“Doctrine and pastoral care are tied together. Fleshless theology becomes ideology”


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Without people, theology becomes an ideology, says Francis


Without people, theology becomes an ideology, says Francis

In a video-message addressed to the International Congress of Theology in Buenos Aires, Francis said: “The great fathers of the Church were great theologians because they were great pastors.” And “doctrine is not a closed, private system deprived of dynamics able to raise questions and doubts”

Taken from Vatican Insider ANDREA TORNIELLI
vatican cityDoctrine and pastoral care are linked, just as prayer and life are. They cannot be separated. Francis said this in a video-message sent to the International Congress of Theology in Buenos Aires, which concluded yesterday. The Pope’s carefully thought-out words are also connected in some way to the Synod debate on the family.


“Any attempt, any intention to reduce communication and to break the relationship between the Tradition received and concrete reality places the faith of God’s people at risk,” the Pope said. “To break this communication will easily lead to us turning our outlook and our theology into an ideology.”


Francis then explained that “Christians in today’s Argentina are not the same as they were in in Argentina 100 years ago. Christians live their faith differently in India, in Canada and in Rome. Thus, one of the main tasks of a theologian is to discern and reflect: what does it mean to be a Christian today?, in the “here and now”? How does this river of origins manage to irrigate these lands and become visible and liveable?”


“To make this challenge our own,” the Pope added, “we need to overcome two possible temptations: that of condemning everything, clinging to the phrase “all was better in the past”, taking refuge in conservatism and fundamentalism. Or on the contrary, legitimising everything, diminishing anything that brings nothing new, relativizing all the wisdom of our rich ecclesial heritage. The way to overcoming these temptations is reflection, discernment, taking ecclesial Tradition and reality seriously, creating a dialogue between them.”


“A contrast is often created between theology and pastoral care, as if they were two different and opposing elements that have nothing to do with one another,” the Pope said, giving an illuminating interpretation of many debates that have taken place in recent months. We often identify doctrine with backward conservativism. On the contrary we think of pastoral care in terms of adaptation, reduction and compromise. As if they were not in any way related. This creates a false contrast between the so-called “pastoralists” and “academicists”, those who are on the people’s side and those who support doctrine.” “This creates a false opposition between theology and pastoral care; between Christian reflection and Christian life; in life then, there is no room for reflection and reflection finds no space in life. The great Fathers of the Church, Irenaeus, Augustine, Basil and Ambrose – to name but a few – were great theologians because they were great pastors.”


Doctrine is not a closed, private system deprived of dynamics able to raise questions and doubts. On the contrary, Christian doctrine has a face, a body and flesh in the form of Jesus Christ and it is his Life that is offered through the generations to all men and women around the earth. Looking after the doctrine requires faithfulness to what one has received. At the same time, it means bearing the recipient in mind, knowing them and loving them. This encounter between doctrine and pastoral care is not optional, it is integral to a theology that intends to be ecclesial.”


Hence, “the questions our people pose, their anguish, their quarrels, their dreams, their struggles, their concerns all have hermeneutical value we cannot ignore if we are to take seriously the principal of incarnation. Their questions help us ask ourselves questions, their questions call us into question. All this helps us to delve deeper into the mystery of the Word of God, a Word that demands and calls for dialogue and communication. For this reason, we cannot ignore our people in theology. Our God has chosen this path. He was incarnated in this world that is riddled with war, injustice and violence and home to hopes and dreams.”


“People and their specific conflicts, their peripheries, are not optional, but rather necessary for a better understanding of faith. Therefore, it is important to ask whom we are thinking of when we engage in theology. Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit in a praying people is the subject of theology. A theology that is not born of this would offer something beautiful but not real”.


About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
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One Response to “Doctrine and pastoral care are tied together. Fleshless theology becomes ideology”

  1. ralphcoelho says:

    This is the weakness of specialist in many fields, of Bible Students who do not look beyond the covers of their Bible and see the action of God in the nature around them, if not in their neighbour. Shakespeare saw “books in running brooks”; some of the scientists who developed the atom bomb discovered God in the atom today some see it in the internals of nano technology and quantum theory.

    Vatican II allowed theories to express their views publicly, even did into withdraw the authority to be priests but denied them the right to teach, whether in seminaries or in Church. They instead placed the onus on baptised Catholics to apply their own minds in judging the accuracy of these dissenters views. A striking contemporary example is that of the two Hitchens brothers – one an articulate unbeliever who condemned the tyranny of the Church and the other an equally ardent apologist for the faith.

    Personally, unless there is other evidence, I accept these dissenters as being honest in their beliefs. I respond to their arguments as dispassionately as possible as an intellectual exercise ; I believe that they are a test for us as much as the poor and oppressed and imprisoned and sick and dying are a challenge to the godliness that is implanted by the ‘breath’ of God when we are conceived. I see traces of this godliness, this spirit of God showing up in young children and young adducts who are confused by the ambivalence, or dishonesty, of their own loved ones in following the spirit of the law that they a teach. These youngsters are better educated by these loved ones and have still not compromised with their consciences. They choose to choose their own way rather than condemn their loved ones.

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