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Friday, December 2, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received participants in the annual plenary session of the International Theological Commission, which has just completed its work under the direction of its president, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  The Holy Father dedicated his remarks to three themes the Commission has been examining in recent years, turning first to consider the question of God and the understanding of monotheism. Benedict XVI recalled how "behind the Christian profession of faith in the one God lies the daily profession of faith of the People of Israel". However, with the incarnation of Jesus Christ, "the monotheism of the one God came to be illuminated with a completely new light: the light of the Trinity, a mystery which also illuminates brotherhood among men". For this reason theology "can help believers to become aware of and bear witness to the fact that Trinitarian monotheism shows us the true face of God, ... and is the source of personal and universal peace".

  The Commission has also been studying the criteria whereby a particular form of theology may be considered as "Catholic". On this subject the Pope explained that "the starting point for all Christian theology lies in personal acceptance of divine revelation, of the Word made flesh", in "listening to the Word of God in Holy Scripture". Nevertheless, the history of the Church shows that "recognition of this starting point is not enough to achieve the unity of the faith. The Bible is always necessarily read in a certain context, and the only context in which the believer can be in full communion with Christ is the Church and her living Tradition".

  Catholic theology, as it has always done over the course of its history, must continue to pay particular attention to the relationship between faith and reason. Today this is more important than ever, said Pope Benedict, "in order to avoid the violent consequences of a religiosity which opposes reason, and a reason which opposes religion".

  Thirdly, the International Theological Commission has been examining the Church's Social Doctrine in the broader context of Christian doctrine. "The Church's social commitment is not a merely human activity", Benedict XVI explained, "nor is just a social theory. The transformation of society by Christians over the centuries has been a response to the coming of the Son of God into the world. ... The disciples of Christ the Redeemer know that no human community can live in peace without concern for others, forgiveness, and love even for one's enemies. ... In our indispensable collaboration for the common good, even with those who do not share our faith, we must explain the true and profound religious motivations for out social commitment. ... People who have understood the foundation of Christian social activity may also find therein a stimulus to consider faith in Jesus Christ".

  In conclusion, the Pope highlighted the Church's great need for theologians' reflections "on the mystery of God in Jesus Christ and of His Church. Without healthy and vigorous theological activity the Church risks failing to give full expression to the harmony between faith and reason".
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