Thomas Bouquillon

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Thomas Bouquillon (16 May 1840 in Warneton, Belgium – 5 November 1902 in Brussels, Belgium) was a Belgian Catholic theologian. At the time of his death he was professor of moral theology in the Catholic University of America.

He was one of the most eminent theologians of his time, a man of prodigious erudition in theology, history of theology, church history, canon law, and bibliography. Bouquillon was active and influential in the organization of the Catholic Universities of Lille and Washington. He supported the views of Archbishop John Ireland[1] and Edward McGlynn.[2] He warned against appeals to Rome in moral matters when that substituted for grappling with the issues.[3]


The second son among five children in a family of small landholders long established at Warneton near Ypres, he received his early education in local schools and in the College of St. Louis at Menin. His course in philosophy was made at Roeselare; in theology, at the seminary of Bruges.[4]

Having entered the Georgian University in Rome, in 1863, he was ordained priest in 1865 and made doctor of theology in 1867. After ten years in the Bruges seminary (1867–77) and eight years in the Catholic University of Lille, France, as professor of moral theology, Bouquillon retired to the Benedictine monastery at Maredsous and devoted his energies to the preparation of the second edition of his treatise on fundamental moral theology.[4]

In 1892 he accepted the chair of moral theology in the Catholic University at Washington, D.C., where he remained until his death in 1902.[4]


Though never in robust health, he was a tireless student. When he entered the field of moral theology he found the science enjoying no prestige, dwindled to mere compilations of conclusions to the neglect of principles. It was out of touch, consequently, with the closely related dogmatic and advancing social sciences, and the methods employed in teaching it were far from perfect. In his whole career as professor and author he aimed to rescue moral theology from that condition and to restore to it its proper method and dignity.

He emphasized strongly the historical and sociological aspects of principles and problems in the science. Possibly few theologians of his day were more widely consulted in Europe and America than Bouquillon. He enjoyed and retained the intimate confidence of Pope Leo XIII and of many eminent churchmen, and showed throughout his life devotion to the ideals, teaching, and administration of the Church. His grasp of current thought developed in him an open-mindedness and a sympathy with real progress.

In 1891 he was induced to publish a pamphlet on education setting forth the abstract principles involved. His views met with considerable opposition. In fact his works on education caused substantial controversy, since he had supported the State's claims in the field.[5][6] In all his published replies to critics he maintained his original positions without any modification whatever and ascribed the opposition to misunderstanding of his point of view and of his statement of principles.

He published:

  • "Theologia Moralis Fundamentalis" (3d ed., Bruges, 1903);
  • "De Virtutibus Theologicis" (2d ed. Bruges, 1890);
  • "De Virtute Religionis" (2 vols., Bruges, 1880);
  • "Education" (Baltimore, 1892);
  • "Education, a Rejoinder to Critics" (Baltimore, 1892);
  • "Education, a Rejoinder to the 'Civilatà Cattolica'" (Baltimore, 1892); the last three of these were translated into French.

He published many critical studies in the "Revue des sciences ecclésiastiques", of which he was at one time editor, in the "Nouvelle revue théologique", the "Revue Bénédictine", "The American Catholic Quarterly", and "The Catholic University Bulletin". He edited, with notes and comments,

  • Stapleton, "De Magnitudine Ecclesiæ Romanæ" (Bruges, 1881);
  • 'Leonis XIII Allocutiones, Epistolæ aliaque acta" (2 vols., Bruges, 1887);
  • Platelii, "Synopsis cursus Theologiæ" (Bruges);
  • "Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini" (Tournai, 1890);
  • "Dies Sacerdotalis" of Dirckinck (Tournai, 1888);
  • Louis de Grenade, "L'Excellence de la très sainte Eucharistic" (Lille);
  • Coret, "L'Année sainte" (1676) (Bruges, 1889).

See also[edit]


  • Rommel, "Thomas Bouquillon, Notice bio-bibliographique" (Brussels, 1903); The Catholic University Bulletin (1903), IX, 152-163.


  1. ^ Phantom Heresy? Americanist Crisis and the U.S. Roman Catholic Church
  2. ^ The Origins of Moral Theology in the United States: Three Different Approaches - Review | Cross Currents | Find Articles at
  3. ^ Charles E. Curran, The Catholic Moral Tradition Today: A Synthesis (1999), p. 203.
  4. ^ a b c Kerby, William. "Thomas Bouquillon." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 24 Feb. 2014
  5. ^ Thomas C. Hunt, Thomas Oldenski, Theodore Joseph Wallace, Catholic School Leadership: An Invitation to Lead (2000), note p. 154.
  6. ^ James H. Moynihan, The Life of Archbishop John Ireland (1976), p. 86.

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.