ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
Saturday, 16 February 2002
1. I am pleased to have this meeting, that you desired in order to highlight the celebration of the first International Forum of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. I cordially greet you all, with special gratitude to Cardinal Paul Poupard who has expressed your sentiments and illustrated the
Forum's approach to the significant theme: "Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. For a re-reading of
If the human being can be defined "as the one who seeks the truth" (Fides et ratio, n. 28), he knows that in his encounter with Christ and with his divine Revelation he has found the truth about life: "In Jesus Christ, who is the truth, faith recognizes the ultimate appeal to humanity, an appeal made in order that what we experience as desire and nostalgia may come to its fulfilment" (ibid., n. 33).
2. The priority task of the Pontifical Academy of Theology is meditation on the mystery of Jesus Christ, our Master and Lord, fullness of grace and truth (cf. Jn 1,16). From this source of light originates the mandate of preaching, of witness and of involvement in dialogue, both ecumenical and interreligious.
In the Encylcical Fides et ratio I said: "There are many paths which lead to the truth, but since Christian truth has a salvific value, any one of these paths may be taken, as long as it leads to the final goal, that is to the Revelation of Jesus Christ" (n. 38). Academics, those who foster Christ's truth by witnessing to it in the Church and in the world, in their work of study and research, are guided by Revelation, the "true lodestar" (ibid., n. 15) towards the truth to know, the good to do and the charity to live.
Secondly, the description of your "Theological Academy" as "Pontifical" means that its service to Christ the Truth is characterized by its ecclesial sense (ecclesialità). In fact, the theologian takes up his free research within the faith and communion of the Church. In the Church, salt of the earth and light of the world (cf. Mt 5,13-14), theological reflection carries out its task to respond to the universal saving will of God, who desires "all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tm 2,4). In fact, far from being a limiting factor, ecclesial communion is a source that breathes life into theological reflection; it supports its creativity and appreciates its prophecy. In this way, theological knowledge, with its deeper understanding of revealed truth, becomes a service to the entire People of God, supports their hope and reinforces their communion.
Where there is a matter of communion in the faith, the principle of unity in the truth prevails. On the other hand, where there is a difference of opinion, the principle of unity in charity applies.
5. After more than three centuries of life, may the Pontifical Theological Academy continue to receive from your reflection and witness fresh zeal to announce the light of Christ in the millennium that has just begun.
With this wish, as I invoke God's help in your work I cordially impart my Blessing.