it very well. Very well indeed.

  10. Anonymous9:04 AM

    I am the "anonymous" who wrote the third comment:

    Carlos Antonio Palad:

    I agree it is their good right only to allow members with a certain prescribed mind-set. But it gives me the impression that research doesn't play a central role for this Society, their aims seems to be rather a conservation of a certain interpretation of Thomas Aquinas.

    To John L.

    You erred that Suarezianism should be responsible for the modernist theology. I think it is unfair to tear the Church in irreconcilable parties, for example: either you are a certain kind of Thomist, or you are bad and not Catholic. Indeed, Suarez and the Jesuit Theology around 16th. century was developed upon the reception of Thomas. It is foolish to say that Suarez is not Thomist, or the Jesuits were not Thomists. Works of Thomas Aquinas were quickly taken as the official and obligatory teaching materials in the Jesuit schools not long after Iganacius set up the Jesuit Order (indeed arleady in the second generation of the Jesuits). A lot of great Jesuit Theologians wrote Commentaries on the Summa Theologiae of Thomas, the most prominent example: St. Bellarmine.

    The Jesuit Order has another tradition though: the Blessed John Duns Scotus. And there were certain attempts to conciliate both great medieval thinkers. So what the Jesuit Order represented was a certain school of Thomism.

    Each great Order in the Church has its own great theologians and special tradition. The Franciscans have St. Bonaventura and Duns Scotus. It seems ridiculous to say that only a certain interpretation between 1850 and the Vatican I is the only good Thomism. Indeed, there are schools of Thomism, not the Thomism.

    But James has already put everything very very well. I am just trying to respond to John L. regarding his attack on the Jesuit Theology of the 16th. and 17th. century.

  11. Joe B2:37 PM

    Just to balance this discussion, these criticisms of Saint Thomas seem small in light of the great good he did. His methods formed much of Catholic thought for a millenium, and we did quite well over that period compared with now, and many more saints praised him than criticised him. In fact, our modern troubles began about the same time his influence decreased, and indeed he was a specified target of the enemies of the church who wreaked havoc imposing their own images on Saint Thomas' territory.

    I doubt that we will ever again achieve the heights we did under the tutilege of Saint Thomas.

  12. Correction5:32 PM

    "Well, Msgr. Schmitz is not really a Traditionalist anyway. He joined the Institute relatively recently, and before that had a Vatican carreer that did not strike anyone as being particularly oriented towards Tradition in any shape or form."

    I guess it depends what you mean by Traditionalist. It is true that Monsignor Schmitz was originally a diocesan priest, but I am pretty sure he joined the Institute back in 2000, after having already been a professor at their seminary for several years. He has for a long time been associated with the "old Roman" theological review 'Divinitas', and so I am not sure how his adherence to doctrinal and liturgical Tradition could be seen as a "new" response to changing circumstances. His old diplomatic post in a remote corner of the globe was a "gift" from liberal prelates who did not want anyone quite so traditional working close to home, in Rome or in Germany.

  13. Michel7:25 PM

    @ Correction :

    Yes, 2000 is relatively recent indeed. What I wrote was not a personal attack, it was just noticing that some people have fought the fight for Tradition for many years, and have paid the price for that. Some others have joined the fight more recently, when one could already feel (that was in the last third of the previous pontificate) that times were-a-changin'.

    By the way, a globe does not have "corners"... and the notion of "remote" is... relative to the distance from another point...

  14. Michel, I don't know if Msgr. Schmitz considers himself to be a traditionalist. If he does, the fact that he only converted to traditionalism within the past decade or so cannot be used as evidence that he is not really a traditionalist, or that he's conversion is less than sincere. Whether or not you intended or perceive your comments about Msgr. Schmitz as personal attacks, that is precisely what they are.

    Thanks for the geography lesson, by the way, but I suspect Correction already knows what "corner of the globe" and "remote" mean in reference to geography.

  15. Anonymous9:08 PM

    In 1679 Pope Innocent XI publicly condemned sixty-five of the more radical propositions (stricti mentalis), taken chiefly from the writings of Escobar, Francisco Suárez and other casuists as propositiones laxorum moralistarum and forbade anyone to teach them under penalty of excommunication.

  16. Jamie9:13 PM

    I signed up for the course (after figuring how to get passed the broken part of their signup) and I haven't had an email back. The course starts soon and I am a little disappointed. It costs $250 a semester so you would think they would be relatively quick in replying to prospective students.

  17. "In 1679 Pope Innocent XI publicly condemned sixty-five of the more radical propositions (stricti mentalis), taken chiefly from the writings of Escobar, Francisco Suárez and other casuists as propositiones laxorum moralistarum and forbade anyone to teach them under penalty of excommunication."

    The rigorists, tutiorists and probabiliorists (mainly Dominicans and Franciscans) liked to take this decree as proof for the condemnation of probabilism but the probabilists themselves considered it as condemning only laxism. The latter interpretation has won out in the course of the centuries given probabilism's de facto dominance in Catholic moral theology in the century prior to Vatican II.

