Message from Fr. Adolfo Nicolás SJ
Testimonial Dinner, 04 Aug 2018
In this distinguished Audience, there certainly are those who ask themselves for the meaning of today’s supper. Why a person, Adolfo Nicolás, who otherwise appears to be rather normal, in a time of so many, would give his name to a Pastoral Institute and to fund-raising?
The answer is simple: because he believes in Pastoral Institutes.
Pastoral. There was a time when Theology would say “no further” and Pastoral would obey and not budge. We are now in an age, initiated by Pope Francis, where Pastoral is going to dictate to Theology how to respond truly to human need and to find its place among the human sciences. The sudden stops from Theology will come to an end in the service of a pastoral approach that verily responds to the needs of men and women today.
When I was in Rome I gave a long thought to where to put our men at a time when our numbers could not respond to the needs of our institutions and we could be forced to retrench. I thought, without consultation, (with some accent) that we could put an EAPI in every country and continue our service to the Church. How to continue our service to education would require a good amount of creativity and cooperation. I value the Pastoral Institutes dedicated more to research at the service of the Church than to lecturing and teaching, which could be reserved to cooperative inter-religious efforts.
In this way the problems will be defined pastorally and Theology, certainly less clerical, will have to define its own task. A Japanese Bishop at a certain occasion was asked the question, “Why do so few Japanese convert to the Catholic Church?” He responded in a cryptic way but with plenty of Prophetism: “Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Most of the Asian Religions or Spiritualities are religions interested in the way (how to be concentrated, how to pray, how to coordinate…) but most of the missionaries (especially from Europe) were interested in the Truth. As a consequence, we never met.”
In Asia it is not enough to say that we must be humble and imbued by the sense of mystery and the like. Rather, we have to show the way, and this is Pastoral.
In my years in Rome, I had the chance to visit almost the whole world. I am convinced now that Asia is the Way, Europeans and Americans are preoccupied with Truth, and Africa and Latin America with Life. We need all the cultures of the World to have the fullness of Christ.