Pope says theologians must not be desk bound

Pope Francis has called on theologians not to settle for the “theology of the desk”, but to “smell of the people and of the road”.

In a letter to the theological faculty of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, the Pope used language he had previously applied to pastors.

According to an article in the National Catholic Reporter, Francis wrote that the Second Vatican Council “produced an irreversible movement of renewal that comes from the Gospel”.

So teaching and studying theology means living on a “frontier”, he continued.

“We must guard ourselves against a theology that is exhausted in the academic dispute or watching humanity from a glass castle,” the Pope said.

“You learn it to live: theology and holiness are an inseparable pair.”

“Do not settle for a theology of the desk,” he added. “Your place for reflection [is] the boundaries.”

“And do not fall into the temptation to paint over them, to perfume them, to adjust them a bit and tame them,” Francis wrote.

“The good theologians, like the good shepherds, smell of the people and of the road and, with their reflection, pour oil and wine on the wounds of humankind.”

“Theology may be an expression of a Church which is a ‘field hospital,’ which lives its mission of salvation and healing in the world,” he continued.

Pope Francis said the sort of theologian formed at the university must not be “an intellectual without talent, an ethicist without kindness or a bureaucrat of the sacred”.

Similarly such an aspiring theologian must not be a theologian “of the museum” who “accumulates data and information on revelation without really knowing what to do with it”.

Rather, such an aspirant should be “is a person able to build around themselves humanity, to transmit the divine Christian truth in a truly human dimension”.


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