Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Pope to "save" erotic love

The Vatican is saying more about Papa Ratzi's first encyclical, due out any day. With the title Deus, caritas est (God is love), the document is supposed to talk about the relationship between agape, commonly referred to as "unconditional love," and eros, the blanket Greek word for human desire of various sorts, including sexual desire.

If Cardinal George is right in his comments that appeared in today's Chicago Sun-Times, the document might be pretty good: "What the pope is going to do is to try to save eros. That is to say that our own human love, our desires, are good in themselves. . . . The distinction between agape and eros is not a clean one. In fact, one influences the other and therefore both should be considered good. But we are sinful creatures, so they can be misused."

Don Senior, president of Chicago's Catholic Theological Union (my alma mater) and go-to guy for all Chicago-area religion reporters, had some more intriguing thngs to say: "[The pope] has spoken about, in a couple of his statements already, a 'soulless materialism,' so trying to integrate human experience with the divine is really fundamental to him.

"It may be that he's worried about a picture of human love or sexuality that is devoid of any connection to the divine. And in a strange way, it may be part of his response . . . to the clergy abuse crisis." Uh-oh.

It's that last part that makes me nervous, and I think Senior, who serves on the Pontifical Biblical Commission and so knows B16 (formerly the PBC's chair), is probably on to something. And given Papa Ratzi's record on sexuality, and especially in light of the recent ban on those with permanently "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies from seminary, I'm a little nervous.

And yet B16 has surprised before, and he may again. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


At 3:09 PM, Blogger boinky said...

The pope "save eros" obviously haven't read JP2's theology of the body...


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