Theological research is foundational to contributing to the new ardor, methods and means of expression of the faith Pope Saint John Paul II called for in the new evangelization. Theological areas of research will include, among others, Trinitarian theology, Christology, ecclesiology, liturgy and Sacraments, Christian anthropology, and moral theology (including the Church’s social teaching). Some research areas of interest of current Institute fellows include: St. John Paul II’s anthropology (including his theology of the body), marriage and family, the nuptial mystery, the Argentinian school’s teología del pueblo, the anthropology of myth, and the reprisal of the patristic theology of manifestation.
St. John Paul II indicated that to do Catholic theology from the heart of the Church, a sound philosophical system is necessary, including a self-consistent metaphysics. Many of today’s challenges to spreading the faith arise from the often-faulty philosophical viewpoints that are embedded in media and contemporary society, and by these means transmitted to individuals in society. This, often unwitting, acceptance of deficient philosophical views poses an obstacle to understanding and growing in faith for the baptized, and a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to acceptance of faith for all too many unbaptized. Philosophical research supporting the new evangelization will include identifying philosophies espoused by contemporary society and influencing individuals, for the ongoing evangelization of the baptized and pre-evangelization of the unbaptized. Philosophical areas of research include the natural law, natural theology, classical philosophy (including Christian Platonism and Thomism), and newer philosophical systems (especially the contemporary French school of phenomenology and the philosophy of religion).
Pastoral theology applies Church teaching to the life of the faithful in concrete ways in order to allow them to live the Christian faith more effectively. Research in this area assesses and promotes contemporary research found to be effective for pastoral care, as well as original MAI research based upon MAI research in other areas, in order to develop strategies for its pastoral application. Research areas include application of the catechumenate model for all areas of evangelization and catechesis, application of phenomenology to pre-evangelization, and the application of insights gained from research into theological “myth” for application to the kerygma.
Research is also conducted into the various approaches and lessons learned from world-wide apostolates and ecclesial movements already contributing to the new evangelization. Areas of research interest include adaptation of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) model for parish-based and individual application, and application of the Communion and Liberation model, favored by Pope Francis, for all aspects of the catechumenate, as well as for the adapted FOCUS model.