Pope Francis: A New Missionary Vision for the Academy of Theology
Analysis of Motu Proprio ‘Ad theologiam promovendam’ and the Pope’s call for a prophetic, dialogical and pastoral theology
On Nov. 1, 2023, Pope Francis issued the Motu Proprio “Ad theologiam promovendam,” revolutionizing the Statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Theology to meet the needs of the synodal and missionary Church. The update marks a “courageous cultural revolution” so that theology becomes prophetic and dialogical, enlightened by Revelation, in tune with the present.
The Academy, established by Clement XI in 1718, has been called to evolve, becoming a group of scholars committed to theological deepening. Now, Pope Francis argues that it is time to revise the norms to adapt them to the contemporary mission of theology. Theological reflection must open itself to the world, addressing the daily challenges of humanity.
The Apostolic Letter stresses the need for an “outgoing” theology, capable of prophetically interpreting the present and identifying new future itineraries in light of Revelation. The Pope emphasizes the call for a “fundamentally contextual theology,” capable of reading the Gospel in different geographical, social and cultural realities.
Theology, according to the Motu Proprio, must embrace the culture of dialogue, openly confronting different Christian traditions, disciplines and confessions. Transdisciplinarity is key, incorporating contributions from other knowledge to communicate the truths of faith in contemporary languages.
Pope Francis stresses the importance of a pastoral approach in theology, requiring a “pastoral stamp” that starts from the concrete contexts and situations of daily life. Theology must become a critical, spiritual knowledge that is attentive to peoples’ voices.
The president of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, Monsignor Antonio Staglianò, welcomes this new mission as an invitation to involve all God’s people in theological research, transforming the life of the people into theological life. In summary, the Pope’s Motu Proprio promotes a theology that embraces the present with hope and compassion, aimed at the Church’s evangelizing mission in today’s world.
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