Cardinal Poupard Warns of Religion Sans Reason

At Presentation for Science-Theology Congress

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ROME, NOV. 3, 2005 ( Religion divorced from reason runs the risk of falling prey to fundamentalism, warns Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The cardinal was speaking in the Vatican press office today during a press conference on the first international congress of the STOQ Project — Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest. The Nov. 9-11 congress, to be held at the Lateran University, carries the theme «The Infinite in the Sciences, Philosophy and Theology.»

The STOQ Project, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and supported financially by the John Templeton Foundation and other benefactors, has been organized for the first two years in collaboration with the Lateran, as well as with the Gregorian University and the Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum.

In the future, the STOQ Project will involve other pontifical universities of Rome, as well as European universities in Spain, Poland and Belgium.

The STOQ Project is heir to the Study Commission on the Galileo Case, instituted by Pope John Paul II and headed by Cardinal Poupard.

The project’s objective, the French cardinal said, is to create «a new climate of dialogue within the Catholic Church between scientific culture, which penetrates our world and daily life so intensely, and what we can call the culture of faith, that is nourished by Revelation and Christian humanism.»

The cardinal continued: «We know what scientific reason leads to, which becomes an end in itself: The atomic bomb and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruits of a reason that has wished to free itself from every ethical and religious link.»

«But we are also conscious of the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and falls prey to fundamentalism?» he asked. «For this reason, believers have the obligation to listen to what modern science offers, and this is why we ask loyally that the wisdom of faith be taken into account as an expert voice in humanity.»

The infinite

Rodolfo Guzzi of the Italian Space Agency also spoke at the press conference.

He explained that the first congress of the STOQ Project «hopes to make an inventory of the concepts of the infinite that have emerged from physics, cosmology and mathematics, attempting to give answers to the questions that arise from the different scientific theories and from the measures that the modern radio telescopes offer us, in the most unitary manner possible.»

In addition to Cardinal Poupard, the congress will be attended by other theologians, such as Bishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran University, and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz of the Israel Institute for Talmudic Publications, who will speak on «Infinity in Science and Faith.»

Among the scientists who will address the congress are Joseph Silk, of Oxford University; Juan Maldacena, of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey; and Jesuit Father George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory.


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