I’m very excited to begin blogging for the National Catholic Register!
Some readers may be familiar with the program Catholic Answers Live, where I often answer questions about the Catholic faith—or other faiths.
In the meantime, let’s talk about a recent homily by Pope Benedict. He gave it December 1st at a Mass with members of the International Theological Commission (ITC)—a group of theologians that consult for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pope Benedict himself used to head the ITC.
In the homily, he uses that day’s gospel text (Luke 10:21-24)—where Jesus praises the Father for revealing hidden things to the childlike rather than to the wise—to invite theologians to an examination of conscience.
This is an eye-opening statement. Any time a pope suggests that a group needs to make an examination of conscience, it’s dramatic, and the rest of the homily is charged with import.
He’s not charging the members of the ITC with wrongdoing. They are faithful theologians who serve at the Holy See’s request. But he is using the occasion of meeting with them—as theologians—to issue a call to theologians everywhere.
His basic point is that the phenomenon Jesus talks about in the gospel reading—the simple getting the message while the wise miss it—applies today and, in fact, applies especially to the last 200 years of Christian history, which has been haunted by what you might paradoxically call “the faithless theologian.”
“There have been great scholars, great experts, great theologians, teachers of faith who have taught us many things. They have gone into the details of Sacred Scripture, of the history of salvation, but have been unable to see the mystery itself, its central nucleus: that Jesus was really the Son of God, that at a given moment in history the Trinitarian God entered our history, as a man like us. The essential has remained hidden! One could easily mention the great names in the history of theology over the past 200 years from whom we have learned much; but the eyes of their hearts were not open to the mystery.”