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Friday, December 5, 2014

The Pope reminds the Theological Commission of the importance of listening to the People of God

Vatican City, 5 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received the members of the International Theological Commission (CIT), whose president is Cardinal Gerhard L. Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Commission was established shortly after Vatican Council II following the request by the Synod of Bishops in order to enable the Holy See to make more direct use of the reflection of theologians from various parts of the world. The mission of the Commission is therefore that of “examining doctrinal questions of major importance”, especially those that present new aspects and, in this way, of offering assistance to the Magisterium of the Church.

This mission, as Francis remarked, presupposes not only intellectual competences but also spiritual dispositions; among the latter, the Pope focused in particular on listening. He cited the passage from Ezekiel: “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you”, emphasising that “the theologian is, above all, a believer who listens to the living Word of God and welcomes it into his heart and mind … but he must also humbly listen to what the Spirit tells the Church through the different manifestations of faith lived by the People of God”.

Indeed, this activity is mentioned in the recent document of the Commission on “The sensus fide in the life of the Church”. The Pope continued, “Along with the Christian people, the theologian opens his eyes and ears to the signs of the times. He or she is required to “hear, distinguish and interpret the many voices of our age, and to judge them in the light of the divine word, so that revealed truth can always be more deeply penetrated, better understood and set forth to greater advantage”.

In this light, the Pope expressed his satisfaction at the increasingly diverse composition of the Commission, in particular the presence of women, “a presence that is an invitation to reflect on the role that women can and should occupy in the field of theology”, and the contribution that they bring to “the intelligence of faith”.

Another aspect of the Commission is its international character, which reflects “the Catholicity of the Church”. Therefore, “the diversity of points of view must enrich Catholicity without prejudice to unity”, since “the unity of Catholic theologians derives from their common reference to a single faith in Christ and is nurtured by the diversity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit”. “Starting from this foundation in a healthy pluralism, various theological approaches, developed in different cultural contexts and using different methods, cannot ignore each other, but must enrich and correct each other in theological dialogue”.

The Holy Father commented that “the Virgin is a teacher of authentic theology” since, as a “privileged witness to the great events of salvation history”, she “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart”. “Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and with all the resources of her female wisdom, she never ceased to further enter into 'all the truth'. Mary is therefore the icon of the Church who, anxiously awaiting her Lord, progresses day after day in the intelligence of faith, thanks to the patient work of theologians, male and female”.

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