By Junno Arocho
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Pope Benedict XVI received the International Theological Commission in audience this morning at the conclusion of their Annual Plenary Assembly.
The Holy Father greeted all participants present, including Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, president of the Commission and new Secretary General, Father Serge-Thomas Bonino. The Pope expressed his joy at the pilgrimage made by the commission to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major to entrust to the Virgin Mary their work on the final message of the commission.
The message builds upon themes established in the document “Theology Today, Perspectives, Principles and Criteria.”
“It illustrates very well the specific way in which theologians, faithfully serving the truth of faith, can participate in the missionary efforts of the Church,” the Holy Father said.
“Taking note of the vitality and diversity of theology after Vatican II, this document aims to present, so to speak, the genetic code of Catholic theology, that is, the principles that define its identity and, therefore, guarantee its unity in the diversity of its achievements. To do this, the text clarifies the criteria for a truly Catholic theology and therefore one able to contribute to the Church’s mission to proclaim the Gospel to all men.”
Pope Benedict also noted the document’s mention of the importance that theologians must pay to sensus fidelium, or ‘the sense of the faithful’. “It is very useful that your Commission has also focused on this issue which is of particular importance for the reflection on the faith and life of the Church,” the Holy Father said.
“Today, however, it is particularly important to clarify the criteria used to distinguish the authentic sensus fidelium from its counterfeits. In fact, it is not some kind of public opinion of the Church, and it is unthinkable to mention it in order to challenge the teachings of the Magisterium, this because the sensus fidei cannot grow authentically in the believer except to the extent in which he or she fully participates in the life of the Church, and this requires a responsible adherence to her Magisterium.”
The Holy Father also applauded the commission’s study on the “Triune God, unity of mankind”, which clarifies that the sense of the faith which could at times lead to strong reactions against monotheistic religions "because of the claim that they advance the existence of a universal truth.” Such reactions, the Pope continued, would lead some to believe that a “‘polytheism of values’ can guarantee tolerance and civil peace and conform to the spirit of a pluralistic democratic society.”
“Christianity and monotheism is of vibrant relevance,” Pope Benedict said. “The Lord attests to a radical rejection of all forms of hatred and violence in favor of the absolute primacy of agape.”
Concluding his address, Pope Benedict XVI invoked the graces of the Virgin Mary so that the commission may continue to serve the knowledge of the faith with joy.
“Renewing my profound gratitude for your service to the Church, I assure you of my constant closeness in prayer and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing on all of you,” the Pope concluded.
— — —
On ZENIT’s web page:
For the full text of the Pope’s address to the International Theological Commission, go to: http://www.zenit.org/article-36125?l=english