What the world and the Church need today is “a fundamentally contextual theology,” writes Pope Francis in a new Motu Proprio entitled Ad theologiam promovendam.
Published on 1 November 2023, the Motu Proprio updates the statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Theology.
The objective is to ensure that the work of the academy is “more suited to the mission that our times impose on theology”.
Opening up to the world and to humanity, “with its problems, its wounds, its challenges, its potential”, theological reflection must make room for “an epistemological and methodological rethinking”, and is therefore called to “a courageous cultural revolution,” Pope Francis says.
What is needed is “a fundamentally contextual theology” that is “capable of reading and interpreting the Gospel in the conditions in which men and women live daily, in different geographical, social, and cultural environments.”
Theology must “develop in a culture of dialogue and encounter between different traditions and different disciplines, between different Christian denominations and different religions,” Pope Francis continues.
It must engage “openly with all, believers and non-believers alike”.
“This is the approach of transdisciplinarity”, Francis specifies. The Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium explains that this means “situating and stimulating all disciplines against the backdrop of the Light and Life offered by the Wisdom streaming from God’s Revelation.
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 pope insists.
It is a discipline that must not be “abstract and ideological, but spiritual… worked out on one’s knees, pregnant with adoration and prayer; a transcendent discipline and, at the same time, attentive to the voice of the people”.
It is a “popular theology mercifully addressed to the open wounds of humanity and creation and within the folds of human history, to which it prophesies the hope of an ultimate fulfilment.”
Theology, as a whole, must therefore take on a “pastoral stamp”, and theological reflection must start “from the different contexts and concrete situations in which peoples find themselves,” placing itself “at the service of evangelisation.”
Pope: Theology must interpret the Gospel for today’s world (Vatican News)