1 Studia Moralia Biannual Review published by the Alphonsian Academy Revista semestral publicada por la Academia Alfonsiana VOL. 45 / EDITIONES ACADEMIAE ALFONSIANAE Via Merulana Roma, Italia
2 140 E.KOWALSKI anche la nostra volontà e il nostro intelletto, dando l inizio ad un processo quello di fede e di amore che rimane continuamente in cammino (Deus caritas est, n. 17). La Croce, come scandalo per i Giudei e la stoltezza per i pagani utilizzando il linguaggio teologico paolino è in se stessa, infatti, una vera e propria sfida (provocazione) sia per la Ragione che per la Fede. Il Mistero della Croce rivela la sua piena e profonda portata teologico-morale soltanto alla luce del Mistero della Risurrezione e della fede post-pasquale della Chiesa primitiva (la comunità di fede e d amore, la Chiesa di koinonia e di diaconia, la carità della Chiesa come manifestazione dell amore trinitario ; Deus caritas est, Parte II). EDMUND KOWALSKI, C.SS.R. The author is an Extraordinary Professor at the Alphonsian Academy. El autor es profesor extraordinario en la Academia Alfonsiana.
3 PRESENTATION OF STUDIA MORALIA 45 / 1 Since its publication, Deus caritas est has been the object of close attention in many circles. Within the Alphonsian Academy, reflection on the first encyclical of Benedict XVI has taken various forms, some of which are compiled in this number of Studia Moralia. The volume divides into three sections. The first, which can serve as a general introduction to the encyclical, is based on an initial discussion, organized by the Academy in May The second, more extensive, section includes five reflections on the encyclical, from five different disciplinary perspectives, presented at the Academy in the course of a day of study in November These correspond more or less to the division of the curriculum of studies at the Academy: Scripture, Patrology, Fundamental moral, Social ethics and Anthropology. In this way it has been possible to mine the richness of a text which, apart from its popular appeal, has much to say to the various specialisations. The third section of the volume contains two brief reflections offered by professors of the Academy in the light of themes raised during the day of study. It is the fervent hope of the Editorial Board that these various reflections may help raise awareness among our readers of the import of the Pope s message for moral theology. MARTIN MCKEEVER C.SS.R., Secretary of the Editorial Board
4 PRESENTACIÓN DE STUDIA MORALIA 45 / 1 Desde su publicación la Carta Encíclica de Benedicto XVI, Deus caritas est, ha sido objeto de una especial atención por parte de muchos círculos de estudio. La Academia Alfonsiana se ha ocupado de ella en varias ocasiones. El presente volumen de Studia Moralia ofrece a los lectores de nuestra revista los diversos estudios realizados sobre la Deus caritas est en la Academia Alfonsiana, en tres secciones: la primera sirve como de introducción general al estudio de la encíclica; corresponde a la discusión inicial organizada por la Academia en Mayo La segunda, más extensa, incluye cinco relaciones hechas durante una jornada de estudio en noviembre del Cada una de estas corresponde al plan de estudio de la Academia Alfonsiana: s. Escritura, patrología, moral fundamental, doctrina social y antropología. Dentro de esta perspectiva fue posible penetrar en la riqueza del texto pontificio. Además de la atracción popular que ha suscitado la encíclica, ésta puede ser objeto de estudio por parte de otras áreas. La tercera sección de este número de Studia Moralia contiene dos breves reflexiones hechas por profesores de la Academia inspirándose en los temas de la Jornada de Estudio llevada a cabo (Nov. 2006). El deseo de la Dirección de la revista es que los distintos estudios ofrecidos puedan ayudar a nuestros lectores a profundizar el importante mensaje de Benedicto XVI para la Teología Moral. MARTIN MCKEEVER C.SS.R., Secretario de Redacción
5 PRESENTAZIONE DI STUDIA MORALIA 45 / 1 Dalla sua pubblicazione Deus caritas est è stata oggetto di ampia e approfondita attenzione. All interno dell Accademia Alfonsiana, la riflessione sulla prima enciclica di Benedetto XVI ha preso varie forme, alcune delle quali sono confluite in questo numero di Studia Moralia. Il volume si articola in tre parti. La prima, che può servire come introduzione generale all enciclica, si basa su una discussione iniziale, organizzata dall Accademia nel maggio La seconda, più estesa, include cinque riflessioni sull enciclica presentate in Accademia durante una giornata di studio nel novembre Queste corrispondono indicativamente alla divisione del curriculum di studio dell Accademia: Sacra Scrittura, Patrologia, Morale fondamentale, Morale sociale e Antropologia. In questa maniera è stato possibile far emergere le ricchezze di un testo che, aldilà della sua dimensione divulgativa, ha molto da offrire alle varie specializzazioni. La terza parte contiene due brevi riflessioni proposte da professori dell Accademia alla luce dei temi scaturiti durante la giornata di studio. È fervente auspicio della Redazione che queste riflessioni possano aumentare tra i nostri lettori la consapevolezza dell apporto dell enciclica per la teologia morale. MARTIN MCKEEVER C.SS.R., Segretario di Redazione
