Emergent Catholicity: Forming the Mind of Vincent

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Vincent de Paul has been perceived as anti-intellectual for reasons that are discussed in this article, but his two degrees, especially the one from the University of Toulouse, profoundly influenced his thinking. His education developed his logic, making him “a formidable theologian,” an excellent organizer, and an effective advocate for poor persons. The article traces the medieval university’s influence on Vincent’s university experience. Logic’s importance in the theology curriculum and the way it was taught are described. Since Vincent’s degree allowed him to teach from the seminal Book II of Peter Lombard’s Sentences, Lombard’s writings are contextualized within those of two other scholastic thinkers, Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas. Scholasticism examined disparate perspectives with the goal of integrating them into a whole truth. This was a step toward understanding complete truth of God. Vincent’s application of the scholastic method is illustrated with issues he faced in his work and with his response to Jansenism. His education gave him “a comprehensive understanding of Catholic theology, the capacity to engage viewpoints different from his own, and the . . . intellectual mastery required to articulate sophisticated concepts in ways that were understandable to people who did not have his educational background.”

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Vincentian Heritage Journal