In a new Motu Proprio, “Ad theologiam promondam”, the Successor of Peter updates the Statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Theology
From the newsroom, with Vatican News
Photo: Guglielmo Mangiapane – Reuters
“A synodal, missionary and ‘outgoing’ Church can only correspond to an ‘outgoing’ theology” that can “prophetically interpret the present” predicting “new itineraries for the future, in the light of Revelation”. From this perspective, Pope Francis, with the Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio Ad theologiam promondam, dated November 1, 2023, decided to update the statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. Canonically instituted by Clement XI on April 23, 1718, with the brief Inscrutabilito “put theology at the service of the Church and the world”, the Academy has evolved over the years as a “group of scholars called to investigate and deepen theological themes of particular relevance”.
Now, for the Pontiff, it is time to review the norms that regulate its activities “to make them more appropriate to the mission that our time imposes on theology”. Opening itself to the world and to man, “with its problems, its wounds, its challenges, its potential”, theological reflection must open space for “an epistemological and methodological rethinking”, being, therefore, called for “a courageous cultural revolution ”. What is needed is “a fundamentally contextual theology,” writes the Pope, “capable of reading and interpreting the Gospel in the conditions in which men and women live daily, in different geographic, social and cultural environments.”
Dialogue with different traditions and disciplines
Theology must “develop in a culture of dialogue and encounter between different traditions and different knowledge, between different Christian confessions and different religions”, specifies the Apostolic Letter, it must confront itself “openly with all believers and non-believers.” “It is the approach of transdisciplinarity”, specifies Francisco, which must be thought about — clarifies the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium — “as the placement and fermentation of all knowledge in the space of Light and Life offered by the Wisdom that emanates from the Revelation of God”. For this reason, theology must “make use of new categories developed by other forms of knowledge, in order to penetrate and communicate the truths of faith and transmit the teaching of Jesus in today’s languages, with originality and critical awareness”.
The “pastoral seal”
Then, there is the contribution that theology can make “to the current debate of ‘rethinking thought’, showing itself to be true critical knowledge insofar as it is sapiential knowledge”, a knowledge that should not be “abstract and ideological, but spiritual”, emphasizes Francisco, “made on knees, pregnant with adoration and prayer; a transcendent knowledge and, at the same time, attentive to the voice of the people”. It is a “popular theology” that the Pope calls for, “mercifully directed to the open wounds of humanity and creation and within the folds of human history, for which it prophesies the hope of a final fulfillment.” In practice, for Francisco, theology, as a whole, must assume a “pastoral seal” and, therefore, theological reflection must start “from the different contexts and concrete situations in which people are inserted”, placing itself “at the service of evangelization.”
Dom Staglianò: a new mission that involves all the people of God
It is a new mission, says the president of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, Dom Antonio Staglianò, “to promote, in all spheres of knowledge, confrontation and dialogue to reach and involve all the people of God in theological research, so that the life of the people can become theological life.”