Pope Francis says "All men and women have the right to receive the Gospel and Christians have the duty to proclaim it without excluding anyone."

Hall of the Consistory
Friday, June 17, 2022
Pope Francis receives formators from the Archdiocesan Seminary of Milan at the Vatican on Friday.

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I welcome you on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the magazine La Scuola Cattolica, an expression of the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Milan. I greet you, superiors and formators and, through you, also the students and employees of the seminary, as well as the editors and collaborators of the magazine. I thank the Rector for the words he addressed to me.
This anniversary invites us to ask ourselves about the task to which a school of theology is called today and, in particular, about the role of a magazine like yours. I like to imagine that this magazine is a bit like a shop window, where a craftsman exhibits his works and you can admire his creativity. What has matured in the laboratories of the academic classrooms, in the patient exercise of research and reflection, comparison and dialogue, deserves to be shared and made accessible to others. In light of this premise, I would like to tell you three things that I believe are important.
1. Theology is service to the living faith of the Church. Many think that the only usefulness of theological sciences concerns the training of future priests, men and women religious and, if anything, of pastoral workers and teachers of religion. Perhaps in the ecclesial community too much is not expected from theology and ecclesiastical sciences; at times it seems that even the leaders, ministers and pastoral workers do not consider it necessary that lively exercise of the believing intelligence which is instead a precious service to the living faith of the Church.
The community, in fact, needs the work of those who try to interpret the faith, to translate it and retranslate it, to make it understandable, to expose it in new words: a job that must always be done again, every generation. The Church encourages and supports this commitment, the effort to redefine the content of faith in every age, in the dynamism of tradition. And this is why theological language must always be alive, dynamic, it cannot help but evolve and must worry about making itself understood. Sometimes the sermons or catecheses that we listen to are largely made up of moralisms, not "theological" enough, that is, they are not able to speak to us about God and to answer the questions of meaning that accompany people's lives, and which often do not have the courage to formulate openly.
Indeed, one of the greatest ailments of our time is the loss of meaning, and theology, today more than ever, has the great responsibility of stimulating and guiding research, of illuminating the path. Let us always ask ourselves how it is possible to communicate the truths of faith today, taking into account linguistic, social, cultural changes, using the means of communication with competence, without ever watering down, weakening or "virtualizing" the content to be transmitted. When we speak or write, we always keep in mind the link between faith and life, we are careful not to slip into self-referentiality. In particular, you, formators and teachers, in your service to the truth, are called to preserve and communicate the joy of faith in the Lord Jesus, and also a healthy restlessness, that thrill of the heart in front of the mystery of God. seek the more we experience this joy and this restlessness. That is, the more we are "disciples".
2. A theology capable of forming experts in humanity and proximity. The renewal and future of vocations is possible only if there are well-formed priests, deacons, consecrated persons and laity. Each particular vocation is born, grows and develops in the heart of the Church, and the "called" are not mushrooms that sprout suddenly. The hands of the Lord, which model these "clay vessels", work through the patient care of formators and chaperones; they are entrusted with the delicate, expert and competent service of looking after the birth, accompaniment and discernment of vocations, in a process that requires a lot of docility and trust.
Each person is an immense mystery and brings with him his own family, personal, human, spiritual history. Sexuality, affectivity and relatedness are dimensions of the person to be considered and understood by both the Church and science, also in relation to socio-cultural challenges and changes. An open attitude and good testimony allow the educator to "meet" the whole personality of the "called", involving their intelligence, feelings, hearts, dreams and aspirations.
When it is discerned whether a person can undertake a vocational process or not, it is necessary to scrutinize and evaluate him in an integral way: to consider his way of living the affections, the relationships, the spaces, the roles, the responsibilities, as well as his frailties, fears and imbalances. The entire process must activate processes aimed at forming mature priests and consecrated persons, experts in humanity and proximity, and not officials of the sacred. Superiors and seminary formators, accompanying persons and persons in formation themselves are called to grow daily towards the fullness of Christ (cf. the Church's concern for everyone, especially the least and the excluded.

