Critics of the Catholic Church constantly allege that the only sin, original sin, that they concern themselves with is of a sexual nature. Everything else is superficial. Despite repeated denials that this is the agenda, it is amazing to find, according to the Irish Times, that the first encyclical to be published by Pope Benedict XVI will be on the subject of love, dealing with the difference between erotic love and that of the spiritual.It will be titled Deus Caritas est (God is Love) and will focus on the love between a man and a woman. That is the relationship between Eros and Agape which is the unconditional, spiritual, and selfless love taught by Jesus.
The depressing feeling arising from that is that at least as far as the church is concerned human civilisation is still in its juvenile era. Because that is what juveniles do, they think of sex, and because it is new and exciting they are prepared to experience it in whatever form it is presented to them.
The mature generations will have moved on. They will know that love does have deeper dimensions, none of which are remotely concerned with erotica. Indeed the term erotic love is a contradiction.
Whatever else it is, it is not love, but a manifestation of desires controlled in physical terms by natural releases of hormones combined with natures template for re- population.
The real challenge for humanity is the manifestation of love that is rooted in the need to embrace our fellow man. As the Christian doctrine commands, loving God can only be real if we love our fellow man.
So an encyclical focusing on love in erotic terms is completely and utterly a waste of time. The fact that, this is the first encyclical of this pontificate and therefore his mission statement, suggests that we will have gone back to the Garden of Eden, drawing attention to our mythical fig leaves, and our total fascination with matters sexual.
We will engage our selves in a bout of literally naval gazing, and be consumed by titillation it produces. Despite the noble intention of Pope Benedict, it will be reduced by the tabloid media to basic instinct, with little or nothing learned by humanity.
Instead we should be looking at our total inability to love each other.
At present we have more or less forgotten the plight of millions suffering because of the Pakistan earth quake, the millions affected by the Asian Tsunami, the population of New Orleans, and of course the situation of many on the African Continent.
We accept and even encourage regimes that commit crimes of torture and execution. Through unjust trading practices we ensure that our fellow man lives in a perpetual state of grinding poverty thereby reducing our collective spiritual dimension to nothing more than sham. The religions we believe in are simply weapons used to degrade those who do not agree with us
The best we can do is acknowledge in sycophantic terms the conscience easing antics, of two aging rock stars, as they tilt at the windmills of the great eight in a bid to ease the debt that is crippling these countries.
Having arrived in the 21st century it would be nice to think that the human intellect would have advanced to the point where it can advance the notion of a love that can be absolute, and unconditional, yet totally immersed in an unbreakable trust.
Pope Benedict is a highly respected for his superior intellect and wisdoml. He is also of an era that has seen the most despicable examples of mans inhumanity to man.
An encyclical that would reflect that, rather the meaningless one suggested, would at least be a start to moving our civilisation to a higher and nobler place.