Economics Shouldn't Dictate Scientific Criteria, Says Pope

Insists That Research Must Serve the Common Good

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 8, 2004 ( John Paul II called for scientific research to be free from economic and ideological conditionings.

“Men and women of science are challenged to put this creativity more and more at the service of the human family, by working to improve the quality of life on our planet and by promoting an integral development of the human person, both materially and spiritually,” the Pope said today.

The Holy Father was appealing to the participants of the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which includes several Nobel Prize laureates, who began their meeting Friday on the theme “The Paths of Discovery.”

“If scientific creativity is to benefit authentic human progress, it must remain detached from every form of financial or ideological conditioning, so that it can be devoted solely to the dispassionate search for truth and the disinterested service of humanity,” John Paul II said.

“Creativity and new discoveries ought to bring both the scientific community and the world’s peoples together, in a climate of cooperation which values the generous sharing of knowledge over competitiveness and individual interests,” he added.

The Pope reminded his audience that scientific research might also be a path to discover God.

“Contemporary scientists, faced with the explosion of new knowledge and discoveries, frequently feel that they are standing before a vast and infinite horizon,” he continued. “Indeed, the inexhaustible bounty of nature, with its promise of ever new discoveries, can be seen as pointing beyond itself to the Creator who has given it to us as a gift whose secrets remain to be explored.”

“In attempting to understand this gift and to use it wisely and well, science constantly encounters a reality which human beings ‘find.’ In every phase of scientific discovery, nature stands as something ‘given,'” the Holy Father said. “For this reason, creativity and progress along the paths of discovery, as in all other human endeavors, are ultimately to be understood against the backdrop of the mystery of creation itself.

“Despite the uncertainties and the labor which every attempt to interpret reality entails — not only in the sciences but also in philosophy and theology — the paths of discovery are always paths towards truth. And every seeker after truth, whether aware of it or not, is following a path which ultimately leads to God, who is Truth itself.”

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences was founded in Rome in 1603 with the name Academy of the Lynxes and led by Galileo Galilei. It is made up of 80 pontifical academicians named for life by the Pope after having been proposed by the academicians themselves.

The academy is governed by a president, appointed from its members by the Pope. The current president is Nicola Cabibbo, professor of physics at Rome’s La Sapienza University, and former president of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics.

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