  18. At the very least, the 1679 decrees have scarcely affected the standing of the "Doctor Eximius."

  19. Michel6:15 AM


    I am not slandering nor calumniating; I have not attacked anyone's character nor reputation.
    If describing fact is a personal attack, then fine, we should only talk about the weather and everyone would feel good about oneself, nobody would feel attacked.

    What I was saying, and I have been around long enough to observe that many times over, is that politics are at play in Rome (as they have always been) and you know this at least as well as I do.

    I was also saying that the direction of the wind regarding Tradition has changed in Rome, and I am more than willing to give credit to the last sovereign pontiff for that--I was doing exactly that by referring to the last third of the previous pontificate.

    I was commenting on the fact that there is a fair share of smart people who have noticed that. You also know it.

    I rejoice when formerly diocesan priests who had no problem saying the Novus Ordo Mass for decades have a change of heart and come to appreciate the treasure of the Catholic tradition, and in particular the Old Mass. However, I know that these Latter Day Traditionalists were not being helpful at all against our modernist clergy and hierarchy, when the wind was blowing in the other direction.

    Where were they? What were they doing? Well, some of them were having quite lofty careers, in fact some of them became Monsignori, while at the same time good, saintly priests were saying the Mass of All Times in remote chapels paid for by the own money of not well-off faithful who had been driven out of their churches by the Novus Ordo crowd. I know, I lived through that time. Maybe you are too young to have seen this with your own eyes.

    So, excuse me, but I am not attacking anyone. I am simply not naive, that's all.

  20. Woody Jones3:23 PM

    Peter Perkins, any word on the TAC?

  21. Anonymous4:59 PM

    Has anyone been able to contact the Society? I sent them two emails, but did not get a response (4 days now). Also, the online form is not working (did not accept my email address)

    Do others have the same problem?


  22. Jamie5:41 AM

    Alvares: I haven't heard back from them either - it has now been four days for me also.

  23. Michel,

    There are abundant neo-conservatives and come-latelys whom you call appropriately, "Latter Day Traditionalists", who just do not comprehend the period of disorder that you describe. Nor do they understand that, frankly speaking, the trend toward tradition in Rome is a matter for political convenience since the post-conciliar regime is a total disaster and they now have to recognise this after the hyper-realist simulacra of "springtime" and "renewal" propagated chiefly by the last supreme pontiff, has been demonstrated empirically to be the utter nonsense that it was. Leading indicators stare us all in the face to admonish an impending irreparable catastrophe unless something radical is done today. Moreover, the undeniable daily chaos in the church is symptomatic.

    It is noteworthy that while liberals have been able to lampoon and persecute traditional Roman Catholics over the years; deny them authentic use of their churches for The Mass of All Times and who have calumniated them for other alleged misdemeanours, there are those who would take exception to your remarks here which pale in comparison and are entirely inoffensive. For example, witness the diatribes and bare-faced calumnies against Fr Gomar de Pauw, Archbishop Lefebvre and other traditionalists. Nothing is ever said about these.

    This pope has had the good sense to realise, at last, that the NO is going nowhere but his response is a characteristic liberal modernist one of embracing all movements into the neo-catholic church into one fold, as it were. He has proposed a paradigmatic hermeneutic of continuity in order to justify his approach. No one can deny this as he has been inclusive with the Neo-Catechumenal Way (certainly not Roman Catholic); the emotive protestant Charismatic sect; Focolare and the ecumenical meanderings and interreligious scandals of the previous administration continue, as do the countless liturgical ones. All these are interpreted officially as in sympathy with the continuity model. Into this context, The Vatican hopes to include the traditionalist movement and then disarm it as just another smorgasbord option for members of the inclusive postmodernist church to belong to. This is why the Vatican Councils need to be revised thoroughly before everyone becomes too idealistic and is incapable of seeing the proverbial wood for the trees. The fact that this is no longer "untouchable" and beyond criticism (unless you are a radical liberal/socialist bishop) is significant in itself.

    As Cardinal Ratzinger once stated, his liberal friends changed but he did not. This is his direction. It has traditional trappings but it is essentially a liberal one with a pronounced inclusivist foundation. This is its core.

    Liturgical hybridisation is in process and has been since Bugnini stamped his credentials on the continuing modernist penchant for permanent "change" and "development" to which The Holy Mass in Latin has fallen victim.

    The LMS and other efforts to train presbyters who have been inadequately taught in the modernist seminaries, are placing The Holy Mass in even greater danger of hybridisation than ever. These are imbued with the mores of situation ethics and psychodynamics. Thus, such a methodology requires much fuller reinforcement and training procedures than there are at present. Without proper seminary training including The Holy Mass in Latin with its rubrics and a profound respect for these, the future is a highly uncertain one. Without sufficient centralised discipline in the church any policies will ultimately fail. This has been tragically lacking in the last 50 years unless it was a traditionalist who required putting "in order".

