VATICAN CITY, JUNE 24, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged Christians to give “answers of truth and hope” to people suffering from anxiety by exposing them to a philosophy open to transcendence.
In a word, the Pope urged a “return to metaphysics,” of which St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is a leading proponent. The Holy Father presented the proposal in a message he sent Friday to the participants in the third plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas.
“Today, together with marvelous scientific discoveries and amazing technological advances, we are witnessing two great omissions: the omission of God and of being, the omission of the soul and of the dignity of the human being,” the Pope said in his message. “At times this engenders situations of anxiety to which it is necessary to give rich answers of truth and hope.”
“It is necessary to return to metaphysics,” John Paul II said, recalling No. 83 of his 1998 encyclical “Fides et Ratio.” By that he means a philosophy “capable of transcending empirical data to arrive, in the search for truth, at something absolute, ultimate and fundamental.”
“Many of our contemporaries ask themselves: If God exists, how can he allow evil? It is necessary to explain that evil is the privation of due good, and sin is man´s aversion to God, source of all good,” the Pope continued.
“An anthropological problem, so central to today´s culture, can only find a solution in the light of that which we could define as ´meta-anthropology,´” he added. “That is to say, of understanding the human being as a conscious and free being, ´homo viator,´ who is and who at the same time is becoming.”
The Holy Father continued: “The culture of our time talks a lot about man and knows many things about him, but it often gives the impression of ignoring who he really is. In fact, man can only fully understand himself in the light of God. He is ´image of God´ — ´imago Dei´ — created by love and destined to live in eternity in communion with him.”
This is, precisely, St. Thomas Aquinas´ philosophical proposal, whom John Paul II described in 1980 as “doctor humanitatis” — doctor of humanity.
The Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas was created in 1879 by Pope Leo XIII. Its president is Dominican Abelardo Lobato, who is also president of the International Society of St. Thomas Aquinas.