MANILA, July 7, 2013—Seminarians and members of the clergy on Saturday gathered at the San Carlos Seminary auditorium to scrutinize the essential characteristics of Theology amid certain fragmentations it has gone through in the postmodern era.

Nearly 800 theology students and professors attended the theological symposium organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Seminaries in an attempt to dissect the document issued by the International Theological Commission (ITC) shortly before Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s declaration of the Year of Faith.

The document, titled “Theology Today: Perspective, Principles and Criteria”, seeks to closely expound the characteristics and clear sense of theology in its engagement with the present generation.

Recognizing the plurality of cultural and religious contexts emanating in the country, Episcopal Commission on Seminaries chairman Mylo Hubert Vergara, Bishop of Pasig, said it is needed to establish clarity on what makes a faithful endeavor genuinely Catholic.

“The recent document of ITC is an excellent springboard for authentic Catholic theologizing,” he said, noting the opportune time to heed the call of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s call to achieve in the Year of faith a “renewed understanding, deeper appreciation, and wider expression of Christian faith.”

“The incumbent Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and concurrent resident of the ITC, Archbishop Gerhart Mueller, greatly desires that this document be studied, reflected upon, and discussed in various theological fora, particularly among students of theology whether seminarians, lay and religious sisters or brothers, and most especially by deans and professors of faculties of theology,” he said.

According to Fr. Francis Gustilo, ITC member and professor at the Don Bosco Center of Studies, the document released by the ITC was studied by top theologians of the world for 8 years, noting that prior to its publication, the commission already surmised the possibility that the document might draw both positive and negative feedback from its readers.

“Everything is part of the continuing dialogue regarding this continuing question on what is correct or accurate theology,” he said.

“We are very open for feedback, though that does not mean that we could change what has already been published. But this is still a work in progress and it will always progress because of feedbacks,” Gustilo said.

Among the esteemed clergy members who graced the event were Fr. Francis Moloney, professor of scripture and former Dean of Theology of the Catholic University of America, Fr. Jose Antonio Aureada, Dominican theologian from the University of Santo Tomas, and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

Moloney was tapped to expound on the first chapter of the ITC document titled “Listening to the Word of God”; the second chapter, “Abiding in Communion with the Church”, was discussed by Tagle; Aureada talked about the last chapter titled “Giving an Account of the Truth.”

The event was organized in collaboration with the San Carlos Seminary Graduate School of Theology and Don Bosco Center of Studies.

Goal of theology 

Fr. Kenneth Masong, secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Seminaries, said that conducting various theological symposia contributes in making Catholic theologizing in the country not simply a discourse about God, but an opportunity to have a renewed encounter with Him in the very contemplation of one’s faith.

He recalled the remark once uttered by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, who said that the problem with theologians is that “they spend more time talking about God than talking to Him.”

“Although this may be a common pitfall especially when one gets lost in the complexity of theological issues, genuine theologizing needs to end in the contemplation of the mystery of God,” Masong said.

Despite all the complexities behind the mystery of theologizing, the priest noted that its end goal would always remain the same—to clear the way toward God—for those who serve and for those who encounter Him in their unique experiences.

“This is at bottom the goal of all theology—to clear the way to God himself. May this day of theologizing be a great venue not to get lost in the forest of theological debate, but a means of clearing the way to encounter the heart of our faith, who is God Himself,” he said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)