MODERN CATHOLIC INTERPRETATIONS OF HISTORY
CATHOLIC thought does not often produce startling changes. In all its forms it emphasizes tradition; and in its Roman form it relies on infallible authority. Although through many centuries the church of Rome showed great variety in philosophy and doctrine, the tendency since the Protestant Reformation has been to solidify its teaching and to define more carefully its authority. In view of some of the narrowing tendencies of the papacy, it was actually a liberalizing move when Pope Leo XIII in 1879 made Thomas Aquinas the authoritative philosopher of the church. This honor to St. Thomas, confirmed by Canon Law in 1917, gave the church a philosophy of broad outlook and high esteem for reason. But it meant also that Roman Catholic thought was henceforth to move in a philosophic tradition of the Middle Ages.
The majority of contemporary Catholic writings are clearly in the Thomist tradition. Their main emphasis is on ethics and metaphysics, and when they deal with history it is essentially along the Thomist lines discussed in Chapter III above. Thus the most massive systematic thought in contemporary Catholicism, that of the German Jesuit Erich Przywara, is a development of scholastic rationalism on the basis of the analogia entis. Nevertheless Thomism is a canopy capable of covering a great diversity of interests and viewpoints, and appearances of uniformity may