Bishops Have Final Say on Issues of Faith

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Theologians and bishops have complementary roles in furthering understanding of the Catholic faith, but the former must ultimately defer to the latter on questions of definitive interpretation, according to a new report from a Vatican panel of theological advisers.
“Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria” is the latest report from the International Theological Commission, a group of theologians appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to study themes of current interest and offer expert advice to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The report acknowledges an inevitable tension, while emphasizing a need for harmony, between the practice of theology and the exercise by the pope and bishops of the magisterium, the Church’s teaching authority in matters of faith and morals.
“Bishops and theologians have distinct callings and must respect one another’s particular competence, lest the magisterium reduce theology to a mere repetitive science or theologians presume to substitute the teaching office of the church’s pastors,” the theologians write.