Thomas International Center
The goal of the Thomas International Center is cultural renewal in light of the Western and Christian intellectual traditions.
This broad goal is made concrete in more specific objectives, which include:
- Work with students at renowned universities, such as Duke University, the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University, to help them achieve a more integrated education, drawing on the rich classical and Christian heritage of Western civilization;
- Promote scholarship in the classical and Christian intellectual tradition, especially as represented by Thomas Aquinas, which offers a framework for addressing the many social problems we face in our world today;
- Sponsor public programs to clarify important issues facing our society especially in light of the principles of Western civilization and the American founding.
Path of Tradition
The Special Place of Thomas Aquinas in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition
John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, 43
A quite special place in this long development belongs to Saint Thomas, not only because of what he taught but also because of the dialogue which he undertook with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time. In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.
The Thomistic Tradition
Since the 13th century, Aquinas’s spirit lived on through exceptional people who not only studied what he wrote, but embodied his love for God and for “the world and its values;” people with the same “courage of the truth,” “freedom of spirit in confronting new problems,” and “the intellectual honesty of those who allow Christianity to be contaminated neither by secular philosophy nor by a prejudiced rejection of it;” people who pass as well “into the history of Christian thought” as pioneers of the new paths of “philosophy and universal culture” (Fides et Ratio, 43).
Men and women continue to preserve Aquinas’s wisdom. They connect the past to the future by leaving not just their priceless writings, but also their students, young scholars trained in fidelity to the faith, intellectual freedom and open mindedness.
Model for Thinkers
Thomas Aquinas is a cornerstone of Catholic thought, not just because of his theology, but for his fidelity, earnest prayer and humble open mindedness. He did not exclude truths from other sources; rather, he was always ready to welcome new philosophical insights.
Aquinas is a model for Catholic thinkers, an authentic citizen of his time. He traveled extensively and participated in the most difficult political, legal and ethical debates of his time. Due to his exceptional problem-solving, he was asked to advise on difficult political and legal issues. Today, in a culture that has to face the new challenges of relativism and nihilism, on the one hand, and of homogenization, on the other, Aquinas’s life and thought set the direction for a revival of truth in ethics and metaphysics.
Aquinas and the Contemporary World
The renewal of Thomistic studies in the contemporary world starts with a strong basis in philosophy.
This renewal includes:
- Recovering the unity of knowledge;
- Creating a wide international community of intellectuals and professionals working in all fields and disciplines;
- Reconciling the language that philosophers, theologians, physicists, biologists, politicians, economists, lawyers and sociologists employ;
- Foster a constant dialogue.