On Friday, Pope Francis called “for a reform of the way theology is taught in Catholic schools, saying students must learn about dialogue with Judaism and Islam, and that overall there must be greater freedom in theological research and academic pursuits,” according to ABC News.
ABC reports that the “Jesuit pope made the call during a speech at the Jesuit-run theology university in Naples. It follows his outreach this year to the Muslim world with the signing of a joint statement with the imam of Cairo’s Al Azhar, the seat of Sunni learning, establishing the relationship between Catholics and Muslims as brothers, with a common mission to promote peace.”
The Pope claimed in his speech that working together with Muslims is important in order “to build a peaceful existence, even when there are the troublesome episodes by fanatic enemies of dialogue.”
Students of Catholic theology are going to be required to learn “the culture, language and way of thinking of Jews and Muslims ‘to better understand and live out our relationship,’ he said,” according to ABC.
ABC reports: After the theologically doctrinaire papacies of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Francis has stressed instead the need to “walk together” with interfaith partners, often joking that theologians should ruminate on a deserted island while religious leaders press ahead with dialogue on the ground. He has also called for a more pastoral, merciful and conscience-driven approach to sticky theological problems, such as Communion for the civilly remarried.
“Theological freedom is necessary,” the Pope stated on Friday. He continued, “Without the possibility of trying new paths, you don’t create anything new.” Speaking off the cuff, Francis, though, made a distinction between the necessary freedom required for theological study and the need for theological precision in preaching to the faithful.
The Pope insisted on revising the way students are taught theology in order to place more emphasis on “welcome, dialogue and flexibility,” ABC explains. The Pope also said that lay people “should be encouraged to take up theological studies, especially women, he said,” according to ABC.
Via The National Catholic Reporter: Theology develops through dialogue, not an aggressive defense of doctrine that seeks to impose its beliefs on others, Pope Francis said.
Like Charles de Foucauld and the slain Trappist monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, fidelity to the Gospel “implies a style of life and of proclamation without a spirit of conquest, without a desire to proselytize and without an aggressive intent to refute,” the pope said June 21 in a speech at the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in Naples.
He also cited the writings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Italian philosopher Lanza del Vasto as examples of nonviolent teaching and warned that opposing sides in theological debates may be prone to the “Babel syndrome.”
While some believe the biblical story of the Tower of Babel is about “the confusion that comes from not understanding what the other says,” the “Babel syndrome means not listening to what the other says and believing that I know what the other person is thinking and what the other will say,” the pope said. “This is a plague.”
The pope traveled to Naples to deliver the closing address at a two-day conference on the theme “Theology after ‘Veritatis Gaudium’ in the context of the Mediterranean.”
In his apostolic constitution “Veritatis Gaudium” (“The Joy of Truth”), the pope issued revised norms for what are known as “ecclesiastical universities and faculties” – those that grant Vatican-recognized degrees, which are necessary for teaching most philosophy, theology and canon law courses in seminaries and pontifical universities.