Saturday, 22 January 2011

Vatican group looks at role of Indian theologians

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), is leading a Vatican delegation to India to discuss the role of Indian theologians in the context of global theology. A seven-day closed door colloquium began in Bangalore on January 16 with 28 bishops and 26 leading theologians from India, reports.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India said, “We are discussing the role of the Indian theologians as responsible theologians.” The basis for the discussion is Donum Veritas, the 1990 Vatican instruction on the role of theologians in the Church. The cardinal said their discussions included topics such as inculturation and pluralism.

A theology professor, who is not attending the colloquium, says globalization of culture in the modern world has led to the emergence of a global theology. "The pluralistic theologians have begun to dilute Christianity as one of the many religions to go to God. In this context, such a colloquium could become an alerting occasion," he told on condition of anonymity.

Unfortunately, Indian theologians have earned a reputation for being some of the most dangerous in the world today. John L. Allen Jr., Senior Correspondent at National Catholic Register Reporter, says:
“India has acquired a reputation for some of the most adventurous theology in Catholicism today, especially in “religious pluralism.” Thinkers such as Michael Amaladoss, Felix Wilfred, Raimon Panikkar, Aloysius Pieris and Jacques Dupuis, all of whom are either Indian or influenced by India, have been controversial because of the various ways in which they try to give positive theological value to non-Christian religions. That’s a logical development given India’s religious diversity, but it has raised alarms in quarters of the Church identified with evangelical Catholicism. Catholic leaders will want to encourage theological exploration that can open up dialogue, but without transgressing doctrinal limits.”

Let’s hope the discussions go well. India is important to the Vatican because the country could potentially be an important player in Catholic affairs in the 21st century. If current growth rates continue, there could be almost 30 million Catholics in India by 2050 – not big by Indian standards but large by Catholic ones. Hence the need to root out doctrinal errors earlier rather than later.