By Anita S. Bourdin
ROME, JAN. 29, 2010 (Zenit.org).- In 2002, Pope John Paul II told the Pontifical Academy of Theology that its first duty is to meditate on Christ, fullness of truth.
At its fifth international conference, under way through Saturday in Rome, the academy continues to fulfill this exhortation.
The three day conference is on "The Light of Christ: Between Mystery, Experience and Perspectives in the Way of Light of the Church."
The theme follows the line of John Paul II's encyclical "Redemptor Hominis," explained Father Francois Marie Lethel, secretary of the academy, when he presented the forum last Tuesday, with Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
John Paul II's legacy
Father Lethel noted how the forum is organized every two years and that the Christocentric aspect of its work is inspired in a pointer John Paul II gave during an audience in 2002.
"The priority task of the Pontifical Academy of Theology is meditation on the mystery of Jesus Christ, our Master and Lord, fullness of grace and truth (cf. John 1:16). From this source of light originates the mandate of preaching, of witness and of involvement in dialogue, both ecumenical and interreligious," the Pope told them.
Father Lethel stressed the academy's commitment to this line of theological reflection, taking into account "the experience of the saints" and "the experience of the People of God."
Father Lethel himself is known for his French-language thesis on the theology of the saints.
He told ZENIT that in this work, he highlights "the heroic virtues of John Paul II," which were confirmed by Benedict XVI last Dec 19.
"John Paul II is not only a great Pope and a great thinker, but the holiness of his life is guaranteed, and his teachings will have to be reinterpreted as those of a saint," Father Lethel observed.
Another aspect that Father Lethel develops is the importance of Benedict XVI's catecheses in the Wednesday general audience.
"After the fathers of the Church, the Pope considered the saints of the Middle Ages. He mentioned Thérèse of the Child Jesus when speaking to theologians on Dec. 1, 2009, and again on Dec. 2, in his catechesis to the People of God, in line with a great author of the Middle Ages, William of Saint-Thierry," the priest recalled.
He added that the theology of the saints is that of Thomas Aquinas, of Francis of Assisi, of Thérèse of Lisieux, of persons who have a very great education and of others with more limited education, but who are the "knowers of God" precisely because they love with all their heart.
"He who loves is born of God and knows God; he who does not love, has not known God because God is Love," the theologian affirmed.
The first day of the conference included an audience with Benedict XVI.
Working sessions have focused on "The Subject of Light in Sapiential Biblical Theology" and "The Christ Light Who Illumines Theological Thought."
Today, the theologians addressed the questions of "Light of Christ, the Experience of Light in Christian Life" and "Theology in Dialogue With the Thought and Culture of our Time."
By Anita S. Bourdin