Time For a Theology Brush Up
Apparently even devout Catholics need to brush up on their theology before the pope comes.
Knowing that, the Archdiocese of Washington organized two weighty lectures, or teachings. "His arrival among us is indeed a moment of grace, for which we must prepare," Archbishop Timothy Broglio, longtime Vatican diplomat and current archbishop to the military, said before the first lecture, which he delivered on Feb. 28.
At least 600 people, many still in their work clothes and clutching their briefcases -- rapt -- through the entire hour, filled the pews at St. Matthew's in Northwest. The dramatic, huge cathedral was nearly silent as Broglio tried to spell out the key themes in the two encyclicals, or major letters, Benedict has written thus far in his three years as pope. One was on love, one on hope.
Sounds like pretty straight-forward themes, but encyclicals are made of dense, philosophical stuff. Take the one on love: It is asking what is the nature of the love between man and God, and how is it related to other forms of love, say between people or between a person and their career or calling? Can a person love God? Is this a language conundrum, or more of a conceptual one? And when it comes to love of neighbor, what type of love motivates a Christian to do good, to do charity? Can it be a secular love - a basic urge to do good - or must it always be a Christ-motivated love?
You could hear a pin drop as Broglio went into the second encyclical, on hope, which he said is "definitely more difficult to understand and savor." The key question: Can contemporary people really hope? And is hope in the future the same thing as hoping for eternal life? What, he said, IS life? And is Christian hope selfish, since it asks people to look to their own salvation?
The lecture took a lighter turn at the end, when someone asked Broglio during the Q and A for some inside scoop about the pope.
He's extremely well-organized, the archbishop said, keeping to his schedule to the point that "you can set your watch" on his daily 4 p.m. walk in the gardens of the Vatican palace. He's either at home or at work; "very seldom do you see him outside, at receptions and other events around Rome." OK, so the pope isn't a party-hopper, not a total shock. "He is shy, but he is charming."
By Michelle Boorstein |
March 13, 2008; 9:19 PM ET
Next: The Pope's Cologne
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