“The Church never fears the truth of science, because we are convinced that all truth comes from God,” Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, governor of Vatican City, said last week in Geneva, where he visited CERN and the Large Hadron Collider (which broke down just after it was first fired up in September and is expected to restart this fall). “Science will help our faith to purify itself. And faith at the same time will be able to broaden the horizons of man, who cannot just enclose himself in the horizons of science.”
The Vatican’s own newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has reviewed the upcoming Angels & Demons movie, calling it a “a gigantic and smart commercial operation” littered with “stereotyped characters” and historical inaccuracies. Ultimately, though, the paper concludes the film is just “two hours of harmless entertainment, which hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity.”
The movie, which deals explicitly with the relationship between science and religion, opens in theaters a week from today.
A group of scientists, philosophers, and theologians have gathered at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University for a five-day, Vatican-sponsored conference during which they’ll discuss the compatibility of evolution and creation. Later in the week, the conference will also examine “intelligent design” as a cultural phenomenon (not as science). Stay tuned.
Back in March, we told you about the Vatican’s plans to erect a statue of Galileo in its gardens—both to mark the 400th anniversary of his telescope and to help fully rehabilitate his image. (After the Catholic Church charged the astronomer with heresy, he was forced to recant his scientific view of heliocentrism—the idea that the Earth revolved around the sun—during his 1633 trial.)
Now, it seems the plan for the statue is on hold, indefinitely. Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told The Times that the statue had “only been an idea,” which is now “suspended”—though Galileo “deserves all our appreciation and gratitude.”
Galileo, Ravasi said in a statement, can now be recognized “as a believer who, in the context of his time, sought to reconcile the results of his scientific researches with his Christian faith.” And “the church wishes to honor the figure of Galileo—innovative genius and son of the church,” with a number of initiatives this year.
But the statue is no longer one of them. According to Ravasi, the statue had been designed, and a mold had been made, but the Vatican asked the project’s sponsor to divert the funds to projects in Nigeria and other places “to foster a better understanding of the relationship between science and religion.” —Heather Wax