Bishop Fisichella on the Roles of Theology

Perspective from Rector of Lateran University

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ROME, OCT. 25, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Theology is missionary by definition, in addition to being ecclesial and universal, says the rector of the Lateran University.



Bishop Rino Fisichella, the rector, expressed this conviction at the opening of the academic year of the Marianum school of theology. He emphasized the Church's need for theology and its relation to charity.

"Theology must give the believer the reason for hope and, at the same time, be able to inspire charity and not be limited to offering intellectual contents," he said.

Bishop Fisichella defined the ecclesial character of theology as an essential characteristic. This dimension, he said, is not specific to some theological schools but is integral to the very nature of Catholic theology.

However, this does not mean that theology does not allow for plurality. On the contrary, theology "must allow for the plurality of forms so that the transcendence and freedom of the mystery will emerge," the bishop stressed.

To reinforce his position, the rector noted the New Testament writers Matthew, Luke, Mark, John and Paul. "Are theirs not different theologies?" he asked.

For Bishop Fisichella, theology must always have a transcendent dimension so as not to be turned into simple philosophical speculation. "Theology is not a school of thought but a gymnasium of life," he remarked.

"A sound theology is open to dialogue and debate," the bishop said. "Apologia is not the defense of the faith but the presentation of the content of faith to another." Hence, apologia is more valid than ever, he said.

Bishop Fisichella spoke at the opening of the academic year of the Marianum Pontifical Faculty of Theology, a university institution administered by the Order of Servants of Mary, which is dedicated primarily to studies on the figure of Mary, in the mystery of Christ and the Church, and on ecumenism.

The highlight of the ceremony was the farewell address of outgoing president Father Ignacio Calabuig, and the inauguration of the Marianum's new president, Friar Silvano Maggiani.

Among the novelties at the Marianum is the second edition of a course on "Women and Christianity," which will be held in March, and the growing number of publications of students as well as professors. Registration, however, has declined slightly.

Next week, Rosa Cali, alumna of the Marianum, will be awarded, by the Pope himself, the prize of the pontifical academies for the best work in the area of Mariology. Cali's work has focused on the "anti-Mariological" texts of the Church Fathers.