David Abalos

Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Christian Doctrine (MACD)




When St. Thomas wrote the Summa Theologiae he never intended that someone should go the that corpus and extract a theology of priesthood. His intention was to write a unified exposition of the movement of God toward man and man's response to that Divine initiative in and through Christ. Within the whole of this context, St. Thomas dealt with priesthood. If we keep this total view in mind, we can intelligently construct a meaningful theology of priesthood as found in the Summa.

In order to remain faithful to Thomas's teaching, great care was taken not to read into his thought any current trends aimed at the renewal of priesthood in the Church, Thomas was a man of his age; he learned and expressed himself in a cultural milieu which is no more. His assumptions and presuppositions are those of a highly organized Structure of society seeking the ultimate meaning of all things in the unity of God. This attitude plus earlier Greek and Arabic influences led to an all-pervading hierarchical cosmology. These influences must all be considered if we are to properly evaluate Thomas's teaching on priesthood. Finally we shall have to examine scholasticism; that structure of intellectual endeavor (which incorporated in itself and reflected the quest for a synthesis. In its turn scholasticism did not arise in a vacuum but within the complex folds of the new universities. What Thomas gave to us cannot be understood outside of this historical perspective.