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Catholic Dictionary




Theological system of Francesco Suarez (1548-1617), Spanish Jesuit scholar and writer, named Doctor Eximius by Pope Benedict XIV. Building on the principles of St. Thomas Aquinas, Suarez, developed a coherent system of his own. Typical of his approach is to cite extensively from the sources he uses and his stress on history as an important factor in development of doctrine. In Suarezianism, essence and existence are in the real existing things, and not distinguished as potency and act; the intellect has a certain natural intuition of the individual; prime matter has more actuality than in Aquinas, for whom it is pure potency; also the principle of individuation is not in the matter but because something exists as this being; on the relationship between grace and free will, Suarezianism favors what has come to be known as congruism, placing more stress on human freedom thatn in the Thomistic theory of Bannezianism. Suarez is the acknowledged source of the philosophy of natural rights, the law of nations and constitutional law as these have developed in modern times among Christian philosophers as opposed to the divine right of kings. The power to govern in civil society, on Suarezian principles, originates with God's will. But the designation of who will exercise this power is indicated, since the New Testament, by the decision of the people.