INTER MUNERA ACADEMIARUM
JOHN PAUL II
FOR PERPETUAL REMEMBRANCE
1. AMONG THE
TASKS OF THE ACADEMIES founded over the centuries by the Roman Pontiffs,
research in philosophy and theology holds pride of place.
In my recent
Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio, I put great importance on the dialogue between
theology and philosophy and clearly expressed my appreciation of the thought
of St Thomas Aquinas, recognizing its enduring originality (cf. nn. 43-44).
Thomas can rightly be called "an apostle of the truth" (n. 44). In fact, the
insight of the Angelic Doctor consists in the certainty that there is a basic
harmony between faith and reason (cf. n. 43). "It is necessary therefore that
the mind of the believer acquire a natural, consistent and true knowledge of
— the world and man himself
— which are also the object
of divine Revelation. Still more, reason must be able to articulate this
knowledge in concept and argument" (n. 66).
2. At the dawn of the third millennium, many cultural conditions have changed. Very significant progress
has been made in the field of anthropology, but above all substantial changes
have occurred in the very way of understanding the human being's condition in
relation to God, to other human beings and to all creation. First of all, the
greatest challenge of our age comes from a growing separation between faith and
reason, between the Gospel and culture. The studies dedicated to this immense
area are increasing day by day in the context of the new evangelization.
Indeed, the message of salvation encounters many obstacles stemming from
erroneous concepts and a serious lack of adequate formation.
3. A century
after the promulgation of the Encyclical Letter Aeterni Patris of my Predecessor
Leo XIII, which marked the beginning of a new development in the renewal of
philosophical and theological studies and in the relationship between faith
and reason, I would like to give a new impetus to the Pontifical Academies
working in this area, in accordance with the thought and tendencies of the
present day as well as the pastoral needs of the Church.
the work carried out for centuries by the members of the Pontifical Roman
Theological Academy and the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas and the
Catholic Religion, I have decided to renew the attached Statutes of these
Pontifical Academies, so that with greater effectiveness they can increase
their involvement in the philosophical and theological field, in order to
further the pastoral mission of the Successor of Peter and of the universal
4. The Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas.
is the name we give St Thomas Aquinas because he was always ready to receive the
values of all cultures (Address to the Participants in the VIII International
Thomistic Congress, 13 September 1980; Insegnamenti, III, 2  609). In
the cultural conditions of our time, it seems truly appropriate to develop
further this part of Thomistic doctrine which deals with humanity, given that
his assertions on the dignity of the human person and the use of his reason, in
perfect harmony with the faith, make St Thomas a teacher for our time. Human
beings, especially in the contemporary world, are concerned with this
question: What is man? In employing this epithet, "Doctor Humanitatis", I am
following in the footsteps of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council regarding
the use of the teaching of Aquinas´ writings, both in the philosophical and
theological training of priests (Decree Optatam totius, n. 16), and in deepening
the harmony and agreement between faith and reason in universities (Declaration
Gravissimum educationis, n. 10).
In my recently published Letter Fides et ratio,
I wished to recall the enthusiasm of my Predecessor Leo XIII in promulgating
the Encyclical Letter which began with the words Aeterni Patris (4 August 1879;
ASS 11 [1878-1879] 97115): "The great Pope revisited and developed the
First Vatican Council's teaching on the relationship between faith and reason,
showing how philosophical thinking contributes in fundamental ways to faith
and theological learning. More than a century later, many of the insights of his
Encyclical Letter have lost none of their interest from either a practical or
pedagogical point of view - most particularly, his insistence upon the
incomparable value of the philosophy of St Thomas. A renewed insistence upon
the thought of the Angelic Doctor seemed to Pope Leo XIII the best way to
recover the practice of a philosophy consonant with the demands of faith" (Fides et
ratio, n. 57). This truly memorable Letter was entitled Epistula
Encyclica de Philosophia Christiana ad mentem Sancti Thomae Aquinatis Doctoris
Angelici in Scholis Catholicis instauranda.
