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Thanks to the collaboration between the International Theological Commission (ITC) and Vatican Media, a documentary, entitled The International Theological Commission in its 50 years of Life: History, Journey, Perspectives, was produced on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the ITC. Transmitted in preview during the official celebration of the semicentennial in Rome in December of 2019, it is being made available today to the public, who will now be able to have a greater knowledge of this institution, an outcome of the Second Vatican Council. Ilustrated by rich archival documents (photographs, video, extracts of pontifical addresses...) and furnished with a clear and simple narrative, the documentary, of about ten minutes, includes three principal parts.

The first is of a more historical nature and first presents the motives that led Saint Paul VI to institute the ITC in 1969. As observed by Saint John Paul II, the primary purpose was “to continue in a permanent way the close collaboration between pastors and theologians that had characterized the efforts of the Second Vatican Council” (Saint John Paul II, Address to the ITC, 1994). The documentary retraces some steps that marked the history of the nine quinquennials succeeding each other until today, under the presidency of the Prefects of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and it also reminds us of some prominent leading figures, such as the arrival of the first female theologians in 2004.

The second part pertains to the methods and above all of the spirit that presides over the works of the ITC. Indeed, “through its existence and the carrying out of its work, the Commission offers a testimony of great value on what the exercise of theology in the Church should be” (Saint John Paul II, Address to the ITC, 1994). Three keywords have been chosen: “pluralism”, “collegiality” and “ecclesiality”. The pluralism results from the international nature of the ITC: “A feature of your Commission is its international character, which reflects the catholicity of the Church. The diversity of viewpoints should enrich catholicity without harming unity. The unity of Catholic theologians stems from their common reference to one faith in Christ and is nourished by the diversity of the Holy Spirit’s gifts. Starting from this foundation, and in a healthy pluralism, various theological approaches, developed in different cultural contexts and using diverse methods, cannot ignore one another, but in theological dialogue should reciprocally enrich and correct one another. The work of your Commission can be a witness to this growth.”(Francis, Address to the ITC, 2014). Likewise, collegiality confirms that “as in the case with the Christian vocations, the ministry of theologians, as well as being personal, is also both communal and collegial; that is, it is exercised in and for the Church as a whole, and it is lived out in solidarity with those who have the same calling” (ITC, Document Theology Today, n. 45). Ecclesiality, finally, signifies that theological research depends by nature on the faith of the Church and places itself at the service of its mission.

The third and last part of the documentary presents some of the 29 published documents from the ITC (a thirtieth, The Reciprocity Between Faith and Sacraments in the Sacramental Economy [2020], has since been added). The documentary shows how intimately these documents are connected to the life of the Church herself. In this manner, for example, Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past (2000) accompanied the Great Jubilee of 2000. The recent documents on Sensus fidei in the life of the Church (2014) and Synodality in the life and mission of the Church (2018) illumine the synodal journey of the current Church. Others address emerging problems in the relationship between the Church and the contemporary cultures, such as the question of religious violence (God the Trinity and the unity of humanity. Christian monotheism and its opposition to violence, 2014) or the present challenges of religious liberty (Religious freedom for the good of all, 2019).

We hope that this documentary will make more widely known to the public a discreet ecclesial institution but passionately dedicated to the doctrinal mission of the Church: “Go therefore and teach all nations” (Mt 28: 19).

R.P. Serge-Thomas Bonino, O.P.
Secretary General Emerit