After almost 20 years, the International Thomistic Congress once again gathered to explore new perspectives and resources in the study of St. Thomas Aquinas’s thoughts on philosophy and theology. Among its research presenters is currently an associate of the UST Center for Theology, Religious Studies and Ethics (CTRSE).
Levine Andro Lao, who also teaches at the UST Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, was among the researchers chosen to speak at the international congress. The event, which gathered over 350 attendees, was held at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, Italy in September 2022.
The honorary president of the congress was His Eminence Luis Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Sponsors of the event were the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum Thomistic Institute, the McDonald Agape Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, and the Jacques Maritain Center.
Lao presented a paper on the thoughts of Fr. Zeferino Gonzalez, O.P. a cardinal and alumnus of the UST, who was among the champions of the Thomistic revival in the 19th century. Gonzalez was noted to have influenced or had been referred to by several other important philosophers and theologians. Among them were Fr. Norberto del Prado, OP of the University of Fribourg; philosophers Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, Etienne Gilson, and Désiré-Joseph Cardinal Mercier; and the founder of the Ecole Biblique, Fr. Marie-Joseph Lagrange, O.P.
Pope Francis personally graced the gathering with a message and reminder to the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas and other scholars of Thomistic thought. One important note he gave was about the instrumentalization of the wisdom of the Angelic Doctor, which results in “casuistic thinking.”
According to the Pope, one must never use St. Thomas’s ideas to imprudently advance one’s own position.
“Before speaking of St. Thomas, before speaking of Thomism, before teaching, one must contemplate: contemplate the master, understand beyond intellectual thought what the master lived and what the master wanted to tell us,” Pope Francis said.
This 2022 Congress is considered to have gathered the largest group of St. Thomas Aquinas scholars in one place. Attendees included scholars and students from across Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, and Australia.
Filipino Dominicans Fr. Felix de los Reyes, O.P. and Fr. Rudolf Steven Seño, O.P. were also part of the historic gathering. Both are currently studying for their doctorate in Rome.
In 2020, Lao published a critical biography of Cardinal Gonzalez in the Philippiana Sacra titled “The Nineteenth-Century Thomist from the Far East: Cardinal Zeferino González, OP (1831–1894).”