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Fr. Chenu: To Demand the Acceptance of St. Thomas' Theology is an Exasperating Abuse of Power

Fr. Dominique Chenu was one of the intellects behind the social movement of the 1930s (click here) that brought a new approach to the Social Catholic Doctrine, dragging it closer to Socialism and Communism. He was also an advocate of the New Theology, condemned in 1942 by Pope Pius XII. His book Une ecole de theologie was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books and he lost his rectorship at the Dominican College of Le Saulchoir.

Nonetheless, Fr. Chenu played an important role at the Council. He was considered the principal inspirer of the "Message of Vatican II to Humankind" at the beginning of its first session (October 20, 1962), as well as the consequent general adaptation of the Church to the modern world. He boasted that the very points for which he was condemned in 1942 were the same exact points later promoted by members of the Hierarchy in the name of the Council.

As an authentic progressivist, Chenu hates St. Thomas Aquinas. Therefore, he considers the anti-Modernist request made by the Holy See in 1914 for professors of theology to subscribe to the 24 theses of St. Thomas to be an abuse of power.

At right is the front cover of Jacques Duquesne interroge le Pere Chenu; at right below, a photocopy of the French text. Below, we present our translation of the lines highlighted in yellow.

The tool of this authoritarianism in theology was St. Thomas. In July 1914 ... the Congregation of Studies, which was in charge of higher theological education, published a list of 24 theses, which were considered a summary of the teaching of St. Thomas. It wanted to impose the acceptance of these theses on all doctoral candidates of theology. To receive a doctorate and, therefore, teach theology at this level in the Church, it was necessary to accept them.

I see in this procedure one of the most exasperating abuses of power in the magisterium of the Church, introducing restrictions even in the scholarly elaboration of theology.

(Marie-Dominique Chenu, Jacques Duquesne interroge le Pere Chenu, Paris: Centurion, 1975, pp. 30-31).

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Posted on April 1, 2006

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