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Is the Human Person Naturally Religious?

An altar dedicated to St. Thomas Aquinas in the Convento de San Esteban, a Dominican monastery in Salamanca, Spain.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In May 2017, BQO’s M. Anthony Mills visited Fr. Thomas Joseph White, a Dominican priest, theologian, and leading scholar of St. Thomas Aquinas, the famous thirteenth-century Dominican philosopher and theologian. Fr. Thomas Joseph lives and teaches at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., across the street from the National Basilica and the Catholic University of America.

The topic of their conversation was whether the human person is naturally religious — that is, whether the religious impulse springs from human nature or comes to us from without, from God or from society. According to Fr. White, this question has more than academic interest; how we answer it will influence the way we understand and participate in religious and political life: