Day by day, the problems multiply in and for the Church. She meets with challenges from within and outside. As regards the criticisms leveled against her from outside, she is partly responsible because the faults identified in her personnel have proved to be real at least in certain cases. At the same time, the news spread by the media about the misuse of power, sexual abuses and corruption in the Church are often exaggerated. At this juncture, Church in India terribly wants people who blend properly wisdom and sanctity in life. In this regard, the theologians can play a vital role as they are formed and disposed more than any others to face these challenges.
According to the Catholic Directory of India 2013 there are around 16 thousand diocesan priests, 19 thousand religious priests, 2500 professed brothers and one lakh nuns. Where the energy of these church personnel is invested in? Apart from administering the parishes, they run 16 thousand educational institutions, 300 hospitals and clinics and 6000 social service centres in India. But among them, very few people are engaged in theologizing – read the signs of time in the light of Christian mysteries and bring in creative responses that help her witness gospel and transform the society. The striking fact is that the number of people who have acquired doctorate in different disciplines of theological sciences exceeds one thousand even in a small state like Kerala. Unfortunately, many of them are busy with administrative works and those who are engaged in the field of theology don’t assume it seriously. It is to be noted that the number of authentic theologians decrease in the Church because they neither enjoy freedom nor they are heard in the Church.
The events and ideas that are presented by the media, politicians and religious heads don’t often cope with the actual facts. As Noam Chomsky rightly observes, the ordinary people are not able to examine the veracity of their statements, whereas the intellectuals have better access to the sources of right information and they possess the tools to analyze the phenomena and cull out the truth. Only through the upright educators of faith, people can know how the facts and figures are distorted and misrepresented by the vested powers. Francis de Sales has said: ‘knowledge is the eighth sacrament for the clergy.’ The theologians are better placed to talk with conviction on the topics concerning God, man and nature. In this regard, the teaching faculties and theologians have great duty to be vectors of truth and make people know the truth.
This does not mean the theologians have to adopt a defensive attitude towards the media or secular world. Dogmatism was prevalent among the Christian thinkers in the pre-Vatican era when they had to meet with challenges arising from the surrounding cultures. The drawback of this approach is that the theologians in their attempt to provide rational justification for their standpoints don’t examine whether anything good would come from the part of contestants. Today under the pressure of the revivalist movements in the Church the theologians retract from the spirit of dialogue that was initiated by the Second Vatican Council. The undue preoccupations to justify Church prevent them from examining the veracity of the allegations made against her. In fact, theologians have the obligation to develop right perspectives about the current events. Only when the theologians keep an eye on what the people at the grass-roots think, believe and do, they can render a meaningful creative and effective service to the Church and society.