The same Leo XIII created the Roman Academy of St Thomas Aquinas (Apostolic Letter
Iampridem ad Em. mum Card.
Antoninum De Luca, 15 October 1879), so that the recommendations of this
Encyclical would be put into practice. The following year, delighted with the
work begun, he wrote to the Cardinals responsible for the new Academy (Apost.
Let., 21 November 1880). Fifteen years later he approved the Statutes and
established further norms (Apost. Brief Quod iam inde, 9 May 1895). With the
Apostolic Letter In praecipuis laudibus, 23 January 1904, St Pius X confirmed
the Academy's privileges and regulations. The Statutes were amended and completed with the approval of the Roman Pontiffs Benedict XV
(11 February 1916)
and Pius XI, who on 10 January 1934 combined this Academy with the Pontifical
Academy of the Catholic Religion, which, in circumstances that were then very
different, had been founded in 1801 by Fr Giovanni Fortunato Zamboni. I am
pleased to recall Achille Ratti (1882) and especially Giovanni Battista Montini
(1922), who, as young priests, obtained their doctorates in Thomistic philosophy
at this Roman Academy of St Thomas and were later called to the Supreme
Pontificate, taking the names of Pius XI and Paul VI.
To carry out the wishes
expressed in my Encyclical Letter, I considered it opportune to revise the
Statutes of the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas, in order to make it an
effective instrument for the Church and for all humanity. In the cultural
circumstances of the present day described above, it seems appropriate,
indeed necessary, for this Academy to serve as a central and international
forum for studying St Thomas' teaching better and more carefully, so that the
metaphysical realism of the actus essendi which pervades all the Angelic
Doctor's philosophy and theology can enter into dialogue with the many
directions in today's research and doctrine.
Therefore, with knowledge and mature deliberation, and the fullness of my Apostolic authority, by virtue of this
Letter I approve in perpetuum the Statutes of the Pontifical Academy of St
Thomas Aquinas, duly drawn up and newly revised, granting them the force of
5. The Pontifical Theological Academy.
The Church, teacher
of truth, has ceaselessly encouraged the study of theology and seen that both
the clergy and faithful, especially those called to the service of theology,
have been properly trained. At the beginning of the 18th century, under the
auspices of my Predecessor Clement XII, the Theological Academy was founded in
Rome as a centre for the sacred disciplines and an enrichment for noble spirits,
so that it might serve as a source of abundant fruits for the Catholic cause.
Therefore, the above-mentioned Supreme Pontiff, with his Letter of 23 April
1718, canonically established a study centre and endowed it with privileges.
Benedict XIII, another of my Predecessors, attended the meetings and activities
of this Academy while he was a Cardinal "summa cum animi ... iucunditate",
(cf. Apost. Let., 6 May 1726), and reflected on "how much splendour and
prestige it would bring not only to the beloved city of Rome, but to the whole
Christian world, if this same Academy were strengthened with new and more effective support, so that it might be
consolidated and make ever greater
progress" (cf. ibid.). Thus, not only did he approve the Academy which
Clement XI had established, but also bestowed his favour and generosity upon it.
Therefore, recognizing the satisfying and very abundant fruits produced by the
Theological Academy, Clement XIV continued to assist it with no less favour
and generosity. This work was taken up and completed by my Predecessor Gregory
XVI, who, on 26 October 1838, approved the wisely drafted Statutes with his
Apostolic authority. It has now seemed necessary to me to revise these laws so
that they may be better suited to the requirements of our time. The principal
mission of theology today consists in promoting dialogue between Revelation
and the doctrine of the faith, and in offering an ever deeper understanding of
it. Graciously acceding to the requests I received to approve these new laws,
and desiring that this distinguished study centre continue to grow in stature,
therefore, by virtue of this Letter, I approve in perpetuum the Statutes of the
Pontifical Theological Academy, duly drawn up and newly revised, granting them
the force of Apostolic approval.
6. Everything I have decreed in this Letter
given motu proprio I order to be established and ratified, all things to the
Given in Rome, at St Peter's, on 28 January, the
memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, in the year 1999, the twenty-first of my