Religion: Existentialist Saint

In the paneled quiet of the Papal Cancelleria last fortnight, eager-eyed young priests leaned forward on elbows shiny from desk-reading; ascetic monks stretched thin necks from their lowered cowls. All sat raptly silent along the wainscoted wall, while speaker followed speaker at the highly-polished wooden reading stand. The occasion: a course of studies on existentialism under the auspices of the Vatican's Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas.*

"Existentialism" is more than the name of a jittery Paris fad; it is a description of any philosophy that takes as its starting point the elementary fact of human existence. The word, and the Catholic...

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