The pope said that this “pastoral stamp” must be placed upon all of Catholic theology. Described as “popular theology,” by starting from “the different contexts and concrete situations in which people are inserted” and allowing itself “to be seriously challenged by reality,” theological reflection can aid in the discernment of the “signs of the times,” the pope wrote.
“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.
The pope’s shift in emphasis in Catholic theology was reflected in the new statutes issued for the Pontifical Academy of Theology. Ad Theologiam Promovendam shifted the 200-year-old institute’s focus from “promoting the dialogue between reason and faith” to promoting “transdisciplinary dialogue with philosophies, sciences, arts, and all other knowledge.” The new statutes place PATH “at the service of academic institutions dedicated to theology and other cultural and knowledge development centers interested in reaching the human person in his context of life and thought.”
The change was welcomed by PATH’s president, Bishop Antonio Staglianò.
“Pope Francis entrusts our Pontifical Academy with a new mission: that of promoting, in every area of knowledge, discussion, and dialogue in order to reach and involve all of the people of God in theological research so that the life of the people becomes theological life,” the Italian prelate said in a press release.
The new statutes call for PATH to facilitate collaboration between Catholic theologians and “those of other Christian confessions or religions.” The academy will also “‘network’ with universities and centers of production of culture and thought” and explore “culturally qualified” ways to propose the Gospel as a life guide to even atheists, a process described in the PATH press release as “wisdom dissemination.”
In harmony with “the magisterium of Pope Francis,” under the new statutes PATH will also exercise a commitment to “intellectual charity” by focusing on the questions and needs of those “on the existential peripheries.”