Being Benedict

The pope's first year

Late in his life, Karl Barth invited a young Catholic theologian to join his theology seminar. Frederick Lawrence, one of the students in the seminar, remembers the visitor as a “handsome young priest with graying hair, of medium build and slender stature,” who spoke with such skill that Barth pronounced his performance “outstanding.” Barth had one reservation: his guest too often used the construction “on the one hand . . . and on the other hand” when a simple decisive pronouncement would have been in order.


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