VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is congratulating a Polish priest and cosmologist who won the Templeton Prize for his contribution to the dialogue between religion and science.
In a message sent through Archbishop Fernando Filoni, “sostituto” for general affairs at the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Pope congratulated Monsignor Michael Heller, a professor of theoretical physics, cosmology and philosophy of science at the Pontifical Academy of Theology.
The message said, “The Holy Father was pleased to learn that you have been awarded the Templeton Prize in recognition of your outstanding contribution to the dialogue between science and religion, and he sends you his warmest congratulations and good wishes.”
Citing the encyclical “Fides et Ratio,” the note continued, “As you know, His Holiness has repeatedly underlined the importance of a fruitful encounter between faith and reason, the two wings on which the human spirit rises to contemplation of the truth, and he wishes to encourage all those who devote their lives to exploring the profound insights to be gained from scientific research in the context of religious belief.”
Referring to Psalm 18, the papal message added: “He prays that your work in the fields of cosmology and philosophy will help to make known the message that “the heavens proclaim the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.
“As this prestigious award is conferred upon you in London on May 7, 2008, the Holy Father will remember you particularly in his prayers. Invoking upon you and all those whose work serves to promote a deeper understanding of the relationship between religion and science, His Holiness cordially imparts his apostolic blessing.”
The writings of Monsignor Heller, 72, “have evoked new and important consideration of some of humankind’s most profound concepts,” the Templeton Foundation said. “Heller’s examination of fundamental questions such as ‘does the universe need to have a cause?’ engages a wide range of sources who might otherwise find little in common.
“By drawing together mathematicians, philosophers, cosmologists and theologians who pursue these topics, he also allows each to share insights that may edify the other without any violence to their respective methodologies.”
The Templeton Prize honors a living person considered to have made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works.