By Francesca Merlo
Pope Francis began his address by making reference to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s message for the occasion. Sent in October, the message stated that “only humbleness can find the Truth and the Truth in turn is the foundation of Love, on which ultimately everything depends”.
As Benedict XVI recalled in his message, the Commission was founded “to create new bridges between theology and Magisterium”.
Pope Francis acknowledged that in the last 5-year session, the Commission has “elaborated two significant texts”. The first, he said, offers a theological clarification on synodality, both in life and in the mission of the Church.
“As you know, this theme is very close to my heart: synodality is a style, it is a way of walking together, and that is what the Lord expects of the Church in the third millennium”, said Pope Francis.
The second document, he continued, proposes discernment on the different interpretations of religious freedom today. Pope Francis explained that “honest respect” for religious freedom is a “great contribution to the common good and to peace”.
The Pope then went on to tell those present that “as theologians from various backgrounds and latitudes”, they are the “mediators between faith and cultures”. In this way, he continued, they “take part in the essential mission of the Church: evangelisation”.
Pope Francis concluded by acknowledging that even after fifty years of intense work, “there is still much to be done”. Only a “beautiful theology”, which has respect for the Gospel, and is not content with merely functioning, attracts, he said. “And to make a beautiful theology we must never forget two dimensions that make up it. The first is the spiritual life, and the second is ecclesial life”. He said that a theologian must "go forward" and take risks during discussions. Theologians must address controversial and difficult topics; but, said the Pope, they should be addressed privately among theologians themselves, so as to avoid causing people to lose their faith. The people, he said, must always be given “the solid nourishment that feeds the faith”.
Finally, Pope Francis renewed his gratitude for all the work the Commission does, and urged all those present to pursue their mission with joy.