“Francis approaches the subjects of society starting from the evangelical testimony”
The cross : Why did you choose to organize this conference especially this year?
Father Luc Forestier: While reading Fratelli Tutti last October, we felt a click. It was as if an arc was drawn from Evangelii Gaudium until the last encyclical, which is a form of synthesis of all the others: Querida Amazonia, Amoris Laetitia, Laudato Si… The outbreak of the pandemic has only multiplied the impact of the publication of this encyclical, which was scheduled for a long time. While discussing among colleagues, we said to ourselves that something was happening, and that it was the right moment to draw this same arc, to link the works of the Pope in our colloquium.
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Another aspect has been the rise of criticism against Pope Francis. We found it important that theology be able to position itself by entering into the debate to enlighten it. It is part of the exercise of theology! It is important to give the keys to understand.
Was it difficult to sum up the pontificate in just ten questions?
Father Luc Forestier: We had to make choices by showing only a few aspects of the past eight years: we will start by talking about his recent trip to Iraq, and then we will discuss the great works of the Pope.
→ STORY. Pope Francis in Iraq, a journey through history
Laudato Si, the consideration of migrants and the fight against abuses but also the journey towards a Synodal Church, the insistence on the Word of God, interreligious dialogue… But there would be so much more to say! For example, we do not address canonical questions, yet the Pope is a great legislator! We could also have talked about the reform of the Curia… We had to choose!
How can theology help to shed light on the questions of society, very present in the pontificate of Francis?
Father Luc Forestier: Students and teachers of the ICP, we want, using our theological tools, to show that the choices of Francis are made in the name of a conception of faith. Some accuse the Pope of wanting to change the Church into an NGO: this is not completely true. Francis approaches social issues starting from the evangelical witness. Through the ten questions of this colloquium, we show that theological resources make it possible to understand and shed light on certain aspects of the pontificate.
Was it important for you to include the ICP students in this lecture series?
Father Luc Forestier: Each of the ten points will be led by a teacher and a student in pairs. The students all have different backgrounds, nationalities and profiles. For example, we will discuss the pope’s coming to Iraq with a Greek Melkite priest and a Syriac priest who was in Iraq at the time of Francis’ visit.
We want to show the diversity of the entry points for theology: seminarian, lay person on ecclesial mission or person engaged in a profession but interested in this subject because we need to express our Christian faith in an audible way by others. Theology is relevant because it combines conviction, that which Christ makes us live, and critical reflection: the fact of debating, seeking arguments, debating sources.