Pope Francis Tells Theologians "I believe that perhaps it would be important to increase the number of women...because they think differently from men and make theology something deeper..." FULL TEXT

Hall of the Consistory
Thursday, November 24, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I thank Cardinal Ladaria for his courteous words and I express my gratitude to all of you for the generosity, competence and passion with which you have undertaken your service in this tenth five-year period of activity of the International Theological Commission.
Thanks to the tools we have at our disposal today, you have been able to start your work remotely, overcoming the difficulties still caused by the pandemic. And I am also delighted at the reception you have reserved for the proposals of the three themes to be explored: the first is the indispensable and always fruitful relevance of the Christological faith professed by the Council of Nicaea, at the 1700th anniversary of its celebration (325-2025 ); the second is the examination of some anthropological questions emerging today and of crucial significance for the journey of the human family, in the light of the divine plan of salvation; and the third is the deepening - today increasingly urgent and decisive - of the theology of creation in a Trinitarian perspective, listening to the cry of the poor and of the earth.

By addressing these issues, the International Theological Commission continues its service with renewed commitment. You are called to carry it out in the wake traced out by the Second Vatican Council, which - sixty years after its inception - constitutes the sure compass for the journey of the Church, "the sacrament, in Christ, of union with God and of the unity of all mankind" (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 1).
I would like to show you three directions of march, in this historical moment; arduous moment yet, for the gaze of faith, charged with the promise and hope that flow from the Easter of the crucified and risen Lord.
The first guideline is that of creative fidelity to Tradition. It is a question of assuming with faith and love and of declining with rigor and openness the commitment to exercise the ministry of theology - listening to the Word of God, the sensus fidei of the People of God, the Magisterium and the charisms, and in discerning of the signs of the times – for the progress of the Apostolic Tradition, under the assistance of the Holy Spirit, as taught by Dei Verbum (cf. n. 8). Indeed, Benedict XVI describes Tradition as "the living river in which the origins are always present" (Catechesis, April 26, 2006); so that it "irrigates different lands, feeds different geographies, making the best of that land, the best of that culture, germinate. In this way, the Gospel continues to be incarnated in all corners of the world, in an ever new way" (Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium, 4d).
Tradition, the origin of faith, which either grows or fades.
Because, one said – I think it was a musician – that tradition is the guarantee of the future and not a museum piece. It is what makes the Church grow from the bottom up, like a tree: the roots. Instead, another said that traditionalism is the "dead faith of the living": when you close yourself off. Tradition - I want to underline this - makes us move in this direction: from down to up: vertical. Today there is a great danger, which is to go in another direction: "backwardism". Going back. “It has always been done this way”: it is better to go backwards, which is safer, and not to go forward with tradition. This horizontal dimension, as we have seen, has prompted some movements, ecclesial movements, to remain fixed in a time, in a backwards. They are the backwards. I am thinking - to make a historical reference - of some movement born at the end of Vatican I, trying to be faithful to tradition, and so today they develop in order to order women, and other things, outside this vertical direction, where the moral conscience grows, the awareness of faith grows, with that beautiful rule of Vincent of LĂ©rins: "ut annis consolidatetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate". This is the rule of growth. Instead, backwardness leads you to say that "it's always been done this way, it's better to go on like this", and it doesn't let you grow. On this point, you theologians think a little about how to help.
The second guideline concerns the opportunity, in order to pertinently and incisively carry out the work of deepening and inculturating the Gospel, to be prudently open to the contribution of the various disciplines thanks to the consultation of experts, including non-Catholic ones, as envisaged by the Statutes of the Commission (cf. n. 10). It is a question - I hoped for it in the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium - of treasuring the «principle of interdisciplinarity: not so much in its "weak" form of simple multidisciplinarity, as an approach that favors a better understanding from multiple points of view of an object of study; but rather in its "strong" form of transdisciplinarity, as the collocation and fermentation of all knowledge within the space of Light and Life offered by the Wisdom that emanates from God's Revelation» (n. 4c).
Finally, the third guideline is that of collegiality. It acquires particular relevance and can offer a specific contribution in the context of the synodal process, in which the entire People of God is summoned. This is underlined by the document elaborated in this regard, in the previous five years, on Synodality in the life and mission of the Church: « As with any other Christian vocation, the theologian's ministry, in addition to being personal, is community and collegial. Ecclesial synodality therefore commits theologians to do theology in synodal form, promoting among them the ability to listen, dialogue, discern and integrate the multiplicity and variety of requests and contributions" (n. 75).
Theologians must go further, try to go further. But I want to distinguish this from the catechist: the catechist must give the right doctrine, solid doctrine; not any novelties, some of which are good, but what is solid; the catechist transmits solid doctrine. The theologian risks going further, and it will be the magisterium that will stop him. But the vocation of the theologian is always to take the risk of going further, because he is searching, and he is trying to make theology more explicit. But never give catechesis to children and people with new doctrines that are not sure. This distinction is not mine, it belongs to St. Ignatius of Loyola, who I believe understood something better than me!
I therefore wish you, in this spirit of mutual listening, dialogue and community discernment, open to the voice of the Holy Spirit, a serene and fruitful work. The topics entrusted to your attention and expertise are of great importance in this new stage of the proclamation of the Gospel that the Lord calls us to live as a Church at the service of universal brotherhood in Christ. Indeed, they invite us to fully assume the gaze of the disciple who, with ever new amazement, recognizes that Christ, "precisely by revealing the mystery of the Father and of his love, also fully reveals man to himself and manifests to him his supreme vocation” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 22); and thus He teaches us that "the fundamental law of human perfection, and therefore also of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love" (ibid., 38). And I used the word “astonishment”. I think it is important, perhaps not so much for researchers, but certainly for theology professors: to ask ourselves whether theology lessons cause astonishment in those who follow them. This is a good criterion, it can help.
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for your precious, truly precious service. I heartily bless each one of you and your collaborators. And I ask you please to pray for me.
I believe that perhaps it would be important to increase the number of women, not because they are fashionable, but because they think differently from men and make theology something deeper and even more "tasty". Thank you.
Source: Vatican.va