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Fr. Leobardo Almazán, O.P., Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Aquinas Institute of Theology, attended the July 2014 International Conference on The Foundations of Liberalism and Human Rights, The Continual Relevance of the School of Salamanca, organized by Domuni Universitas and the San Esteban School of Theology, University of Salamanca, Spain, in order to present a paper entitled, "Critical Analysis of the Modern Theory of Human Rights: Lack of a Coherent Theoretical Framework".

Twenty experts in the fields of philosophy, theology, history, political science and law, and harking from a variety of nationalities and continents, attended the Conference as a part of the celebration of the Jubilee of the Order of Preachers (eighth centenary).  This public event worked to relate university research to contemporary questions, including: How to think about world issues today in the light of philosophy and theology.

The School "of Salamanca", started by the teaching of the Dominican Francisco de Vitoria (1483-1546) and spread by his followers, was involved in the revival of Thomism in the sixteenth century. It was rooted in how the legacy of Thomas Aquinas' political thought helped the understanding of the immense anthropological and political issues surrounding the discovery of the New World. In the twenty-first century, on the initiative of the Order of Preachers, the "Salamanca Process" (Acts of the General Chapter of Trogir¸ July 2013) aims to refresh the problematic, keeping alive the memory of the method of analysis and results of the research of the theologian-jurists of the sixteenth century.

Conference objectives were as follows:

  • To (re)discover the biblical, theological and anthropological sources of modern political thought, specifically in studying the place of the School of Salamanca in the emergence of the political and legal corpus, afterwards called "liberalism". What freedom are we talking about?
  • To question the universality of fundamental rights and of the authorities expected to promote and protect them;
  • To analyze in this light the contemporary ideas of governance, democracy, economic liberalism, free trade, international trade, and international institutions;
  • To review the reception of the School of Salamanca in various cultural and intellectual fields. What is the perception of human rights (called universal) worldwide? What are the political forces and competing ideas? Are human rights and democracy synonymous?

(Pictured Above): Fr. Leobardo Almazán, O.P., Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Aquinas Institute of Theology, presenting an important human rights paper at an international conference.

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