A good formator expresses his service in an attitude that we can call "diakonia of truth", because at stake is the concrete existence of people, who often live without certain certainties, without shared guidelines, under the pounding conditioning of information, often contradictory news and messages, which modify the perception of reality, orienting towards individualism and indifferentism.

Seminarians and young people in formation must be able to learn more from your life than from your words; to be able to learn docility from your obedience, industriousness from your dedication, generosity with the poor from your sobriety and availability, fatherhood from your chaste and non-possessive affection. We are consecrated to serve the People of God, to take care of the wounds of all, starting with the poorest. Suitability for the ministry is linked to availability, joyful and free, towards others. The world needs priests who are able to communicate the goodness of the Lord to those who have experienced sin and failure, of priests who are experts in humanity, of pastors willing to share the joys and labors of their brothers, of men who know how to listen to the cry. of those who suffer (cf. Address to the Community of the Pontifical Regional Seminary of the Marches "Pius XI", 10 June 2021).

3. Theology at the service of evangelization. Dear brothers, at the heart of our ecclesial service is evangelization, which is never proselytizing, but attraction to Christ, favoring the encounter with him who changes your life, who makes you happy and makes you, every day. , a new creature and a visible sign of his love. All men and women have the right to receive the Gospel and Christians have the duty to proclaim it without excluding anyone. All the People of God, pilgrims and evangelizers, proclaim the Gospel because, above all, they are a people on their way to God (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 14; 111). And on this journey he cannot avoid dialogue with the world, with cultures and religions. Dialogue is a form of acceptance and the theology that evangelizes is a theology that is nourished by dialogue and acceptance. Dialogue and the living memory of the witness of love and peace of Jesus Christ are the ways to be followed to build together a future of justice, fraternity and peace for the entire human family.

Let us always remember that it is the Holy Spirit who introduces us into the Mystery and gives impetus to the mission of the Church. This is why the theologian's "habit" is that of a spiritual man, humble of heart, open to the infinite novelties of the Spirit and close to the wounds of poor, discarded and suffering humanity. Without humility the Spirit runs away, without humility there is no compassion, and a theology without compassion and mercy is reduced to a sterile discourse on God, perhaps beautiful, but empty, soulless, unable to serve his will to to incarnate, to be present, to speak to the heart. Because the fullness of truth - to which the Spirit leads - is not such if it is not embodied.

Indeed, teaching and studying theology means living on a frontier, one in which the Gospel meets the real needs of the people. Even good theologians, like good shepherds, smell of the people and the streets and, with their reflection, pour oil and wine on the wounds of many. Neither the Church nor the world needs a “desk” theology, but a reflection capable of accompanying cultural and social processes, in particular difficult transitions, also taking on the responsibility of conflicts. We must beware of a theology that is exhausted in academic dispute or that looks at humanity from a glass castle (cf. Letter to the Grand Chancellor of the Pontificia Universidad Cat├│lica Argentina, 3 March 2015).
The Gospel does not fail to remind us that salt can lose its flavor. And if we live more or less peacefully in the middle of the world, without a healthy restlessness, this may mean that we have warmed up (cf. H. de Lubac, Meditation on the Church: Opera Omnia, vol. 8, Milan 1993, 166). This is why we need a living theology, which gives "flavor" as well as "knowledge", which is the basis of a serious ecclesial dialogue, of a synodal discernment, to be organized and practiced in local communities, for a revival of faith in transformations cultural events of today. May a theology that serves the good life be the main road of your ecclesial commitment, worthy of being exhibited among the beautiful things in the window of your magazine. A theology capable of dialogue with the world, with culture, attentive to the problems of the time and faithful to the evangelizing mission of the Church and also faithful to its roots in the Milan seminary, called to be a place of life, discernment and formation.

Dear brothers, I hope that these reflections can help you to cultivate your vocation of service to the faith, to the Church, to the world. Thank you and I wish you all the best in your work. I cordially bless you and the whole community; and I ask you, please, to pray for me.
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va - Translation from Italian - Image Screenshot Vatican Media