6 Studia Moralia Vol. 45 / 1 June / Junio 2007 CONTENTS / ÍNDICE Presentation / Presentación 3 Introduction / Introducción B. PETRÀ, Deus caritas est: A Thematic and Conceptual Analysis of Part One R. GALLAGHER, The Practice of Love by the Church: Part Two of Deus caritas est Study Day / Jornada de Estudio J.S. BOTERO, Introducción a la jornada de estudio A. WODKA, Tratti biblici del Dio-Agape nell Enciclica Deus caritas est R. TREMBLAY, Regarder le Christ transpercé, lieu d émergence de la vie et de l amour. Indications pour une morale fondamentale L. SALUTATI, La dimensione sociale dell enciclica Deus caritas est vista alla luce della proposta di economia civile B. PETRÀ, Scrittori ecclesiastici antichi, Padri e Chiesa dei Padri nella Deus caritas est S. PALUMBIERI, Un binomio costitutivo: Éros e Agápe, tra dono e impegno Reflections / Reflecciones E. KOWALSKI, Per una fondazione dell etica: dall eros umano all agape e alla carità D.J. BILLY, Deus caritas est: A Note on Philia
7 StMor 45 (2007) BASILIO PETRÀ DEUS CARITAS EST: A THEMATIC AND CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS OF PART ONE Introduction As we read in 1, the explicit intention of the Encyclical is to reconnect the name of God with love; in today s world, this name is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence. The pope says: For this reason, I wish in my first Encyclical to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others. This explains the division of the Letter into two major parts: the first intended to clarify some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously and gratuitously offers to man, together with the intrinsic link between that Love and the reality of human love ; The second part is more concrete, since it treats the ecclesial exercise of the commandment of love of neighbour. (Deus caritas est, 1). Keeping this division in mind, this presentation, dedicated to the first part of the enyclical, will take the following form. It will first of all briefly indicate the thematic and conceptual content of the 17 numbers which compose the first part. It will then seek to note some fundamental choices which guide the papal exposition, bringing to light some inevitable and surprising consequences. Finally, it will briefly note some themes of this first part which are of special interest to theology, in particular to moral theology, and which warrant further development. Thematic and conceptual analysis of the First Part The first part can be understood as divided into three sections.
8 12 BASILIO PETRÀ First Section (Deus caritas est, 2-8) At the beginning we find a set of reflections which goes from 2 to 8 and which has as its main object the question posed immediately in 2, namely if there is only one love the semantic field of which is vast (love of country, of work, of friends, of parents, of children etc.) which takes many forms or if the word really indicates very different realities. The answer is given in 8. In this number we are told that love is a unique reality with various dimensions (eros/agape): at different times one or other dimension may emerge more clearly. The two dimensions must never be completely separated. Where this happens the result is a caricature or at least an impoverished form of love ( 8). Between these two numbers we find a reflection on the relationship eros/agape which begins with affirmations of an anthropological nature and ends with the Gospel and the form of existence of Jesus of Nazareth. The pope begins, in fact, with the affirmation that the archetype of love is that between man and woman, a love which involves body and soul and which contains the promise of irresistible happiness ( 2); it is this love which was called eros by the Greeks ( 3). He then observes that the New Testament leaves aside eros preferring agape, but this does not mean that Nietzsche s extremely grave accusation that Christianity had poisoned eros is true ( 3) 1. On the contrary, Christianity declared war on the false, pagan divinization of eros, which deprives man of his dignity and dehumanizes him ; eros needs to be disciplined and purified in order to truly give what it promises, that is a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns ( 4). In fact, love/eros promises infinity, eternity, things beyond the sphere of everyday life and not attainable by following instinct: purifications and maturations are necessary, it is necessary that eros be healed ( 5). Why is this so? Because the constitution of man (soul and body) is exposed to the risk of division, of conflict, of disharmony: in order that eros not be betrayed there should be neither 1 The pope refers here to Beyond Good and Evil, IV.
