Skip to comments.Pope on divine love vs. erotic love
Posted on 01/04/2006 7:31:11 AM PST by klossg
Pope Benedict XVI may try to "save eros," in the first encyclical of his papacy, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George told the Chicago Sun-Times.
George expects the new pope will try to explain that erotic love, eros, and unconditional love, agape, are both inherently good in God's eyes in his encyclical titled "Deus, Caritas Est," Latin for "God is Love." An encyclical is a pope's most authoritative document, a pastoral letter circulated to the universal church.
Letter talks about Christ
The cardinal has not yet seen Benedict XVI's encyclical, which is expected to be released by the Vatican within days, but said he has "seen comments" about it. The pope has asked George to deliver an address about the major themes of the encyclical to a gathering of the pontifical charity organization Cor Unum in Rome at the end of the month, according to Colleen Dolan, the cardinal's spokeswoman.
Benedict XVI's first encyclical will likely "talk about Christ, which is a good thing for a pope to talk about in his first encyclical. John Paul II did that," George said. "And he is going to talk about the relationship between love and truth, between agape and eros."
Agape (pronounced "ah-gah-pay") is a Greek word, referring to unconditional love, the kind Catholic doctrine teaches God has for humankind. Eros was the Greek god of love, and his name has come to refer to sexual love or desire.
In the mid-1900s, Anders Nygren, a Lutheran bishop from Sweden, published a book called Eros and Agape, in which he concluded that agape is the only truly Christian kind of love.
"In a kind of Lutheran fashion, he distinguished between agape, the love of God in us, which is good; and eros, which is our own erotic life and desire, which turns us away from God," George said. "He said that in English 'love' is ambiguous and you have to distinguish between these two. And you do.
"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."
A pope's first encyclical is seen as setting the tone for the rest of his papacy. Pope John Paul II, who died in April, published 14 encyclicals during his 27-year pontificate.
What will it mean if Benedict XVI tackles the issue of erotic love versus divine love?
"It might be part of his overall program of trying to not let things become purely secularized and devoid of religious connection," the Rev. Donald Senior, president of Chicago's Catholic Theological Union, said by phone from Rome on Monday night.
'Purifying the church'
Senior is there for a meeting of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, which was led by Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, before he became pope in April.
"He 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," Senior said.
"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.
"He talked about 'purifying the church.' Maybe this is part of his way of doing it," Senior speculated.
The pope, who is said to have begun work on his first encyclical last summer, is a scholar of St. Augustine, who famously had a hard time reconciling erotic and divine love.
"Maybe he's going to try to repair Augustine a bit," Senior said, adding that he has not seen the encyclical and had expected it to be solely about Christology, or the study of Christ.
The pontiff's "focus is so much more dogmatic. Nevertheless, he does have a very emotional way of speaking. In his homilies and stuff, people have been noting that they're all very rich in imagery and much more affective than cerebral," Senior said. "Bavarians are very sentimental and romantic."
Why is this in breaking news?
Somebody [I forgot the name under the quote] said "God is love, but get it in writing".
Imagine MY papal paper on this topic.
Because the Pope is so cool.
Clearly it's the Pope
trying to cash in on the
Brokeback Mountain hype . . .
You're cool, too, Laz.
This is my first article post. I thought anything that was todays date would be breaking. Please remove that category it if I have the idea wrong.
Think: Orange marmalade. Monkeys. Trapezes. Sears Wet-N-Dry vaccuums.
I could never be as cool as the Pope.
He's too cool for school.
I agree. Another reason not to have school ...
I am lucky..I GET BOTH WITH THE SAME LADY
To the poster, sorry for the hijack. Might want to pull this one and try again. Maybe Laz (and I) have it out of our systems.
What say LAZ?
If Benedict XVI did nothing else in his papacy, correcting Augustine's disdain for the human body and its desires would serve mankind immensely.
The idea that sexual desire is somehow sinful in itself is still very much with us, despite John Paul II's strong theologizing to the contrary. Perhaps it takes a disciple of Augustine to bring the world this "Nixon goes to China" moment.
Let us rid humanity of Manicheaism and its dualism forever!
Not even a tiny chance.
Are you implying that the Pope is going to write about homosexual "love"? Have you read ANY history about this man?