Francisco De Suarez

1548-1617. Spanish Jesuit philosopher and theologian. Probably the greatest of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Scholastics, and perhaps even the greatest Jesuit theologian, he was born at Granada, studied canon law at Salamanca (1561-64), but after joining the Jesuits turned to theology and philosophy (1565-71). He was ordained in 1572 after he had already begun a lifelong career of teaching in Spanish universities (except for a five-year period at the Roman College from 1580). His last and longest appointment was as professor primarius at Coimbra (1597-1615).

Suárez published widely and made original contributions in legal and political theory, philosophy, and theology. His political and juridical doctrine is found primarily in De legibus (1612) and the polemical Defensio fidei... adversus anglicanae sectae errores (1613). With Francisco de Vitoria he helped lay the basis for international law, positing a natural community of nations whose relations are regulated by the “law of nations” (jus gentium)-a sort of natural/public law for the international community. His political doctrine is based on man's natural rights and on the idea that the people form the basis of political authority. He thus repudiated James I's* theory of divine right.* He held that the pope may depose for reasons of heresy (as a matter of Christian law), but may not violate a nation's natural rights.

His Metaphysical Disputations (1597?) combined Aristotelian and Thomistic logic with Scotist objections, producing a philosophical text widely used in Protestant and Catholic schools alike throughout the seventeenth century, and creating the system sometimes called “Suárezianism” or “Suarism.” In theology, though basically a commentator on Aquinas's Summa, he contributed to the bitter Jesuit-Dominican dispute over the role and efficacy of grace on the side of the Jesuits, proposing a system known as “Congruism”-that God disposes an individual to salvation by giving congruent graces which by foreknowledge He sees will be useful in a given situation.

Opera (23 vols., 1740-51) and with additional material (28 vols., 1856-78); L. Mahieu, Francois Suarez, sa philosophie et les rapports qu'elle a avec sa théologie (1921); J.H. Fichter, Man of Spain (1940); J. Mullavey, Suárez on Human Freedom (1950); B. Hamilton, Political Thought in Sixteenth-Century Spain (1963).