Pope Francis sent a letter to Cardinal Aurelio Poli, Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Argentina to mark the 100th anniversary of its founding.
According to a translation by Vatican Radio he started by saying that: “The celebration of 100 years of the Faculty of Theology of the Catholic University is an important moment for the Church in Argentina.”
Pope Francis noted that this anniversary coincides with that of fifty years from the closing of the Second Vatican Council, which, he said, “was an update, a re-reading of the Gospel in the perspective of contemporary culture.”
“It produced an irreversible movement of renewal that comes from the Gospel. And now, we must go forward,” he added.
What is the way forward, he then asked. “Teaching and studying theology means living on a frontier, one in which the Gospel meets the needs of the people which should be proclaimed in an understandable and meaningful way,” said Pope Francis.
He also insisted on the link between theology and personal holiness. “We must guard against a theology that is exhausted in academic dispute or watching humanity from a glass castle. You learn to live: theology and holiness are inseparable.”
“The theology that developed is therefore rooted and based on Revelation, on tradition, but also accompanies the cultural and social processes, in particular the difficult transitions,” Pope Francis continued.
He also insisted that theology must take responsibility for conflicts, not only those in the Church, but also world and local issues. “Do not settle for a theology desktop,” the Pope urged.
“Even good theologians, as good shepherds, smell of the people and of the road and, with their reflection, pour oil and wine on the wounds of men,” he said.
Pope Francis spoke of theology as being an expression of the Church as a “field hospital.”
“Mercy is not just a pastoral attitude but it is the very substance of the Gospel of Jesus,” he added.
“Without mercy our theology, our right, our pastoral care runs the risk of collapsing into bureaucratic pettiness or ideology, which of itself wants to tame the mystery,” he explained.
The Catholic University of Argentina, he insisted should not be a sort of theological museum that merely accumulates knowledge, but then does nothing with it. A theologian formed at the university should not be a passive bystander but “is a person able to build humanity around him, to transmit the divine Christian truth in a truly human dimension, and not an intellectual without talent, an ethicist without kindness or a sacred bureaucrat.”
Pope Francis concluded by invoking the intercession of Mary, Seat of Wisdom and Mother of Divine Grace, to accompany them in the celebration of this centenary.