Are Persons with Profound Intellectual Disabilities Sacramental Icons of Heavenly Life? Aquinas on Impairment

Studies in Christian Ethics 26 (1):83-96 (2013)
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Although almost completely ignored, Aquinas’s account of persons with severe intellectual disabilities is key to his understanding of human persons and their salvation. Aquinas extensively addresses questions of human impairment, and for Aquinas physical and mental impairment are not nearly as important as moral or spiritual impairment. Contrary to those who focus on Aquinas’s account of rationality and suppose he thinks that a person must exercise rationality in order to be moral and in the image of God, Aquinas’s view is that persons with severe mental impairments have a distinct spiritual advantage, due to the impeccability of the gift of wisdom given them in their baptism



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John Berkman
Regis College

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