Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer´s Death Saddens John Paul II

Father of Modern Hermeneutics Attended Meetings at Castel Gandolfo

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2002 ( John Paul II sent a telegram of sympathy in memory of Hans-Georg Gadamer, one of Europe´s greatest philosophers and a personal friend of the Pope.

Gadamer, father of modern hermeneutics, died Thursday in Heidelberg, Germany. He was 102.

The Pope, a one-time professor of philosophy and specialist in phenomenology, invited Gadamer to the philosophical meetings organized in the summer in Castel Gandolfo.

Born in Magdeburg in 1900, Gadamer´s great teacher was Martin Heidegger, although he did not share the latter´s sympathy for Nazism.

Gadamer is regarded as the founder of modern hermeneutics, which he once described as «a method of interpretation but also of elucidation of existence.» His most important work, «Truth and Method,» was published in 1960.

In a message of sympathy addressed to Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the German episcopal conference, John Paul II recalls the meetings he had with Gadamer in which he was able to «appreciate sincerity in the search for truth.» The Vatican released the text of the telegram on Saturday.

The Holy Father points out in the telegram Gadamer´s «acuity of thought, cordial respect for the interlocutor, and consideration for the values of the Christian patrimony.»

«In fact, Gadamer was a committed defender of the importance of tradition for a correct way of knowing,» the Pope stated. «Reference to tradition was for him the acknowledgment of a cultural patrimony belonging to all humanity.»

The roots of tradition enable us to «express today original, new thought and … projection for the future,» John Paul II concluded.

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