I started reading Deus Caritas Est expecting to be disappointed, chastised and generally laid low. An encyclical on love from a right-wing pope could only contain more damning condemnations of our materialistic, westernised society, more evocations of the “intrinsic evil” of contraception, married priests, homosexuality. It would surely continue the Church’s grand tradition of contempt for the erotic, a tradition that ensures a guilty hangover in any Roman Catholic who dares to indulge in lovemaking for any reason other than the primary one of reproduction. How wonderful it is to be proven wrong.Quite. I expect she's used to it by now, though. Here is a woman who appears to know absolutely nothing about the Church's moral theory or theology informing us that she's surprised to find that the Church does not teach what she, in her ignorance, assumed that it did teach. When she finds out that it never did teach what she assumed that it did, I expect she will find it even more wonderful, because the surprise will be greater.
Also of interest to me was the fact that Stephen Crittenden, religion correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, quoted from DCE the passage where the Holy Father refers to Nietzsche's infamous claim that Christianity had poisoned eros, causing it to degenerate into a vice, in order to support his approving claim that "this document dialogues with everybody." This is interesting for two reasons. First, and most importantly, it is quite clear to anybody who reads the encyclical with even minimal care that Benedict XVI is not quoting Nietzsche with anything like approval. In the section immediately following the quotation Benedict compares the role of eros in the pre-Christian world with the treatment it got from the Church, and then draws the conclusion that, as far as Christian teachings go:
Far from rejecting or "poisoning" eros, they heal it and restore its true grandeur.That's the kind of dialoguing with error that I like, but it shouldn't come as such a shock to the likes of Stephen Crittenden that one should quote one's opponent before shredding him. Or maybe it should--he is just a journalist, after all.
As I ponder the encyclical I am struck, over and over again, by the consistency of its message with John Paul's Theology of the Body and, indeed, with the whole of the Church's Tradition. I'll never cease to be amused by the hopeless pundits of the left, those dinosaurs who continue to play football as though Knute Rockne had never existed, running and running their pointless, old fashioned arguments about this or that changing while the rest of us are watching the spectacular passes by means of which the Church moves forward in Her own way, with logical consistency and historical continuity.
Thanks again to Chris Blosser for all of his hard work.