Wanted: More women theologians

Pope Francis had some suggestions for the International Theological Commission (ITC) when they met at the Vatican last Thursday.

More women

Francis suggested that the prestigious ITC could consider including more women in their group.

Not because it’s the ‘done thing’ according to current fashion, he added.

Rather, Francis suggests, women bring a different intellectual perspective to theology, which can make it “more profound and more ‘flavourful’.”

Of the 10th Commission’s 28 members, five are women. Francis appointed them for five-year terms in 2021.

Three theological questions

Working in an advisory capacity to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the ITC has agreed to explore three theological questions Francis suggested.

These include themes of the Christological faith professed by the Council of Nicea; certain current anthropological questions; and the theology of creation from a Trinitarian perspective.

Francis expressed his pleasure that members would explore these questions, reminding members of their obligations.

They must carry out their work “in the path traced out by the Second Vatican Council, which … constitutes the sure compass for the journey of the Church” in our day,” Francis said.

Francis then proposed three “directions” for the ITC to follow.

  • Creative fidelity to Tradition

Tradition must either grow or die out, Francis warned. He highlighted the dangers of refusing to grow, but falling back on “the way it’s always been done.” He invited theologians to help correct this tendency in the Church.

  • The theologian’s role

A theologian has a vocation to go beyond existing doctrine, because “he is trying to make theology more explicit,” Francis explained.

They must be open to the contributions of other disciplines.

This means “treasuring” a “strong form” of “transdisciplinarity” as the gathering and deepening of all human knowledge “within the space of Light and Life offered by the Wisdom that emanates from God’s revelation”.

“Theologians must go further [than catechists], try to go beyond.

“But I want to distinguish this from the catechist: When instructing children and adults in the faith, the catechist must give the correct doctrine, solid doctrine; not the possible new things, of which some are good…”

He encouraged them to teach theology in a way that provokes “wonder and awe” to those who hear them.

  • Collegiality

Collegiality is especially important in the context of the ongoing synodal process, he said.

The Holy Spirit

Francis finished by saying he hopes the Commission’s work might be tranquil and fruitful, undertaken in a spirit of mutual listening, dialogue, and communal discernment, and in openness to the voice of the Holy Spirit.


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