Professor discusses Aquinas, natural law
Kaitlyn Rabach | Friday, February 1, 2013
A Boston College professor connected Saint Thomas Aquinas’ themes of solidarity, justice and natural law with contemporary global feminism in a lecture at Saint Mary’s on Thursday.
Dr. Lisa Sowle Cahill’s talk, titled “Aquinas and Natural Law: Resources for Women’s Equality,” was part of the College’s 16th Annual Symposium on Aquinas. It took place in the Student Center Lounge.
Although Aquinas did not participate in the modern women’s movement, his ideas directly relate to contemporary Catholic social teaching, Cahill said. She said bringing Aquinas’ theory of natural law, which takes a ‘do good, avoid evil’ approach, into modern dialogue aids discussion about feminist theology.
“This natural law theory, applied equitably with a 20th century lens, results in a basic notion of justice for all,” Cahill said. “Ethics of natural law offer modern Catholic feminists a solid base to seek equality and combat global problems.”
Cahill said human beings must be responsible for each other. Solidarity should extend farther than a neighborhood or community and should cross cultures and religions, she said.
Modern-day slavery, also known as human trafficking, is an important issue facing contemporary feminism, Cahill said.
“We have all this public rhetoric, but at the concrete level, there are more slaves in the world today than ever before,” she said.
In order to increase gender equality, Cahill said the world must value four themes: lifting up women through empowerment and allowing them to prove their own capabilities, focusing on the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, creating cross-cultural dialogue and calling men and women to seek human flourishing for all persons.
“Justice is a virtue that governs right relationships in society,” Cahill said. “Human laws and practices should be based on justice. Justice is rooted in Aquinas’ natural law theory.”
Dr. Joseph Incandela, the Joyce McMahon Hank Aquinas Chair in Catholic Theology, sponsored the symposium.
“Having Aquinas lectures at a Catholic college is a very significant way of calling attention to the ultimate harmony between faith and reason,” Incandela said. “Catholics colleges are founded on that harmony and work on the convergence of this approach with a significant emphasis on education.”