Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus

Deacon Luca De Muro defends his Baccalaureate Thesis


1 June 2016, STS – Jerusalem

By: Vladimir Plasek, SDB

On June 1st Deacon Luca De Muro successfully passed the Baccalaureate Exam and became a Bachelor of Theology. The topic of his thesis was: “God and the Human Being, a continuous dialogue.” His tutor was Fr. David Neuhaus and the reader Fr. Matthew Coutinho.

In his synthesis, Deacon Luca made use of the experience of dialogue of his life, having lived two years in Albania and four years in Jerusalem, there facing the challenges of different cultures, languages and religions (Islam). His synthesis consists of three chapters: Dialogue in the Scriptures, Dialogue in History, and Dialogue at the Second Vatican Council.

The first chapter deals with the scriptural roots of the concept of dialogue, analyzing the dialogical approach of God towards humanity, in the life of Noah, Abraham, Moses and the Prophets in the Old Testament and its fulfilment in Jesus and the Apostles. The second chapter traces the development and adaptation of the concept of dialogue in the various philosophical and theological thoughts, from the Classical to the modern era, pointing out the Socratic dialogical method, apology of St. Justin, the dialectical method of St. Thomas Aquinas and finally the concept of “Anonymous Christianity” in the theology of K. Rahner.  The third chapter shows the “turning point” that occurred during the second Vatican Council, focusing the attention of the dialogue of the Church with the world of men and where other religions are here described as worthy of appreciation on the side of Church.    Deacon Luca concentrated on the first encyclical of Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, in the sense that “the whole history of man’s salvation is one long, varied dialogue.”

In his work, Deacon Luca has tried to demonstrate that dialogue is not a new concept born out of the necessity of coexistence with other religions. It is a concept rooted in the very essence of our being that we are created in the image of God, developed in the history of Church as a journey of decisive encounters as milestones with the pinnacle event in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The humanity in this constant dialogue plays the role of an active participant, not a passive recipient.

Tutor Fr. David Neuhaus pointed out that during his fruitful work, Deacon Luca made good choices to grasp the crucial points without losing the view of entirety of many ideas and personalities. He also remarked that the synthesis opened many questions that might lead to answers in future, especially related to the continuity and novelty of the dialogue. Deacon Luca answered that the history of the Church was always a kind of “tension”.  Therefore also the second Vatican Council was not a rupture with the history of the Church, but a novelty in taking a new approach. The concept of “monopoly of salvation”, thus obtaining a new light “without Christ there is no salvation”. The salvific mission of Christ, the Paschal mystery, is the aim for all, not only for Christians. Thus the term ‘People of God’ is to be considered as it opens new horizons in terms of the ecumenical dialogue, interreligious dialogue and dialogue with atheists.

To the question of the reader Fr. Matthew Coutinho, “Which are the key elements of proclamation that can never be compromised in dialogue?” Deacon Luca responded that the essential points are connected with addressees of the dialogue and therefore it is the modality that is changing, but we cannot speak about non-negotiable elements.

The question of Fr. Biju Michael, the head of the examining commission and Principal of the STS and answer of Deacon Luca led to an important element, that there is a role in circumstances and the historical moment can challenge us to reflect how to deal with persons. The circumstances do not build the identity, but the dialogical dimension is the proper element of every relationship. We have to incarnate the personal core relationship of God to create dialogue with another person.

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