Science-Religion Synthesis Possible, Says Pope

Addresses University of the Sacred Heart

ROME, NOV. 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- It’s possible to have a science that is open to the transcendent, and which can answer the great questions of life, says Benedict XVI.

When visiting the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart today in Rome, Benedict XVI addressed the students and professors of this institution, and all universities that consider themselves Catholic.
<br> “What responsibility!” said the Pope, referring to the “thousands upon thousands of young people” who pass through Catholic universities.

“How do they come out?” he asked. “What type of education have they found, assimilated and elaborated?”

The Holy Father said that every Catholic university must be “a great laboratory in which, according to the different disciplines, new ways of research are always elaborated in a stimulating dialogue between faith and reason, which seeks to recover the harmonious synthesis reached by Thomas Aquinas and the other great Christian thinkers.”

This synthesis, he said, “is unfortunately contested by important currents of modern philosophy.”

The Pope continued: “The consequence of this dispute has been the gradual affirmation in an ever more exclusive manner of the criteria of rationality through experiment.

“The fundamental questions of man — how to live and how to die — seem to be excluded from the realm of rationality and are confined to the sphere of subjectivity. As a consequence, in the end the question disappears which gave origin to the university — the question of truth and good — to be substituted by the question of feasibility.”

Open to God

“This is,” he said, “therefore, the great challenge of Catholic universities: scientific research, according to the horizon of a genuine rationality, different from the one that broadly prevails today.”

Such research, the Pope said, should be “according to a reason that is open to the question of truth and of the great values inscribed in the being itself, open, therefore, to the transcendent, to God.”

The Pontiff added that the Christian knows that this challenge is possible, as “the divine Logos, eternal reason, is at the origin of the universe and, in Christ, united itself once and for all to humanity, to the world and to history.”

“In the light of this capital truth of faith, and at the same time of reason, it is possible, in the year 2000, to join together faith and science,” he said.

This is the basis of the daily work of a Catholic university, said Benedict XVI, who is a former theology professor.

“Isn’t it a wonderful venture?” he asked. “Yes, it is, as by moving within this horizon of meaning, the intrinsic unity is discovered that unites the different branches of learning: theology, philosophy, medicine, economics, every discipline, even the most specialized technologies, as everything is related. To choose a Catholic university means to choose this approach.”

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