In The New York Times, Peter Steinfels eulogizes Edward Schillebeeckx—(pronounced SKIL-uh-bakes)—one of the architects of the Second Vatican Council, which transformed the Catholic Church in the 1960s:
Like many Catholic theologians who influenced the council, Father Schillebeeckx had reacted against the neo-scholastic theology that the church adopted in the 19th century as a bulwark against hostile modern ideas. Distilled from the thought of Thomas Aquinas but frequently handed on without any examination of Aquinas’s writings or their medieval context, this neo-scholasticism articulated the faith in series of abstract concepts and propositions presented as absolute, ahistorical and immutable.
Father Schillebeeckx found alternative intellectual resources in modern phenomenology, with its meticulous attention to the actual experience of consciousness. And by studying Aquinas in his medieval context, he recovered a Thomism that expounded the presence and mystery of God in far less rationalistic and conceptual ways than did its neo-scholastic versions.
Strong emphases on human experience and on the importance of examining church teaching in historical context became hallmarks of Father Schillebeeckx’s work.
Read more at The New York Times.