VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The "enormous and dramatic" changes that have swept across the world since Pope John Paul II was elected demand that Pope Benedict XVI seek a fresh way to answer the world's spiritual needs, said a Jesuit theologian in Rome.
"Faith is seeking; it's an ongoing process that needs a newness and freshness in a world that's changing so fast," said Australian Father Gerald O'Collins, professor emeritus at Rome's Gregorian University.
He said the "the rise of Islam," a globalized economy and powerful mass media "are all new factors" that need to be taken into consideration when proclaiming the Gospel message.
"We are in touch with many more people, many more cultures, the world is hugely changed. We can't just live in a library and pull books from a shelf" to answer the world's needs, he told Catholic News Service April 19.
The Church cannot "just repeat the language of 100 years ago," because to do so "is not facing reality," he said.
Father O'Collins served as an advocate for Belgian Jesuit Father Jacques Dupuis when Father Dupuis' book, "Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism," was being investigated by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Pope Benedict was head of the congregation at the time the 1998-2001 investigation was under way. The congregation concluded that the book contained no doctrinal errors, but there were "ambiguities and difficulties on important points which could lead a reader to erroneous or harmful opinions."
Father O'Collins said "everyone in theology is trying to understand" what faith is all about and "they're trying to translate it into contemporary language."
"Innovation (in theology) is needed. It's not about repeating the past, but seeking a new way forward," he said.
He said that by electing the 78-year-old former prefect of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation "the cardinals obviously opted for someone who wouldn't have a long papacy."
"There won't be any 26 years with this one," he said.
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