Problem with Non-Thomistic Vatican II Era Idea called "Personalism": "Perishing with a 'Personalist' Whimper... personhood... becomes the vehicle for the substitution of man's becoming for God's Being"
"But personhood if it is not fully subjected to Being and the objective Nature of God becomes the vehicle for the substitution of man's becoming for God's Being.' - James Larson
Here is small part of Catholic scholar James Larson's Christian Order article titled "The Heart of the Betrayal." This is one of the best short essays on the problem with the Vatican II era idea call "Personalism":
In his rather massive (960 page) biography of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope, George Weigel has the following to say in regard to Pope John Paul II's appointment of Joseph Ratzinger to the position of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
Those willing to look beyond the caricature [of Ratzinger as a gloomy Inquisitor] when Ratzinger was appointed Prefect of CDF could find several important clues to John Paul II's thinking about the Church's post-conciliar theological situation.
….Ratzinger's appointment also suggested that the Pope wanted CDF to interact with the international theological community in a thoroughly contemporary way. John Paul did not appoint a medievalist or a patristics scholar as Prefect of CDF. He appointed a theologian who had been deeply and critically engaged with contemporary philosophy and ecumenical theology.
Cardinal Ratzinger was the first man in his position in centuries who did not take Thomas Aquinas as his philosophical and theological master
Perishing with a "personalist" whimper
It is no wonder, therefore, that this entire philosophical movement is called "Personalism." It is not a malicious thing, at least on the surface. It appears to emphasize the Person of Jesus, the Person of the Holy Spirit, the Person of the Father, and the personal manner of each individual's sanctification as being created in the image of God. This is all true, and we certainly need this emphasis. But personhood if it is not fully subjected to Being and the objective Nature of God becomes the vehicle for the substitution of man's becoming for God's Being.
Underneath all of this promotion of "person" as being the fundamental category of philosophy is a terrible cowardly betrayal of the very Being of God and man. It is nothing less than a wholesale retreat from Who God Is as taught by Catholic metaphysics and theology.
And, tragically, what is not realized is that without the basis of God's Supreme Being found in Thomistic metaphysics, this "Personalism" is being ravaged because it is a philosophical home built on sand. How many documents and millions of words we have had from our Church during the past four decades concerning the dignity of the human person and the family. Yet how ravaged the family has become, and how "undignified" is the "new philosophical category of person" in the face of hundreds of millions of abortions.
I believe it was T.S. Elliot who said that the world will perish neither by water nor fire, but with a whimper. It may be possible, however, that in its spiritual life it will first perish with the hugs of millions of persons in some sort of relationship conceived as personal love.
Go to Thomas!
All of this need not be. The great tragic mistake of the Phenomenologists and Personalists is their belief, as we have already noted, that the God of Thomistic philosophy is "self-enclosed" and therefore cannot be satisfying to the desperate aspirations of modern man. It is as though they have never read the Summa Theologica. To do so, and to spend time meditating on the Nature of God set forth particularly in the first part of that marvelous work, is to come to an appreciation why St. Thomas spent much time resting his head upon the Tabernacle. Pope Pius XI, in Studiorum Ducem, writes:
"This humility, therefore, combined with the purity of heart We have mentioned, and sedulous devotion to prayer, disposed the mind of Thomas to docility in receiving the inspirations of the Holy Ghost and following His illuminations, which are the first principles of contemplation. To obtain them from above, he would frequently fast, spend whole nights in prayer, lean his head in the fervour of his unaffected piety against the tabernacle containing the august Sacrament, constantly turn his eyes and mind in sorrow to the image of the crucified Jesus; and he confessed to his intimate friend St. Bonaventura that it was from that Book especially that he derived all his learning. It may, therefore, be truly said of Thomas what is commonly reported of St. Dominic, Father and Lawgiver, that in his conversation he never spoke but about God or with God.
…."The aim of the whole theology of St. Thomas is to bring us into close living intimacy with God."
Where were the minds and hearts of these older philosophers and theologians like Cardinal Ratzinger when they were studying St. Thomas (as they surely did)?
In Part I, Question 6, Article 1of the Summa, for instance, we read: "All things by desiring their own perfection, desire God Himself, in as much as the perfections of all things are so many similitudes of the divine being." This means, for instance, that the desire of a young woman for love and fulfillment may be relatively fulfilled by a husband and children, but can only be fully realized in love of God; that all of the aspirations of a young person to rid their lives of confusion and frustration, and to be firmly established in all truth and certainty, are only satisfied in the wisdom of which we are speaking; that only by understanding what is taught about God by the Church and St. Thomas can all those questions of the human heart as to why there is evil and suffering in the world be answered .
It also means that what is genuine in the thirst of an alcoholic, the hunger of obesity, the lust of an adulterer, the cynicism of a prostitute, the rage of a killer, the ennui of an existentialist, the honest contempt of Christian hypocrisy by the atheist, can only be understood and turned to good through that wisdom. For there is no sentiment, aspiration, doubt, confusion, temptation. weakness, or sin in this generation or any other - past, present, or future - it cannot satisfy, solve or overcome. This will always be true as long as there is openness in the human heart to receive the truth. If that openness be not there, then no amount of personal condescension to human weakness by God, Pope, Father, or Mother will ever bring a child of this world back to God and His Love and Truth.
The only reason I can see for these "modern" philosophers having found some sort of justification for making God "entirely relational," therefore, was a need on their part to bring God down to an earth which they think is more profound than Heaven.
It may just be possible that Europe and much of the West, having gone through two Word Wars and all the assaults against Christian civilization over the past several centuries, has been so nailed to a cross of weariness and pain that it can no longer accept a God Who does not acknowledge the superior depths of man's suffering. God's objective Being, in their minds, must now give way before the aspirations and demands of modern man suffering on the cross of his own sins. The passion of sinful man, to such people, has become ontologically more real than the suffering Love of God.
Such philosophy is indeed a "winter of discontent." Any springtime of renewal must entail its rejection, and a complete return to the wisdom of St. Thomas. [https://christianorder.com/features/feature_2003-11_b.html]
Pray an Our Father now for reparation for the sins committed because of Francis’s Amoris Laetitia.