Information and interfaith relations

Today the Church celebrates St Thomas Aquinas, a priest and doctor of the Church. St. Thomas Aquinas lived at the time (1225 – 1274) when the writing of Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE, now considered one of the greatest philosophers) had been rediscovered and became available to people in Europe for the first time in a thousand years. This knowledge of Aristotle came back to Europe through the work of Muslim scholars, who translated Aristotle’s work. 

In engaging with the works of the atheist Aristotle and trusting the works of Muslim scholars (European Catholics were fighting the various Crusade wars between 1096 – 1270), St. Thomas Aquinas showed, in a most significant way, that the truth can come from the most surprising sources.   

Those who follow the See-Judge-Act method (this includes Pope Francis) must thank St. Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle and Muslim scholars (particularly Ibn Rushd or Averroes). Through them (and several others), we have this method of seeking the truth and making decisions.

In his article, “Cardijn’s trinomials: a vision and method of lay apostolate formation“, Stefan Gigacz draws the philosophical lineage of the See-Judge-Act method from Aristotle to Cardijn. 

French Archbishop Emile Guerry also acknowledged the link between the See-Judge-Act and the philosophy of St Thomas:

All chaplains and leaders of Catholic Action should make a profound study of the marvelous tract of St Thomas on Prudence. Prudence is essentially the virtue of action. With his keen psychology, St. Thomas analyses the three acts which make up the exercise of prudence: to deliberate (the small inquiry, the interior counsel which one holds within himself); to judge; to act. Here we easily recognize practically the same three acts of the method of specialized Catholic Action: observe, judge, act.


There is so much information available today that it becomes difficult to determine what is true and what is not. The facts (truth) are no longer clear. There appear to be multiple truths. Society and information are increasingly becoming polarised as they hold on to, defend and promote different truths.  


St. Thomas Aquinas lived in a time of chaos. He did not reject information and truth from sources that could be construed as adversaries to the Church. Instead, he investigated the information through a systematic process. His investigations led to much important work that he became a Doctor of the Church.  


Do we have a systematic approach to seeking the truth to make good decisions? One that allows investigating information without bias or prejudice? One that seeks the truth? 

Let us learn more about the See-Judge-Act method today and practice using it. 


Greg Lopez


Stefan Gigacz, ‘See, judge, act’ more than truth by consensus (Eureka Street)

Joseph Cardijn, The Study Circle and its methods, (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Emile Guerry, Spirituality of Catholic Action (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)


Design drawing for stained glass window with St Thomas Aquinas, heavy-set, with his Summa Theologica (Picryl)