Tuesday, January 31, 2006

New Encyclical doesn't mention "sin"

Here is a curious thing that no-one has commented on. In "Deus Caritas Est", the Pope doesn't mention "sin" once. Check it out yourself. Do a search. I've checked the Latin too, so it isn't the fault of the translators. Even "grace" only gets two mentions. What does this mean? Is this the explanation for his rather positive take on eros?

But he does use the word "purify" a lot. Two things come up for "purification" in this encyclical: eros and reason. Both "purifications" indicate that there is something amiss in the human exercise of these passions/faculties. So sin is there after all, lurking just behind the text.

I think this explains some reactions to the "eros" part of the Encyclical:

In the New York Times: "The Encyclical...did not mention abortion, homosexuality, contraception or divorce." Gee, they must have been disappointed!

Dr Janice Crouse, of Beverly LaHaye Institute: "When a pope defines love and sex in terms of a married husband and wife, there's going to be plenty of controversy."


Father Joseph Fessio, SJ: "What is he doing here? He is saying no divorce. He is saying no promiscuity. He is saying no multiple wives. No homosexuality. He's completely positive, but if you accept the teaching, consequences follow."

And what about the "purification of reason"? Lutherans (hullo to you all out there!) have always distrusted human reason--not so much because they doubt the powers of reason, as that they do not underestimate the power of human sin to sully the waters of rationality.

When the pope talks about the need to purify reason in the realms of politics and the media, however, one is tempted to ask "What reason?". Have you noticed how many people today are content to say "That's what I think" or "That's my opinion" without applying any reason or logic to their statements at all? Before we can "purify reason" there has to be some rationality there in the first place...

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