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Along another path

Since the close of the Second Vatican Council, one of the core debates which has roiled global Catholicism is the question of the relationship between the Church and the world.

At the heart of this debate are the differences between two great spiritual traditions, one Augustinian and the other Thomistic. The Augustinian tradition places the Church and the world in the position of rivals. It is keenly aware of human sinfulness and the imperfectability of human society. It sees the Church as an island of grace in a sea of sin.

The Thomistic school is far more concerned with the openness of the Church towards the world. It views human history as the arena of divine action. It tends to deny any bifurcation of the world into the ‘sacred’ and the ‘profane’ and sees grace as active and apparent in secular human activity. It bears a positive relationship with modern philosophy and the social sciences.

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