Pope: Theology begins with sincere dialogue, not ‘conquering spirit’

Light of truth

Theology develops through dialogue, not an aggressive defense of doctrine that seeks to impose its beliefs on others, Pope Francis said. Like Charles de Foucauld and the slain Trappist monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, fidelity to the Gospel “implies a style of life and of proclamation without a spirit of conquest, without a desire to proselytize and without an aggressive intent to refute,” the Pope said on June 21 in a speech at the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in Naples.

He also cited the writings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Italian philosopher Lanzadel Vasto as examples of non-violent teaching and warned that opposing sides in theological debates may be prone to the “Babel Syndrome.”

While some believe the biblical story of the Tower of Babel is about “the confusion that comes from not understanding what the other says,” the “Babel Syndrome means not listening to what the other says and believing that I know what the other person is thinking and what the other will say,” the Pope said. “This is a plague.”

The Pope travelled to Naples to deliver the closing address at a two-day conference on the theme “Theology after ‘Veritatis Gaudium’ in the context of the Mediterranean.”

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