9 DEUS CARITAS EST, PART 1 13 rejection of the body nor exaltation of the body, dominant today. Soul and body should be: truly united, a unified creature, a unity in duality, this demands a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing ( 5). Eros in order to be itself has to become agape, it has to rise to higher levels, that is toward agapic levels characterised by exclusivity (one person only) and by forever. It must really become ecstatic love not in the sense of a moment of intoxication but rather in the sense of an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through selfgiving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed discovery of God. An exodus like that of Jesus: a path like that of the grain of wheat which dies, a path like the personal path of Jesus. 6 dwells on this point offering also a certain reading of the Canticle of Canticles, in which there seems to be a use of verbs which indicate a development in the forms of love: da dodim (=indeterminate love) which is still seeking and ahabà (=love as a true discovery of the other), overcoming the initial egoistical character of love. In 7 the pope is thus able to say that these first somewhat philosophical reflections have led by their own inner logic to the threshold of biblical faith, that is to say to love as it appears in the Scripture, a love which sees a profound unity between eros and agape and does not set them in opposition to each other. The implicit (negative) reference is to A. Nygren ( ) 2, who is not explicitly quoted; the pope, in any case, does not set up against each other eros and agape, human love and divine love, love from above and love from below. This paragraph intends in fact to emphasise that already on the anthropological level the dynamism of eros (ascendent love, or amor concupiscentiae) is naturally orientated toward agape (descending love or amor benevolentiae) and that only agape can render eros true. The fact that the Scripture says the same thing opens up ever wider dimensions of understanding and actualization. This explains the attempt to show the dynamism which transforms eros into agape ( Even if eros is at first mainly cov- 2 The work in which Nygren expresses the idea which led to his fame is Eros and Agape, published in Sweden in the years and then translated into many languages. Later Nygren critically revised his thesis.
10 14 BASILIO PETRÀ etous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing nearer to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to be there for the other ) and the affirmation that in love there needs to be a giving and receiving. This explains also the use of biblical images which Benedict XVI, basing himself on some of the Fathers, reads as an expression of the same logical unity between eros and agape, ascending love and discending love: Jacob s ladder, Paul s mystical rapture, the holy tent of Moses. Having established, then, the unity between eros and agape we arrive at the response in 8, discussed above. This unity is established anthropologically as well as with reference to biblical faith. This allows us to confront directly the question: what is the relationship between biblical faith and love as an original human phenomenon, that is to say between biblical faith and the search for love (which is the unity of eros and agape)? To clarify this point, it is necessary to go to the newer elements of biblical faith, that is to say those which characterise it most strongly and which make it stand out within the religious-cultural world of humanity. The newness of biblical faith is shown chiefly in two elements which deserve to be highlighted: the image of God and the image of man 8. This brings us to the second section. Second Section (Deus caritas est, 9-15) This has for its subject the novelty which Scripture brings to the understanding and to the actualisation of human love. The section is itself divided into two parts: the first concerns the new biblical images of God and of man (DCE, 9-11). The second presents the good news become flesh who is Jesus Christ and his act of offering himself for love. This act remains accessible, we can participate in it in an historically durable and realistic form in the Eucharist, the sacrament which manifests also the intrinsic link between the love of God and the love of neighbour (DCE, 12-15). First of all, then, biblical faith offers new images of God. God is one (Dt 6,4), Creator of heaven and earth, creator of
11 DEUS CARITAS EST, PART 1 15 human beings. In contradistinction to the God of Aristotle, God is a God who loves, who loves human beings personally and by choice, who loves gratuitously. It is no accident that the prophets Hosea and Ezechiel use the metaphor of engagement and marriage and the Israelite discovers in the faithful and just love of God a joy in God which becomes his essential happiness. God in fact loves with a love which can be certainly called eros, yet is also totally agape (this is said with reference to Dionysius the Areopagite, De divinis nominibus, IV, 12-14, where both terms are applied indistinctly to God ( 9). This erotic and agapic character of divine love is revealed not only in the erotic-agapic gratuity of his love but also in the fact that it is a love which pardons. It is a love so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice. Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross: so great is God s love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death and so reconciles justice and love ( 10). This biblical image of God is a strictly metaphysical image : that is to say, it tells us that God the absolute and ultimate source of all being, universal principle of creation the Logos, primordial reason-... is from the beginning a lover with all the passion of a true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape. This erotic-agapic character of divine love grounds the possibility of reading the Canticle of Canticles with regard to the relation of love between God and humanity, just as it grounds the idea and the possibility of union with God the «primordial aspiration» of man - not as fusion or as losing oneself in the divine ocean but as becoming one without losing oneself 10. In the second place biblical faith offers a new image of man. The text refers to Gen 2, and thus to the creation of woman as man s exit from loneliness in that she is the completion of his very being. The search for fullness is not presented as a punishment (as in the myth of the androgynous split) but as an expression of the constitutive complementarity of the human being. For this reason two important affirmations can be made: eros is somehow rooted in man s very nature ; From the standpoint of creation, eros directs man toward marriage, to a bond that is unique and definitive. Here the pope under-
12 16 BASILIO PETRÀ lines strongly the tie between monotheism and monogamy: Corresponding to the image of a monotheistic God is monagomous marriage. Marriage based on exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa. God s way of loving becomes the measure of human love ( 11). Still, the real novelty in the Bible, that of the New Testament, does not consist in new ideas and images but in the reality of Christ, which gives flesh and blood to concepts - an unheard of realism. He is the incarnated love of God. God s love, in fact, fully reveals itself in the person of Jesus and in his radical love for man, a love which goes as far as giving itself in his death on the cross ( = God s turning against himself). In the crucified Jesus, in his pierced side, we can contemplate the truth that God is love. Indeed it is from here, from the cross and the crucifixion, that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move ( 12). This act of oblation of the crucified has an enduring presence in history through the Eucharist. In this sacrament we are attracted to and involved in the dynamic of his self-giving and there takes place really in Jesus (in the body and blood) that nuptial union with God which the Old Testament had only imagined. A union so real that in it man reaches higher than any mystical elevation can bring him ( 13). The mystical reality of the sacrament (the Eucharist) is also social in character, for in sacramental communion I become one with the Lord, like all the other communicants. The pope cites here 1 Cor 10, 17 and underlines that the union with Christ is immediately union with the other ( I can not have Christ just for me ). The Eucharist shows this clearly. For this reason the pope says that Only by keeping in mind this Christological and sacramental basis can we correctly understand Jesus teaching on love. Faith, ritual and ethos thus penetrate each other mutually and there is no opposition between them. The pope adds: Worship itself, Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn ( 14). The commandment of love of God and of the neighbour, therefore, is on the one hand one single commandment and on the other it can be commanded because the love has already
13 DEUS CARITAS EST, PART 1 17 been given. This particular dynamic helps us to understand better various gospel parables: the rich man; the good Samaritan: the final judgement Mt 25, ( 15). Having clarified the novelty of biblical thought concerning human love, the third section takes up two very concrete questions for Christian life, as Benedict XVI has often said. Section Three (Deus caritas est,16-18) The questions to which offer responses are quite clear: is it possible to love God whom we do not see? and can love be commanded? As regards the first question, the pope responds by noting that, in Scripture, the love of God without love of neighbour is a lie (1 Jn 4, 20) and that without love of neighbour one becomes blind not only with respect to one s brothers and sisters but also with respect to God, with the result that one misses the path to God ( 16). What is more he says God is visible in a number of ways by means of which he comes toward us: in Jesus, in human beings (the history of the Church) in whom he appears, or in his Word, in his Sacraments, in particular the Eucharist; in the liturgy of the Church, in the living community of believers ( 17). Therefore we experience the love of God, we perceive it and we can know it in everyday life. For this reason we too, then, can respond with love. God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing ( 17). Indeed the original sentiment which here as in every love can be a marvellous first spark has to become love which involves the whole person: intellect, will, sentiment, united in the totalizing act of love. This is a process which shapes itself over time as a growing communion of will, of thought and of feeling (the pope quotes here authors such as Sallust 3 and St. 3 The pope records in this context: Idem velle atque idem nolle (Sallust, De coniuratione Catilinae,XX, 4) - to want the same thing and to reject the same thing- was recognised by antiquity as the authentic content of love: the one becomes similar to the other, this leads to a community of will and thought 17.
