Theologian Sought Heavenly Home, Notes Pope

Symposium Honors Contributions of Erik Peterson

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is highlighting theologian Erik Peterson as one who sought his home in Heaven.

The Pope made this reflection today upon receiving in audience participants in an international symposium on «Erik Peterson: The Theological Presence of an Outsider.»
The symposium is being promoted by the Patristic Institute Augustinianum together with the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology on the 50th anniversary of the death of the German theologian.
The opening session of the symposium, which will end on Tuesday, involved presentations by Cardinal Raffaele Farina, archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church, and Cardinal Karl Lehmann, bishop of Mainz, Germany.
In his address to symposium participants, the Pontiff quoted the phrase of the Letter to the Hebrews: «For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come (13:14),» pointing out that this could be the ideal motto to describe the life of Erik Peterson, L’Osservatore Romano reported.
The theologian, who was born in Hamburg, Germany, on June 7, 1890, and died in the same city on October 26, 1960.  
The Holy Father recalled his biography, observing that the difficult political situation that was being experienced in Germany after World War I was also reflected in the theological debate.
In that context, he said, Peterson decided to study especially the history of religions, convinced that it is not a history separated from God, and that in this history the Church has a special place and finds its meaning.

Benedict XVI highlighted the binding character of Sacred Scripture, the testimony of which remains alive in the Church and is the foundation for the permanently valid religious convictions of the Church itself.
These convictions, in turn, are continually manifested in the liturgy as space of the Church for the praise of God in an indissoluble relationship with the heavenly Jerusalem.
It is in this tension towards the future where the reference to the Letter to the Hebrews is inserted: «for here we have no lasting city.»
For the Pope, Erik Peterson never found in life the place where he would be able to obtain recognition and a stable home, and this situation made many of his thoughts and his writings fragmented.
For this reason, the Pontiff underlined the importance of the commitment of one who dedicates himself to the publication of his work and its translation into different languages, including Chinese.
In his greeting to the Holy Father, Cardinal Lehmann said that «although Erik Peterson in life was highly recognized for his work, which was relatively limited, in many disciplines, in particular in theology, it ran the risk in a certain way of falling into oblivion after his death.»
Since 1994, he noted, the theologian’s work has been reprinted in German in 12 volumes, his writing published in life, above all a rich compilation of «reflections on dogmas, on the history of the Church, on patristics and on the history of the liturgy.»
The cardinal expressed the hope «that this symposium will be a good opportunity to discover in a more exhaustive way, to receive in a creative way and ultimately to enlarge the rich patrimony and heritage of Erik Peterson, at least also in other languages.»
He concluded, «We are convinced that this will constitute a fruitful service for the Church of today and of tomorrow.»

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