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What social developments are shaping our lives? How is religion developing? Which current questions and needs can be seen as "symptoms of our times"? What personality type makes for a good pastoral carer? What constitutes a good sermon? What do people see as the meaning of their lives? Why do people join or leave the Church? What are the expectations of a young couple who want to have their child baptized? What kind of care and counseling do situations of death and grief require?
These are some of the many possible questions pastoral theology deals with. It is one of the practical fields of theology and is thus a theory-based as well as an application-oriented science. It reflects the common practice critically and in an action-oriented way. In this process it involves the theories and methods of other sciences, above all sociology and psychology.
The interconnectedness of theory and practice applies not only to the content of the subject, but also to teaching. Exchanging experiences and ideas, discussion and interaction is a natural part of pastoral theological work, as is the perception and analysis of fields of practice. We might, for instance, explore different places to see how gospel and culture relate to each other. Empirical research approaches can give us insights into lifeworld and biographical contexts and allow us to interpret them theologically.
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