14 18 BASILIO PETRÀ Augustine 4 ) to the degree that the commandments of God become simply the will of the person as such ( 17). In this union of love in God and with God it becomes possible to love the neighbour as Jesus did even the person whom I do not like or even know. The eyes and the feelings of Jesus become, have to become, my own eyes and feelings. Here appears completely clear what we read in 1 Jn about the necessary interplay between the love of God and the love of neighbour : if the first is wanting, the other will always remain other (I will not see in him or her the divine image); if the second is wanting the relationship with God will dry up. They are inseparable, both, however, live from the love of God who loved us first ( 18). The closing words of Part One are particularly important because they emphasize that human love is certainly human love but even more than this, it is truly divine because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a we which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is «all in all» ( 18). Conclusion The development of the argument is thus quite linear. Created eros find its truth in agape which is existence as lived out and exemplified in Jesus; Hebrew and Christian Revelation not only show up the origin and the sense of human eros, but they also render accessible the truth of this in the love of Jesus Christ shared in the Eucharist, where the openness to the love of God in Jesus Christ stimulates and obliges us to love as our response to God and to neighbour in an inseparable and ever fuller form. This line of argument seems to me to be faithful to the title of the first part: The Unity of Love in Creation and in Salvation History. 4 Writing that God is closer to me than I am to myself ( 17) the pope connects these words with Augustine s famous statement Tu autem eras interior intimo meo et superior summo meo (Confessiones III, 6, 11; CCL 27, 32); see note 10 of the Encyclical.
15 DEUS CARITAS EST, PART 1 19 Fundamental choices which guide the papal exposition and some consequences which follow The fundamental choices which guide the exposition have already emerged in what we have said thus far: the pope chooses to affirm with force the original unity between eros and agape and to insist on the positive role a role not to be surpassed and not to be substituted by any another role which christian revelation plays or and can play in the agapic realization of eros, which is then true human happiness. The pope wants to explain that Nietzsche is wrong, that Nygren is wrong, that the culture is wrong which opposes agape and sees agape only as a way of limiting human love on the basis of a radical suspicion of human sexuality and the body. Equally wrong are those who think of agape in too individualistic and disincarnate a form, or who think of christian love as moral correctness and not as life given to God and to the neighbour. This is a giving which involves each believer and the people of believers in the historical realization of charity which finds its centre in the Eucharist. However, these choices have a less clear side, since some essential aspects of the christian vision of eros and agape seem to remain at the margins. This is an aspect which can be easily illustrated: it will be enough to expose the text to some analysis at a linguistic level. For example, if we search for the word Trinity or trinitarian in the Encyclical, we discover that in the whole text we find just one use of trinitarian and one of Trinity, both in 19, which is the first number of the second part. Trinitarian terminology, then, is never used in the whole of the first part, in which nonetheless the new image of God which emerges in the Scripture is discussed. Apart from this, the actual use of trinitarian language which is made in 19 is somewhat confusing. In fact, it is only used in the title of the number The Church s charitable activity as a manifestation of Trinitarian love and in the first words of the same number which are a quotation from St. Augustine If you see love, you see the Trinity (De Trinitate, VIII, 8. 12: CL, 50,287). The strange thing is that if we remove the title and this Augustinian quotation, 19 not only loses nothing but remains
16 20 BASILIO PETRÀ perfectly intact. It seems almost as if these explicitly trinitarian words were added afterwards to a text which was already completed without such language. If we add to this very simple investigation another example of the use of language concerning the term comunion, interesting things emerge. The word is present 8 times in the first part and 3 times in the second part. Thus, in 4, we find the word where the pope speaks of the pagan sense of eros and says in fact that in the fertility rites eros was celebrated as divine power, as fellowship with the Divine. In 11 it is used to say that the Biblical idea of man can be completed only by actual communion with the other. 