Vatican City, Mar 12, 2012 / 10:42 am
Catholic theology can be judged by its fidelity to Biblical revelation, the Vatican's International Theological Commission affirmed March 8 in a new document on the role of theologians.
“Theology in its entirety should conform to the scriptures, and the scriptures should sustain and accompany all theological work,” the commission said in its document “Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria.”
Fidelity to scripture is essential, the commission stated, “because theology is concerned with the truth of the Gospel, and it can know that truth only if it investigates the normative witness to it in the canon of sacred Scripture.” Such investigation “relates the human words of the Bible to the living Word of God,” Jesus Christ himself.
The International Theological Commission assists the Vatican's highest doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in its examination of questions about Church teaching. The commission's current president, Cardinal William J. Levada, is also the prefect of the congregation.
Cardinal Levada authorized the release of the new document, which has been in the works since 2004. Attributed to the commission as a whole, the text was drafted in accordance with further studies led by Monsignor Paul McPartlan, a theology professor at the Catholic University of America.
The document begins by acknowledging the growth in new areas of theology following the Second Vatican Council. During the same period, however, there has been “a certain fragmentation of theology,” making it difficult for the discipline to maintain “its own true identity.”
While there is room for a legitimate diversity of theological insights, the Church also needs “a common discourse … to communicate the one message of Christ to the world.”
According to the commission members, true Catholic theology “arises from an attentive listening to the Word of God,” “situates itself consciously and faithfully in the communion of the Church,” and is “orientated to the service of God in the world” through the communication of revealed truth.