Pastoral theology of Pierre-Andre Liege: a critical and comparative study in pastoral and practical theology
Pierre-Andre Liege (1921-1979) was a major French Catholic theologian and a prolific writer, whose pastoral ministry inspired thousands. He introduced la theologie pastorale into France, and was an influential figure behind the innovations of Vatican II. This thesis introduces Liege to English readers. Based upon primary sources, interviews, relevant secondary French literature, and the appraisal of representative British texts, it is an exercise in critical, comparative practical theology. It examines the social, ecclesiastical and theological context and content of Liege's pastoral theology. This was prophetic but uncompromising radical but systematic focussed on catechetics, and ambitious for disciples. It was inseparable from his life and action, and sought to reform church praxis in conformity with the gospel, thus building mature Eucharistic communities. The thesis goes on to explore the impact of Liege's work on contemporary and subsequent French practical theology. Then it critiques British practical theology through the lens of Liege's thought. The British approach is revealed as more individualistic and diffuse, focussed on pastoral care, not catechetics, and neither prophetic, nor seeking radical church reform. The thesis concludes that Liege's life and thought demonstrate an essential role for the practical theologian, and the need for a constandy renewed practical theology, if church praxis is to be reformed towards conformity with the gospel. It argues British practical theology can learn from Liege: His use of theology to drive praxis, to transcend its focus on individualistic pastoral care, and to discover a theological discourse transmitting faith could be used to enlarge the British perspective. The thesis proposes an agenda for possible development and change. By presenting Liege as an exemplar of French practical theology, the thesis demonstrates the general value of critical, comparative, international and interdenominational approaches to practical theology and broadens the shared understanding between countries, denominations and theological traditions.
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