(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to Cardinal Aurelio Poli, Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Argentina of the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its founding.
Below is a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Francis' letter.
The celebration of 100 years of the Faculty of Theology of the Catholic University is an important moment for the Church in Argentina. The anniversary coincides with that of fifty years from the closing of the Second Vatican Council, which 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.
How, then, do we go forward? 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. 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.
At this time theology must also take responsibility for conflicts: not only those that we experience within the Church, but also those that concern the whole world and those which you live on the streets of Latin America. Do not settle for a theology desktop. Your place for reflection are the boundaries. And do not fall into the temptation to paint, to perfume, to adjust them a bit and tame them. 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.
Theology is an expression of a Church which is a "field hospital", which lives its mission of salvation and healing in the world. Mercy is not just a pastoral attitude but it is the very substance of the Gospel of Jesus. I encourage you to study how the various disciplines - the dogmatic, morality, spirituality, law and so on - may reflect the centrality of mercy.
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.
Understanding theology is to understand God, who is Love.
Who then is the student of theology that the UCA is called to form? Certainly not a theologian "museum" that accumulates data and information on Revelation without really knowing what to do with it. Nor a passive onlooker (balconero) on history. The theologian formed at U.C.A. 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.
I ask the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom and Mother of Divine Grace, to accompany us in the celebration of this centenary. I ask you to greet the students, staff, professors and authorities of the Faculty, who do not forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin protect you.
From the Vatican, March 3, 2015