Pope Francis has called for a “courageous cultural revolution” in theology, emphasizing the need for it to interpret the Gospel in the context of today’s world.
The Pontifical Academy of Theology, which was established nearly three centuries ago to serve the Church and the world, is set to undergo significant changes as outlined in the Pope’s Motu Proprio, “Ad theologiam promovendam,” issued November 1, 2023.
The Academy, initially founded by Clement XI in 1718, has evolved over the years to become a group of scholars dedicated to exploring and deepening theological themes relevant to contemporary society.
However, Pope Francis said it is time to adapt the Academy’s mission and regulations to become “more suited to the mission that our times impose on theology”.
The central message of Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio is the call for a theology that is not just introspective but outward-looking, engaging with the world’s challenges, potential, and different cultural contexts.
The Pope emphasizes the necessity for “a fundamentally contextual theology” capable of interpreting the Gospel in the daily lives of people across various geographical, social, and cultural backgrounds.
Crucially, theology must embrace dialogue with different traditions, disciplines, and beliefs, fostering open engagement with believers and non-believers alike.
The Pope refers to this approach as “transdisciplinarity,” emphasizing the integration of theological thought with other forms of knowledge to communicate the truths of faith in contemporary languages effectively.
“Theology can only develop in a culture of dialogue and encounter between different traditions and different knowledge, between different Christian confessions and different religions, openly engaging with everyone, believers, and nonbelievers,” the pope wrote in the apostolic letter.
Theological reflection is not to remain abstract and ideological, but it should have a spiritual dimension, rooted in adoration and prayer.
Pope Francis envisions a “popular theology” that speaks to the sufferings and hopes of humanity and creation, focusing on their ultimate fulfillment.
The pontiff calls for a “pastoral stamp” on theology, with a focus on serving evangelization and addressing the concrete situations and contexts in which people find themselves.
The theology he envisions is deeply rooted in the practical realities of the world, working hand in hand with the people.
“Theology places itself at the service of the evangelization of the Church and the transmission of faith, so that faith becomes culture; that is, the wise ethos of the people of God, a proposal of human and humanizing beauty for all,” the pope wrote.