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Hittinger Examines Beatitudes in Rome, Meets Pope Again

Pope Francis with PASTA AttendeesThe University of St. Thomas’ Dr. John Hittinger, professor of philosophy, joined 20 other scholars who are members of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, in Rome in June to discuss Aquinas’ analysis of the Beatitudes, which included a visit with Pope Francis.

“Pope Francis requested we do a conference on the Beatitudes because that is a special interest to him,” Hittinger said.

Pope Francis will reflect on the Beatitudes during World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland.

Hittinger presented an article addressing the second Beatitude, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” His article was well received. Fernando Cardinal Sebastian Aguilar, the archbishop of Pamplona, particularly enjoyed Hittinger’s article, and they spoke about it via a translator.

“He liked it because he agreed that there was a problem of anger in modern society,” Hittinger said. “As a Bible scholar he had some great insights into the meaning of the phrase, ‘The meek shall inherit the earth.”

During his stay in Rome, Hittinger was afforded another opportunity to meet the Holy Father, Pope Francis. This is his second time meeting the Holy Father in as many years. They met him after the angelus in front of the Pope’s residence.

Pope Francis made time to speak to each member individually.

“I blurted out, ‘Papa Francisco, I love you!’ He grabbed my hand and said ‘Please pray for me,’” Hittinger said.  “I looked in his eyes; he looked tired. He had a long schedule and had just met with the Italian Mafia telling them they were excommunicating themselves with their pursuit of evil.”

Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas with Pope FrancisHittinger is a corresponding academician within the academy. As such, he is invited to participate in the work of the organization on an on-going basis. He also works with the Most Rev. Marcelo Sanchez Sorrondo, secretary prelate of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, to raise money for the purpose of facilitating travel for international members.

The Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas’ mission is to research into, defend and disseminate the doctrine of Aquinas, taking into account contemporary culture and tradition.  A copy of Hittinger’s talk can be found on his website,

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