The renewal of the Faculty of Missiology

Bryan Lobo, S.J. | Dean of the Faculty of Missiology

by Bryan Lobo, S.J.

Dean of the Faculty of Missiology

How does missiology understand itself two thousand years after
the earthly life of Jesus? The reformulation of the academic programmes
of the Faculty of Missiology is the fruit of an in-depth reflection involving
its professors and the faculty of the Centre for Interreligious Studies,
leading to a revision of the curricula and courses.

The Faculty of Missiology, aware of the rapidly unfolding challenges of the current “new era”, has embarked on a process of reflection that has led to a redefinition of its epistemological statute and, consequently, to a redefinition of its academic programmes. This process has involved the professors of the Faculty as well as the Centre for Interreligious Studies, with which the Faculty closely collaborates. 
The expression ‘epistemological status’ refers to the regulatory structure of knowing or applying a given subject. In other words, what is the self-understanding of missiology today, more than two thousand years after the historical event of Jesus Christ and his missionary mandate? 

What is the relevance of missiology today?
The answer to this question is that “missiology is a science that studies all aspects of the Church’s mission, rooted in themissio Dei, in the person of Jesus Christ and in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, according to the cultural and religious contexts it encounters and the challenges it is called to face in today’s world.”
It is therefore “a dialogical and integral discipline which, through the dynamic and enriching interaction between the sacred sciences (theology, biblical studies) and the human sciences (history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc.), seeks to give a powerful impulse to the educational path for a sharper, more thorough and more updated understanding of the Christian mission.”

Accordingly, the academic offering of the Faculty of Missiology aims at innovation and dynamism through a transdisciplinary approach and the activation of processes “that will help individuals, local Churches, and the Church as a whole, to live and bear dialogical witness to the Christian faith in its interaction with the world, with the poor, with cultures and religions.”
Following the revision of the epistemological statute of the Faculty, its profile was updated and finally approved by the Governing Board on January 24, 2023. The new profile of the Faculty of Missiology includes three paths of study that are both autonomous and complementary:

  • Mission Ad Gentes and Inter Gentes
  • Mission in contemporary societies
  • Mission, Dialogue and Religions.

The Faculty of Missiology, with this new approach and the relaunch of its academic offerings, renews its commitment to provide specific and qualified formation for evangelisation in the different world contexts; for those preparing to teach missiological subjects in universities, particular Churches or institutes; for the teaching of the Catholic religion in Italian schools.

First evangelisation and particular Churches
The path of studies in Mission Ad Gentes and Inter Gentes promotes the “missionary conversion” of the whole Church, as called for in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, to have the courage to reach all the peripheries that need the light of the Gospel.

This path of study focuses on first evangelisation and the growth of particular churches. Through an in-depth study of the scriptural, doctrinal, theological, historical and anthropological content of the fundamental themes of missiology, it promotes evangelisation by means of an encounter based on “love and respect”, ready to “learn through sincere and patient dialogue what treasures a generous God has distributed among the nations of the earth” (AG 11). This area of study analyses “the processes of inculturation of faith and the social dimension of evangelisation from an intercultural perspective.” 

Contemporary societies and culture
Secularisation and non-belief, post-modernity or liquid modernity, the emergence of post-secularism, religious pluralism, widespread religious disaffection, especially among young people, the digital realm, global consumer culture, the crisis of democracy and the rise of populist and identity movements, post-truth, the ecological crisis, migration, urbanisation. ... these and many others are the consequences of the rift between the Gospel and culture, which, as Blessed Paul VI noted, is “the drama of our times.”

The programme of studies in Mission in Contemporary Societies seeks to promote evangelisation through the discernment of the signs of the times and the scholarly study of the complex social, cultural, economic and political circumstances that characterise contemporary cultures and societies (PE 57).
Through rigorous interdisciplinary, theological and missiological reflection, with attention to pastoral practice in relation to these and similar realities, this area of study aims to promote the inherent renewal of the Gospel in the encounter with world cultures, and thereby to develop a more effective way of proclaiming the Gospel in these contexts, identifying the most appropriate approaches, tools and language. 

Interreligious dialogue
The third area of study proposed by our Faculty - Mission, Dialogue and Religions - is designed to offer an educational path for the study and in-depth analysis of the various dimensions of interreligious dialogue in the context of the universal mission of the Church.

The course will be characterised by an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach aimed at integrating the study of theology of religions with that of comparative theology of religions, theology of dialogue and contextual theologies, taking into account the contribution of the human sciences and providing a sufficient knowledge of each religion. More specifically, it will examine the development of theological and missiological reflection on the relational and existential dimensions of the encounter between believers of different religious traditions and spiritualities in their respective cultural contexts, and the implications for the religious communities concerned.