In the years following the close of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), many theologians were concerned about the abandonment of a robust theological education in the seminaries and schools. While many of the prominent theologians who played a major part in the council complained about the tendency of their own theological education to involve merely repeating the conclusions of St. Thomas Aquinas or another authority without grasping the heart of their thought and its sources, many of them, such as Fr. Yves Congar, were shocked and disappointed to see the near abandonment of studying the theological masters in the schools.
In a revealing interview conducted by Fr. Patrick Granfield in 1967, Congar lamented the status of theological education. Fr. Granfield asked him, “Do you think that St. Thomas should still be studied in seminaries?” Congar replied:
I am distressed when I see young clerics, sometimes even seminary professors, trying to invent a new synthesis from scratch, to meet the needs of modern man, as they say. However, history has shown us that the first serious study of a subject consists in finding out what has been thought and created before us. If you are a musician, your first step is to study Bach and Mozart. So in theology, we must begin by studying St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. These are the classics. They are not the terminal point but the point of departure and foundation for future work.