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Bartholomew Medina

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Dominican theologian, b. at Medina, 1527; d. at Salamanca, 1581. With Dominico Soto , Melchior Canus, and Dominico Bañez he studied theology at the University of Salamanca under the celebrated professor Francis Vittoria. His life was devoted almost entirely to teaching theology at Salamanca, first in the chair of Durandus, afterwards as principal professor. He was appointed to the "cathedra primaria" after a successful concursus, in public, against the learned Augustinian, John of Guevara. Although he was well versed in Greek and Hebrew, he loved theology more, and all his writings preserved are theological, being principally commentaries on the Summa of St. Thomas. He is usually called the Father of Probabilism. Writers are divided as to his teaching on this important question of moral theology. Some hold that he did not introduce, but merely formulated, Probabilism when he wrote: "It seems to me that if an opinion is probable, it may be followed, even though the opposite opinion be more probable" (I-II, q. xix, a. 6). Others say he proposed that principle in the abstract (speculative), restricting it in practice so that there was no departure from rules of conduct formerly followed. Others still, e.g. Echard, followed by Billuart, maintain that the system proposed by Medina differed greatly from Probabilism as it has been explained by its later defenders, and they cite its definition: "that opinion is probable which is held by wise men and is supported by first-class arguments". Hurter (Nomencl.) writes: "He seems to have led the way to Probabilism ". Echard admits, with Vincent Baron, O.P., that Medina opened the way for a flood of probabilistic theories, and closes with the declaration: St. Thomas is our Master, others only in so far as they follow his teaching. Probabiliorists are unwilling to admit that Medina is against them; probabilists are loath to admit that he proposed a new doctrine, or do not wish to give to him all the credit of introducing a new system for forming the conscience in doubtful cases. The following is a list of his most important works: "Commentaria in primam secundae" (Salamanca, 1577); "Commentaria in tertiam partem, a Q. I ad 60" (Salamanca, 1584); "Breve instruction de comme se ha administrar el sacramento de la penitencia" (Salamanca, 1580).

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