    The Society of Scholastics and its Thomist emphasis can only be welcome as an indicator of the direction in which priestly & lay formation needs to go now and in the future. Let us hope it functions properly.

  24. I for one view the inauguration of this Society as a very good thing indeed. I'm not sure where this animus (evidenced by some of the others here) against the Commentators comes from; in all the various disputes of the Scholastics, the Common Doctor's advice is no doubt the best to follow: Consider not by whom something is said, but what is said. In general, though, it is significant that the Thomist position on various disputed questions has never come under even the shadow of condemnation or reprobation. That is not true of certain other schools: most notably those Jesuits who followed the "scientia media" theory. They were, apparently, only saved from papal condemnation by the death of Clement VIII. The "correction" of laxism and probabilism is at least an indication that some of the principles used by the Jesuits and their School were liable to error. St. Thomas, however, has been praised multiple times throughout history; he is rightly known as the Common Doctor of the Church; he was originally given the title of Doctor to aggregate him, as it were, to the Doctores of the ancient Church; in certain instances, his very language has been used wholesale in dogmatic definitions of the Church. The Thomistic Commentators, to their credit, have always explicitly sought to remain faithful to the principles and doctrine of St. Thomas and (in each of their particular areas of expertise) have usually been able to show their fidelity by explicit references to the Angelic Doctor.

    Any Society that attempts to promote a revival of this bulwark of the Faith is to be welcomed with open arms, in my opinion. I'm not sure what this or that person's adherence to Traditionalism or the Traditionalist Faith (of all things!) has to do with anything. Indeed, there was a time not so long ago when Traditionalism was only used of a condemned error (along with Fideism). St. Thomas' doctrine is--as numerous Saints and Popes have attested--a living connection with all of Catholic Tradition at its most rigorous and vibrant.

  25. For those who are not getting through about the courses, go here:

    It is their blog and they explain there that the application system is broken and that you should email them to signup instead. The email address is on their blog page.

    It would be nice if Rorate put this information in the original article to save others the trouble of trying to figure it out - especially as the courses start in only a week or so.

  26. For Capreolous,

    The Thomistic commentators were not always faithful to Saint Thomas. There are three ways of writing a commentary:

    A) To explain what the person being commented on actually meant.

    B) To sincerely misinterpret what the person being commented on meant.

    c) To interpret the person being commented on to make him say what you want him to say rather than what he actually said.

    Nothing about the fact of the commentators quoting Saint Thomas proves that their commentary was in category "a". Refusal to take into account certain developments of and contradictions within Saint Thomas's thought (as though he were perfectly consistent in his thinking) leads to commentary in category "a" being impossible on certain matters.

    Saint Thomas's denial of the Immaculate Conception would today be heresy, so it is impossible to be both orthodox and a strict Thomist, if by "strict Thomist" is meant one who agrees with all of Saint Thomas's doctrines.

    Similarly to try to base metaphysics on Aristotle's physics (as Aristotle and Saint Thomas tried to do) is impossible unless one want to completely ignore any understanding of physics which has developed in the past centuries. Cardinal Mercier attepted to show how early 20th century physics could also be used to support Thomistic metaphysics. But the physics which Mercier was using have been disproved. So for metaphysics either one must constantly find ways to make metaphysics fit the latest theories in physics or by scientifically in (likely) error or find some way to be build metaphysics on something other than physics.

    A basis can be found for the last named option in the though of Saint Augustine, Saint Bonaventure, Blessed John Duns Scotus and also in certain 20th century thinkers who attempted to return to (a more or less Thomistic) metaphysics through philosophical anthropology and ethics.

    The variety of Thomism which seems to be represented by this "Society of Scholastics" seems to be not so much philosophy as it is a sort of fideistic adherence to a certain school of intepretation of Saint Thomas, the same type of fideistic adherence to non-binding hilosophical theses which caused certain Catholics to attack Saint Thomas himself several hundred years ago.

  27. James,

    The Church has never made Thomism a dogma of faith or has forbidden the study of other legitimate scholastic philosophers such as Scotus, etc. Nonetheless, it is just a fact that the Church did insist on the primacy of Thomism. You can check the relevant documents, such as Aeterni Patris, The 1917 Codex, Studiorum Ducem, Doctoris Angelici, etc. That is no exaggeration. Garrigou-Lagrange was not corrected by Pope Pius XII (as James implies).

    Moreover, Garrigou-Lagrange actually speaks quite highly of other thinkers besides St. Thomas, among whom are St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure, St. Albert, and even Leibnitz to a degree. I find that you do not have an adequate understanding of traditional Scholastic Thomism (which you pejoratively call "strict Roman" Thomists but which nonetheless were not necessarily Roman, and in fact were mostly French and Spanish Dominicans). This is particularly evidenced by your surprise that a Thomist may hold a view that Aquinas didn't hold and by your comment on the three categories of commentators.


Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.


(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!