Entrusted with the keys of knowledge, may your research benefit all…
Pope Francis stressed this today, Nov. 12, 2018, to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, taking place in the Vatican from November 12-14, 2018, on the theme “Transformative Roles of Science in Society: From Emerging Basic Sciences Toward Solutions for People’s Wellbeing.”
The Pope began recognizing that in the past, the scientific world “tended to assert its independence and self-sufficiency and show a certain distrust vis-à-vis spiritual and religious values,” but now seems “instead to be increasingly aware of the ever more complex reality of the world and of the human being.”
“We see signs of a certain lack of security and some fear before the possible evolution of a science and technology that, if left to their own devices, could turn their back on the good of individuals and of peoples,” he said, noting: “Greater attention should be paid to the values and fundamental goods that are at the basis of the relationship between peoples, society and science.”
“This relationship demands a rethinking aimed at promoting the integral advancement of each human being and of the common good. Open dialogue and attentive discernment are indispensable, especially as science becomes more complex and the horizons that it opens up bring decisive challenges for the future of humanity.”
The Pope reminded those before him: “the scientific community is a part of society, and must not be considered separate and independent; indeed, it is called to serve the human family and its integral development.”
Fruits of Science
Thanking the scientists and scholars, the Pontiff told them that the possible fruits of this mission of service are “countless,” but stressed that combating climate change and the “nuclear menace” are key: “Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, I reaffirm the fundamental importance of commitment to a world without nuclear arms.”
“I ask – as did Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II – that scientists actively cooperate to convince government leaders of the ethical unacceptability of such weaponry, because of the irreparable harm that it causes to humanity and to the planet,” Francis appealed.
“Consequently, I too reaffirm the need for a disarmament which today seems a subject less and less raised at the tables around which great decisions are made. May I be able to thank God, as did Saint John Paul II in his Testament, that in my Pontificate the world was spared the immense tragedy of an atomic war.”
The Pope stressed that global changes are increasingly influenced by human actions, and noted that hence there is also a need for adequate responses aimed at protecting the health of the planet and its inhabitants. The Pontiff also thanked them for concentrating on new knowledge necessary to confront the scourges of contemporary society.
“The universal rights we proclaim must become reality for all, and science can contribute decisively to this process and to breaking down the barriers that stand in its way,” the Pope said, thanking the Academy of Sciences for “its valued cooperation in combating the crime against humanity that is human trafficking for the sake of forced labor, prostitution and organ trafficking.
“I stand at your side in this battle for humanity,” he said.
The Pope admitted there is a long way to go towards a development that is both integral and sustainable, underscoring that elimination of hunger and thirst, high levels of mortality and poverty, especially among the 800 million needy and excluded of our earth, will not be achieved without a change in our way of living.
The Church does not expect science merely to follow principles of ethics, which are a priceless patrimony of the human race. It expects a positive service that we can call with Saint Paul VI the “charity of knowledge.”
Entrusted with Keys of Knowledge
“You, dear scientists and friends of science,” Pope Francis reminded, “have been entrusted with the keys of knowledge. I would like to stand before you as the advocate of the people that receive only rarely and from afar the benefits of vast human knowledge and its achievements, especially in the areas of nutrition, health, education, connectivity, well-being and peace.”
“Allow me to say to you in their name,” he continued, “may your research benefit all, so that the peoples of the earth will be fed, given to drink, healed and educated; may political life and the economy receive from you indications for how people can advance with greater certainty towards the common good, for the benefit especially of the poor and those in need, and towards respect for our planet.”
This, the Pope said, is the immense panorama that opens up before men and women of science when they take stock of the expectations of peoples, “expectations animated by trusting hope, but also by anxiety and unrest.”
Pope Francis concluded, blessing them, their work and initiatives, thanking them for their work and reminding them to pray for him.
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