Thomas Instituut te Utrecht (Tilburg University)

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Congress 'Guilt and Forgiveness in Aquinas'

May 1996 - On 13, 14 and 15th of December 1995 the Thomas Instituut te Utrecht held a congress on 'Guilt and Forgiveness in Aquinas'. About 40 participants gathered in the conferencecenter Woudschoten near Zeist to occupy themselves with this subject.
The Institute had invited a number of speakers from the Netherlands and from abroad. Each of them contributed from their own viewpoints to the discussions. After the opening statements by Prof. Dr. H.W.M. Rikhof based on Aquinas' commentary on Psalm 50 (51), Prof. Dr. F.J.A. de Grijs in the first lecture spoke about the wrath of God (Ira Dei), stating that according to Thomas Aquinas man metaphorically names situations in which he is punished for being separated from God, 'wrath of God'.
Prof. Dr. Mark Jordan, from the University of Notre Dame (USA) focused his attention on Aquinas' use of 'peccatum'. In the first part of his lecture he discussed the place of 'peccatum' in the different writings of Aquinas. In the second part he explained that with Aquinas peccatum is a notion that covers the whole range of small, particular, concrete acts of the will, that make the will turn away from God, on Whom the will is naturally directed.
In the third lecture Prof. Dr. Th. Beemer spoke about actual guilt and the extinction of guilt with Thomas Aquinas. He stressed the fact that sin originates from our imperfect knowledge of God. The extinction of guilt implicates a change from the soul from guilt to justice, which change is the effect of Gods grace.
Unfortunately the fourth lecturer, Prof. Dr. G. Wieland from Tübingen, was not able to attend to the congers because of illness.

During the congress four papers where presented, that resulted out of two groups that had prepared the subject of Guilt and Forgiveness in the months before the congress. Prof. Dr. van Tongeren, speaking about guilt, forgiveness and tolerance, tried to find a connection between forgiveness and tolerance with Aquinas, and our present understanding of tolerance.
Prof. Dr. Wissink, presenting his paper about satisfaction as a part of the sacrament of penance, demonstrated how essential and meaningful a part of penance satisfaction is.
In a survey of Aquinas, Luther and Calvin, Prof. Dr. Brinkman showed that the doctrinal oppositions on the sacrament of penance are not that sharp as one used to think.
Dr. Vosman, and Drs. Leget demonstrated the interdependence of morality and sacramentology in Aquinas doctrine on the sacrament of penance.

Reading Sessions
In two reading sessions two texts of Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles IV, 72 on the necessity of (the sacrament of) penance and its parts, and the third article of Summa Theologiae III q.85 (whether the virtue of penance is a kind of justice) were read.