Ratzinger replacement stresses value of pastoral experience

Archbishop William Levada, the new head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said his pastoral experience makes him sympathetic to the doctrinal and teaching challenges faced by local bishops around the world.

In an interview with Catholic News Service yesterday, Archbishop Levada - outgoing Archbishop of San Francisco - also said that while the Congregation sometimes must discipline errant theologians, its primary work is positive - safeguarding sound doctrine so the faith can be shared with the world.

That task is something all theologians should share, he said.

Archbishop Levada was visiting the doctrinal congregation's offices. He plans to move to Rome at the end of the northern summer, after he wraps up affairs in his current Archdiocese.

"I think that's an important thing for the bishops around the world, to have the sense that when they need to talk to me or to our congregation there is someone here who is sympathetic to their pastoral situation and experience," he said.

Archbishop Levada, who as a bishop helped write the Catechism of the Catholic Church, said formation in the faith was one area where universal and local churches could cooperate.

In the congregation's dealings with theologians, the archbishop said it was important for everyone to understand that theology, properly understood, is simply a way of helping people learn who Christ is and what Christ did and said.

"I like to think that promoting a sound grasp of doctrine and helping the church see how beautiful and wonderful God's love is, as it has been revealed to us, that's what theology is about. So I think that's the primary job of this congregation," he said.

He said one of the "negative aspects" of the congregation's work is that it must occasionally intervene and ask theologians how they justify their positions or square them with the faith. That can be misunderstood as a form of repression, he said.

"I think people have sometimes got the idea that if you don't let every theologian say everything that he or she thinks, or if you challenge them in any way and say, 'That's not correct,' that somehow you are impeding freedom of conscience or freedom of inquiry," he said.

"But that's not the case. We have freedom to inquire. But a theologian himself or herself is called to discriminate between where that inquiry leads and how it corresponds to the faith that the church continues to receive and to live by. Otherwise they would not be doing true theology, it seems to me," he said.

New doctrinal head Levada says U.S. pastoral experience will help his work (Catholic News Service 6/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Pope appoints San Francisco archbishop to fill his old shoes (CathNews 16/5/05)

Abuse crisis to follow Levada to Rome post 700-case backlog at watchdog office (San Francisco Chroncle 30/5/05)
Peter Steinfels: As an American Heads to the Vatican, What Might His Impact Be? (New York Times 21/5/05)
John L Allen: Reactions to Levada's appointment (National Catholic Reporter 20/5/05)
New Vatican doctrine chief a theologian who knows pastoral issues (Catholic News Service 17/5/05)

7 Jun 2005