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Vatican official wants return to traditional theology

US Dominican Fr Augustine Di Noia, a leading member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said that while the it cannot dismiss advances in scholarship, the Church needs to recover its traditional understanding of theology.

He said the primary task of the theologian is to try to "understand, explain, unfold, and exhibit the beauty of God's action". He added that pursuits such as the historical and critical study of Sacred Scripture "cannot be treated as the enemy", implying that they must remain subservient to the primary purpose of theology.

The phenomenon of dissent, or "loyal opposition" by many theologians to Church doctine that has emerged over the past 20-30 years "is something unprecedented in the history of Christianity," he said.

Fr Di Noia was speaking at the Lay Centre in Rome on the vocation of the theologian in the Church today.

He said that in the past, the "ecclesial vocation" of theologian was not discussed, but accepted. Over the past century, the traditional confidence of theologians was eroded as more rational ways of approaching God's action prevailed, and theology became more fragmented through the multiplication of disciplines and specialisation.

St Thomas Aquinas and other theologians "mastered the sources themselves; they were also biblical scholars, and knew the sources", said Fr Di Noia. But in the 20th century, however, sources grew and methodologies increased.

The Universe

US theologian appointed to Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (9/4/02)

30 May 2003