After quoting the famous “signs of the times” passage in Gaudium et spes (4), the International Theological Commission [= ITC] tells us that theologians have the obligation to engage the questions of their age, but with caution.1 The ITC document continues by making an astonishing claim: “The more acute understanding of the world that results [from this discernment] cannot fail to prompt a more penetrating appreciation of Christ the Lord and of the Gospel since Christ is the Saviour of the world.”2 In knowing the outlines of the world better, we can detect more insightfully the contours of the One who comes to save it.
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1. We must discern the “needs and aspirations of humanity” within our own time (International Theological Commission, “Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria” [Vatican City, 29 November 2011], 54, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_cti_doc_20111129_teologia-oggi_en.html). “In all cases, discernment must carefully distinguish between elements compatible with the Gospel and those contrary to it, between positive contributions and ideological aspects” (55). This whole section is entitled “Listening to the World” (51–58). Regarding gender fluidity, the recent document by the Congregation on Catholic Education engaged in just that project of distinction (“Male and Female He Created Them”: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education [Vatican City, 2 February 2019], http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_20190202_maschio-e-femmina_en.pdf).
2. ITC, “Theology Today,” 55, citing Gaudium et spes, 44 (emphasis added).