Doing Theology from the Existential Peripheries is a research project of the Migrants and Refugees Section (M&R) of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Holy See. It aims at deepening the teaching of Pope Francis and promoting a renewal of theology. The project is built on the belief that those who have been marginalised, whether socioeconomically, socially, or in other ways, hold a wisdom capable of reopening discourse, especially where there are tensions. Specifically, it seeks to uncover the sensus fidei fidelium of those often excluded from discourse within society and especially within the Church. In this way, we can nurture and grow Christian thought beginning from a deep sense of faith in order to transform lives and hearts once again.

During 2022, the M&R project team organised and carried out listening exercises in more than forty cities on every continent, with a focus on reaching people and groups that institutions tend not to recognise. Theologians from all over the world with diverse sensibilities and specialisations formed six continental research groups, working in collaboration with each other. One fundamental aspect of the project was the development of a methodology based on an openness to people’s experiences, specifically informed by their contexts. This type of listening has been a long-neglected, yet fundamental basis for rigorous critical thinking on theology, especially in the face of contemporary challenges.


The effort shared here was originally envisioned as a pilot project; however it also served as a synodal exercise in the field of theological inquiry and elaboration.

Through individual interviews and focus groups involving hundreds of women, youth, migrants, people, refugees, prisoners, members of ethnic and cultural minorities, the sick and differently abled, victims of abuse, and people who have left the Church, the M&R project team together with their collaborators gathered testimonies through which they could re-examine ten key themes of Pope Francis’ magisterium. From ecological consciousness to the culture of encounter, from the relationship between revelation and joy to the construction of new economic paradigms, from overcoming clericalism to the perspective of women, from welcoming the stranger to wisdom from the margins, passing through the rediscovery of vulnerability and tenderness and the need for hope and trust: these encounters represented a new set of priorities defined by the unprecedented conditions to which humanity is exposed and in which the Church carries out its mission. 

Doing Theology from the Existential Peripheries

The project team and regional coordinators with the Holy Father before the “Doing Theology from the Existential Peripheries” conference in Rome.

Doing Theology from the Existential Peripheries by the numbers:




theologians / pastoral workers


people interviewed