14 uses this term three times but in the specific sense of sacramental eucharistic communion, even though the effect of such sacramental communion is recognised in becoming one body with Christ and in Him with all christians (We become «one body» completely joined in a single existence). In 17 (twice) and in 18 the word communion is used to speak of communion of will, thought and feeling which constitute the evolving story of love between God and the single person. In 20, we are already in the second part we find communion three times, on the basis of At 2, in order to indicate putting everything in common ( a form of material union ) which characterises the apostolic community of Jerusalem. In other words, the word communion is not present with regard to the Trinity or in relation to the mystery of the Church. 5 This second example also reveals the scarcity of trinitarian language in the Encyclical. There are other indications of the same type. The monotheistic character of the Hebrew-Christian God is so emphasised 5 The Encyclical applies to the Church, particularly in the second part, beginning with the title (Caritas, the Practice of Love by the Church as a Community of love ), the language of community of love, intending to refer to the Church as a society committed to loving. We read in 20: Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practise love.
17 DEUS CARITAS EST, PART 1 21 and the description of the image of God is so lacking in reference to the Trinity, that in where the God of the Bible is discussed there is no reference to the Holy Spirit. It should also be noted that the Holy Spirit is not mentioned anywhere in the first part. Where there is extensive reference to the activity of the Spirit is in 19, the first number of the second part. In the thematic and conceptual development of the first part in fact the term Holy Spirit is not to be found. In this way it is inevitable that the novelty of the Bible concerning the image of man in 11- is also completely void of references to the Trinity. What is more, the Johannine texts which in oriental theology 6 are understood as revealing communal, divine life, are recalled by Benedict XVI to show the economic revelation (in Christ) of God as love, which founds the demand of a response of love on the part of man. The Encyclical begins «God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him» (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny ( 1). A little later we read these words Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is no longer a mere «command»; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us. This beginning is recalled by the pope in 12 where we read By contemplating the pierced side of Christ (cf. 19:37), we can understand the starting-point of this Enyclical Letter: «God is love» (1 Jn 4:8). It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move. This marginalization of Trinitarian aspects very probably is a consequence of the choices made: the pope has preferred the way of oikonomia, the relations of God ad extra, rather than the way of theologia in the sense of the divine life ad intra. One could also say: he is more interested here in considering the 6 Cfr. B. PETRÁ, L amore non è solo una virtù. Il fondamento ontologico dell amore nell Ortodossia in Rivista di teologia morale 38 (2006), n.150,
18 22 BASILIO PETRÀ dynamic of the relationship God-humanity rather than in contemplating the ontological intimacy of the mystery. This is of course only an hypothesis. It could, however, help to understand better the way in which the Encyclical understands the Eucharist: this, we read in 13 in particular, is essentially the form of the enduring presence of the act of oblation of Christ, into which we are attracted and to which we are configured. This is not a static presence: The Eucharist draws us into Jesus act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving ( 13). United to Christ in the Eucharist, the Christian becomes at one and the same time the receiver and the transmitter of the love of God which is directed to all there God s own agape comes to us bodily, in order to continue his work in us and through us ( 14). Here the usual contraposition between worship and ethics simply falls apart. «Worship» itself, Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn ( 14). It is probably, therefore, the economic perspective which leads to focussing on a dynamic language and leaving in the background the ontological dimension, at the level of the Trinitarian image of God, at the level of the image of man and indeed with regard to the depths of the mystery of the Church and of the baptized. The only other alternative is that the pope explicitly wished to exclude every possible linguistic connection between Trinitarian doctrine and the creation of man/love/ matrimony/family, a connection which seems to have become a common place in much theology of the family today and is supported by very authoritative ecclesiastical authorities. 7 This seems to me to be the less probable hypothesis. Some themes of particular interest This final part of my presentation will be brief because it will be limited to recalling some points touched by the 7 Cfr. J.S. BOTERO, Per una teologia della famiglia, Borla, Roma 1992; M. OUELLET, Divina somiglianza. Antropologia trinitaria della famiglia, Lateran University Press, Roma, 2004.
