Sunday, May 28, 2006

Heaven: a Place on Earth?

I'm hoping someone out these can direct me to any statements by the Holy Father concerning Heaven, particularly whether Heaven is a place. One of our priests today made a statement for which I want to verify the context. Essentially, he said that Pope Benedict created quite a stir recently when he said that "Heaven is not a place."

Now, my concern with this primarily is with its lack of context. Certainly, it's reasonable to assume that Heaven is not a place in a temporal-spatial sense, as God and the spirits are not limited or bound by space and time. However, that's not the same as saying that there is no "place" or abode separate from Earth that is Heaven. My concern is the creeping symbolism that such flatfooted claims inject into Catholic doctrine (for example, that Heaven is really only something here and now and doesn't involve an afterlife). When someone takes a complex theological concept and flattens it out to make it comprehensible, they must do so with care. A statement such as the one our priest made today disregards the proper care that a concept such as Heaven should be treated.

Secondarily, I'm wondering about the accuracy the rest of the claim. He indicated that the Holy Father caused a stir when he said this. However, I follow numerous Catholic blogs, many on the more traditional side, and I've heard nothing of this stir. The only comment I know of that has come even close to causing a stir is that speculation on a Limbo of the Infants was identified as just that: theological speculation. Frankly, that doesn't strike me as a particularly Earth-shattering acknowledgement.

Anyway, if anyone could point me to a source, I'd be grateful. I've been planning to invite this priest over soon and to get to know him. (He lives three doors away.) Undoubtedly, we'll discuss theology and doctrine, but I want to get to know him as well.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]
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