Pope encourages theologians to advance tradition

During the meeting with the members of the International Theological Commission, created by Paul VI in 1969, the Pope spoke about creative fidelity to tradition. He urges to “assume with faith and love” the commitment to exercise the ministry of theology through a process of ecclesial synodality from which “the ability to listen, to dialogue, to discern” can be born.

Amedeo Lomonaco – Vatican City

Tradition makes the Church grow from bottom to top, like the roots with the tree. But today there is a great danger: that of going backwards, of “backwardnesswhich leads to thinking according to the logic ofwe’ve always done it that way.” Pope Francis underscored this risk during his meeting at the Vatican with members of the International Theological Commission who, he says, “continues, with renewed commitment”, his service “in the path traced by the Second Vatican Council“. The Pontiff, improvising, also exhorted theologians to “go further“. While the catechist must transmit to the children a “sound doctrine” and “no novelties possible”the theologiantry and try again to go further and it will be the Magisterium who will stop it“. For professors of theology, he added, this is a good criterion “to wonder if the theology courses provoke the astonishment of those who follow them“.

Addressing the members of the International Theological Commission, Francis then urged to “increase the number of women, not because they are fashionable“, but because they have “a way of thinking different from that of menand make theologydeeper and tastier.

The Pope and a member of the Commission.

The Pope and a member of the Commission.

Creative fidelity to tradition

Creative fidelity to Tradition, the possibility of cautiously opening up to the contribution of different disciplines and collegiality. These are the three guidelines proposed by the Pope to the International Theological Commission, which is in its tenth five-year term of activity.

Francis’ first piece of advice for moving forward is that of creative fidelity to tradition: “It is a question of assuming and declining faithfully and with love, with rigor and openness, the commitment to exercise the ministry of theology – in listening to the Word of God, to the sensus fidei of the People of God, of the Magisterium and of the charisms, and in the discernment of the signs of the times – for the progress of the apostolic Tradition, under the assistance of the Holy Spirit, as Dei Verbum teaches (cf. n. 8). Indeed, Benedict XVI describes Tradition as “the living river in which the origins are always present” (Catechesis, April 26, 2006); so that it “irrigates the different lands, nourishes the different geographies, making the best of this land sprout, the best of this culture. In this way, the Gospel continues to be incarnated in the four corners of the world, an ever new way”.

The Pope and a member of the International Theological Commission.

The Pope and a member of the International Theological Commission.

Be open to different disciplines

The second orientation concernsthe opportunity, in order to carry out with relevance and incisiveness the work of deepening and inculturation of the Gospel, to open up with prudence to the contribution of the various disciplines through the consultation of experts, even non-Catholics“.

As the Pope requested in the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudiumit is a matter of carefully preserving the principle of interdisciplinarity, not so much in itslow of simple multidisciplinarity, as an approach that promotes a better understanding from several points of view of an object of study; but rather in its strong form of transdisciplinarity, as collocation and fermentation of all knowledge in the space of Light and Life offered by the Wisdom that emanates from the Revelation of God.”


The third guideline, indicated by Pope Francis, is that of collegiality. This acquires particular relevance and can offer a specific contribution in the context of the current synodal journey (2001-1004), in which the whole people of God is summoned. “Like any other Christian vocation, the ministry of the theologian, in addition to being personal, is communal and collegial. Ecclesial synodality therefore commits theologians to do theology in a synodal form, promoting between them the ability to listen, to dialogue, to discern and to integrate the multiplicity and variety of instances and contributions.“explained Francois.

The members of the International Theological Commission met in plenary session to explore three themes: the topicality of the Christological faith professed at the Council of Nicaea, emerging anthropological questions crucial to the journey of the human family and the theology of Creation. from a Trinitarian perspective. In presenting the Commission, Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer pointed out that “the qualified presence of women theologians, reinforced during the previous three five-year terms, has been maintained, a sign of a growing commitment of women in theological sciences“. Among the members of this body, the cardinal added, there is also a lay theologian.

The International Theological Commission

Created in 1969 by Pope Paul VI to “bring precious help to the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles(excerpt from Pope Montini’s speech of October 6, 1969), the International Theological Commission has the task of helping the Holy See to examine doctrinal questions of major importance. Its main objective, Saint John Paul II emphasized in 1994, is to “to permanently pursue the close collaboration between pastors and theologians which characterized the work of the Second Vatican Council“. Another characteristic of this body, as Pope Francis recalled in 2014, is “its international character, which reflects the catholicity of the Church“. Indeed, the Commission is made up of theologians from different countries whose common reference is faith in Jesus Christ.

Pope encourages theologians to advance tradition – Vatican News