Pope Francis called Friday for a reform of the way theology is taught in Catholic schools, saying students must learn about dialogue with Judaism and Islam, and that overall there must be greater freedom in theological research and academic pursuits.
The Jesuit pope made the call during a speech at the Jesuit-run theology university in Naples. It follows his outreach this year to the Muslim world with the signing of a joint statement with the imam of Cairo's Al Azhar, establishing the relationship between Catholics and Muslims as brothers, with a common mission to promote peace.
In his speech, Francis said dialogue and partnership with the Muslim world is necessary "to build a peaceful existence, even when there are the troublesome episodes by fanatic enemies of dialogue."
Catholic theology students must learn the culture, language and way of thinking of Jews and Muslims "to better understand and live out our relationship," he said.
He called for a revision of the way theology is taught so that it focuses on welcome, dialogue and flexibility. In addition, lay people should be encouraged to take up theological studies, especially women, he said.