John Paul II and Intellectual Comrades Ponder Science and Religion

Seminar Focuses on Time and Infinity

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 18, 2003 ( John Paul II and some 20 Polish intellectuals participated in a recent seminar that focused on a topic of longtime interest to Karol Wojtyla: the dialogue between science and religion.

The occasion was the 12th seminar on “Science, Religion and History.” It was held Aug. 5-8 and focused on the topic “Time and Infinity.”

The Holy Father usually invites Polish philosophers, scientists, men of letters, and theologians to the event at the summer papal residence here.

At the end of the meeting, the Pope addressed is intellectual “friends” — some of whom he has known since he was a university professor in Poland — and explained the reasons that led him to give special importance to this type of initiative.

In order “that contemporary witnesses of truth will not feel alone, it is necessary to promote a great solidarity of spirit among all those who are at the service of thought,” he said. “The Church cannot remain indifferent in face of the conquests of science which arose and developed in the ambit of the cultural influence of Christianity.”

“It must also be remembered that truth and freedom are inseparably united in the great task of the building of culture at the service of the full development of the human person,” the Pope added.

He proposed the motto coined by Christ — “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32) — to “build an evangelical culture free of illusions and utopias, which caused so much suffering in the 20th century.”

On the final day of the seminar, John Paul II celebrated Mass for the repose of the souls of deceased participants of previous seminars.

Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin, Poland, confirmed that the Holy Father was not only present during the three days of the seminar’s conferences, but also took part in the discussions, giving his view on cooperation between science and faith.

The archbishop told Vatican Radio that the meeting served to foster the Church’s reflection on “the theories of evolution in cosmology and biology, eliminating the possibility of interpretations” of a fundamentalist nature.

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