Pope Explains Link Between Magisterium and Freedom of Theology

Tells Pontifical Academy of a Key Principle

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The theologian´s freedom of research loses its ultimate objective when it separates from the "communion of the Church," says John Paul II.



He made his comment when he met members of the Pontifical Academy of Theology on Saturday.

During the meeting with 42 academics, the Pope highlighted the key principle that directs the relation between theologians and the Christian community: "When it is a question of communion in the faith, the principle of unity in truth imposes itself; when it is a question of differences of opinions, the principle of unity in charity is applicable."

"Instead of being a limitation, ecclesial communion is, in fact, the place that vivifies theological reflection, supporting its audacity, and prizing its prophecy," the Pope clarified.

The Academy of Theology was founded in 1695. Last week it held its first forum since John Paul II approved its new statutes in 1999.

The theme of the meeting, presided over by Cardinal Paul Poupard, prefect of the Pontifical Council for Culture, was "Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life: For a Rereading of ´Dominus Iesus.´"

That August 2000 declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith highlighted the unique and universal character of salvation brought by Christ through his Church.

"The free research of the theologian is exercised, in fact, within the faith and the communion of the Church," the Pope said. "In the Church, salt of the earth and light of the world, theological reflection accomplishes its task of responding to the universal salvific will of God, who desires that "all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth´" [1 Timothy 2:4].

"Thus, by having an increasingly profound understanding of revealed truth, theological science becomes a service to the entire People of God, sustains its hope and reinforces its communion," the Holy Father added.

"Adherence to Christ-Truth, manifested by theologians in obedience to the magisterium of the Church, is a powerful force that unifies and edifies," John Paul II stressed.

Because of this, "the Catholic theologian is aware that the magisterium is not an intrinsic reality of truth and faith but, on the contrary, is a constitutive element of the Church," the Pope added.

The function of the magisterium is to place itself "at the service of the Word of truth, to protect it from deviations and deformations, always guaranteeing the People of God to live in history guided and sustained by Christ-Truth," John Paul II explained.

"Therefore, the relation between the magisterium and theological work is governed by the principle of harmony," he concluded. "As both are at the service of divine Revelation, both rediscover new aspects and greater depths of the revealed truth."