Pope Francis traveled to Naples to participate in a conference on the teaching of theology in Catholic universities.
Throughout the morning of June 21 he heard several lectures on how theology can help to promote dialogue to reduce tensions between the different peoples and religions of the Mediterranean.
Later that morning, Pope Francis spoke on how the renewal of the study of theology can help society become a meeting place for the acceptance and coexistence of different cultures.
“I dream of theological departments where there exists the conviviality of differences, where a theology of dialogue and acceptance is practiced, where one is exposed to the multi-faceted model of theological knowledge in place of a static and disembodied sphere,” Pope Francis said.
“A place where theological research is capable of promoting a difficult but exciting process of enculturation,” he continued, also calling for an increase in dialogue and collaboration between theological disciplines, but also with other religions.
He expressed that Catholic theologians should also study Judaism and Islam. In addition, he mentioned that theologians should not be indifferent to the adversities faced by humanity.
“Without communion and without compassion constantly nourished by prayer – this is important, for one can only do theology on one’s knees – theology loses not only its soul, but also its intelligence and its ability to interpret reality in a Christian way,” the pontiff said.
Pope Francis also defended theological freedom in universities: “Without the opportunity to experience new paths, nothing new can be built and no space is left for new inspirations by the Holy Spirit.”
“Among scholars, onward with academic freedom. Ultimately, the Magisterium will have the final word. But you cannot do theology without this freedom.” he explained.
“While preaching to the People of God, please do not harm the faith of God’s people with questions under dispute. Your duty is to handle these disputed questions with other theologians. But for the people of God, your duty is to deliver substance that nourishes their faith, that does not make the faith relative.”
Before leaving, Pope Francis gave them a blessing.
The Cardinal of Naples then bid his goodbyes, saying, “Holy Father, thank you, and may Our Lady accompany you,” in the Neapolitan dialect.
Pope Francis’s third visit to Naples for the conference and lasted only a few hours, after which he immediately returned to Rome.