"...We often hear it said of Pope Francis: “He’s not a great theologian, but he is a great pastor,” as if this assertion made any sense. As a theologian who shares Pope Francis’s heritage of Latin American Catholicism, I strongly disagree. Pope Francis is a terrific theologian, whose theology is coherent and cogent because it arises precisely out of his walking with the community. And he is a great pastor because his pastoral practice and teaching are informed by a careful and thoughtful theology that reaches back into our tradition and grounds itself in the Gospel.
We can also see this interplay beautifully exemplified in the Jesuit university professors who worked in multiple fields of inquiry in El Salvador, all of their intellectual power carefully targeted at ending the bloodshed and suffering of their people. They lived their faith as theologians speaking of a loving and liberating God, until their martyred end.
To change the world, to build the kingdom of God, we first have to grab hold of the tools that will make it possible for us to see what is wrong, to understand what goes against and defaces the Gospel’s announcement of a God of boundless love who desires us to enact such boundless love for all. It is then that the formation of our communities in faith can take on new life amid the urgent realities that threaten their very existence.
Without the tools of serious inquiry, of analyzing structures, of recovering millennial wisdom and of searching jointly for solutions, our pastoral practices become escapes into an “other-worldly” Christianity, which goes very much against Jesus’ own practices and those of the early church. Likewise, if we have all the intellectual tools in the world but we lack the most basic love of neighbor and concern for God’s creation, those tools are worthless."