19 DEUS CARITAS EST, PART 1 23 Encyclical which in my opinion are particularly interesting but which need and invite further investigation if they are to give all their fruit. The understanding of eros Given the Greek origin of the term, the Encyclical applies eros to the love between man and woman (with all its inebriation: 3) and considers this latter the very epitome of love ( 2). However, this vision of eros is probably inadequate with respect to the world of Greece, since eros in Greek presents various, complicated aspects. 8 It is certainly difficult in the context of contemporary culture to speak of eros without confronting the problem of desire, an anthropological category which does not as such appear in the Encyclical. The term desire actually appears in 1,9, 30, but not in way which is applicable to our theme. 9 The healing of eros The pope speaks of this particularly in 5. Eros can certainly realise itself in an ultimate sense an agapic sense but the path of this realisation is not simply by submitting to instinct. Purification and growth are called for [ ] Far from rejecting or poisoning eros, they heal it and restore its true grandeur. This category of healing arrives suddenly on the scene but it is not clear from where it comes. Benedict XVI seems to see the need for it as rooted in the fact that: man is made up of body 8 For some critical observations on the way in which the Greek concept of eros is employed in the Encyclical, see: G. BIONDI, Eros e Agape. Un confronto filosofico con l Enciclica «Deus caritas est» in Parola e Tempo, Annale dell Istituto di Scienze religiose di Rimini, 5 (2006) , particularly Biondi recalls the importance of the language of the storgê and also the profound tie that there is in Plato s Syposium between eros, wisdom and eternity. For a careful analysis of eros in Plato s Symposium see G. REALE, Eros dèmone mediatore e il gioco delle maschere nel Simposio di Platone, Milano 2000, which in the steps of Guido Calogero insists among other things on the difference between Greek eros and Christian agape, even when they lead to the same noble act of dying for others ( ). 9 Something similar is noted in G. ANGELINI, Deus caritas est. Una preziosa sollecitazione al pensiero teologico in Teologia 31 (2006) 2-10.
20 24 BASILIO PETRÀ and soul. Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united; the challenge of eros can be said to be truly overcome when this unification is achieved. Should he aspire to be pure spirit and to reject the flesh as pertaining to his animal nature alone, then spirit and body would both lose their dignity. On the other hand, should be deny the spirit and consider matter, the body, as the only reality, he would likewise lose his greatness. It is clear that there is no explicit reference here to sin. In fact, one would search in vain the whole Encyclical for the word sin. It is not clear if this absence is the result of a deliberate intention to avoid the use of this term at a linguistic level; in fact it is a word which provokes suspicion in the modern ear. What one can say is that in the absence of any reference to sin original and mortal the problem of the realisation of eros risks becoming a primarily anthropological problem: a matter of living in harmony and in unity with oneself as body and soul. It would become a matter of wisdom and the acquisition of wisdom rather than a problem of salvation, a moral rather than a religious issue. A clarification on the category of sin in this whole process would certainly be useful. The transformation of eros into agape This is how I would name the dynamic described in 7: Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and selfish, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other [ ] bestows itself and wants «to be there» for the other. The theme is obviously interesting; indeed it could be said to be central to this whole exposition of the pope s ideas. It is only this transformation which legitimates the affirmation that agape is the complete truth of eros. However, in contradistinction to what happens in other authors (I am thinking of some texts of H. Thielicke 10 and K. Wojtyla 11 ) no justification of this 10 H. THIELICKE, The Ethics of Sex, Translated by J.W. Doberstein, Cambridge 1964, C. WOJTYLA, Amore e responsabilità. Morale sessuale e vita interpersonale, II edizione-ii ristampa, Torino 1979,