Tag Archives: faith and reason

Vatican Observatory Moves

Vatican Observatory.jpg

The Jesuit report that after residing
more than seventy years within the papal summer Palace itself, the headquarters of the Vatican Observatory recently moved to a new
location in the Papal Gardens at Castelgandolfo. The move was occasioned by
increased demands for space within the Palace, and the growing needs of the
Observatory. Until few weeks ago, the observatory offices were located on the
top floor of Papal Palace, the Pope’s summer home located in the Alban Hills,
25 kilometers southeast of Rome. Its extensive astronomical library is
scattered over four rooms on the top two floors of the Palace, while the
valuable meteorite collection and laboratory, the historic vault of
photographic observations made at the Observatory from 1895 to 1979, and the
classroom where the biennial Vatican Observatory Summer Schools are conducted,
are located on the ground floor of the Palace. Meanwhile, the living
quarters of the Jesuits is divided between rooms on the second and top floors.
With the prospect of half a dozen younger Jesuits joining the staff over the
next five years, the issue of both residence and office space was becoming

“Moving the Observatory collections and libraries has been
a logistical challenge,” noted Father José Funes, the Argentinean
Jesuit and director of the observatory. “But the new site will allow us to
address a growing need for space and order.” The new quarters,
located in the remodelled monastery built by the Basilian monks within one of
the most beautiful gardens in the Italian peninsula, should provide a far more
peaceful and comfortable setting. The Vatican Observatory traces its
history to the reform of the calendar by Pope Gregory XIII in 1583. It was
re-organized by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, “so that everyone might see clearly
that the Church and her Pastors are not opposed to true and solid science,
whether human or divine, but that they embrace it, encourage it, and promote it
with the fullest possible devotion.”

The faith needs to be intelligible, Pope says

Using the method of Saint Cyril and Methodius Pope Benedict
spoke about the work of the Church in making the faith intelligible to people
using their own language. The task of inculturation is an extremely difficult
work because of the nuances of language and culture. Just look at the headaches
in translating catechisms, papal speeches and liturgical texts today. The
coalescing of faith and culture is a work the Church has done since the time of
Christ. Watch the video clip on the subject.

The Pope said, in

This was a decisive factor for the development of the Slavic
civilization in general. Cyril and Methodius were convinced that the various
peoples could not consider that they had fully received Revelation until they
had heard it in their own language and read it with the characters proper to
their own alphabet.

To Methodius falls the merit of ensuring that the work
began by his brother would not remain sharply interrupted. While Cyril, the
“philosopher,” tended toward contemplation, he [Methodius] was directed
more toward the active life. In this way, he was able to establish the
foundations of the successive affirmation of what we could call the
“Cyril-Methodian idea,” which accompanied the Slavic peoples in the
various historical periods, favoring cultural, national and religious
development. Pope Pius XI already recognized this with the apostolic letter Quod Sanctum Cyrillum, in which he classified the two brothers as
“sons of the East, Byzantines by their homeland, Greeks by origin, Romans
by their mission, Slavs by their apostolic fruits” (AAS 19 [1927] 93-96).

The historic role that they fulfilled was afterward officially proclaimed by
Pope John Paul II who, with the apostolic letter Egregiae Virtutis
, declared them co-patrons of Europe, together with St. Benedict (AAS
73 [1981] 258-262). Indeed, Cyril and Methodius are a classic example of what
is today referred to with the term “inculturation”: Each people
should make the revealed message penetrate into their own culture, and express
the salvific truth with their own language. This implies a very exacting work
of “translation,” as it requires finding adequate terms to propose
anew the richness of the revealed Word, without betraying it. The two brother
saints have left in this sense a particularly significant testimony that the
Church continues looking at today to be inspired and guided. (Wednesday Audience, June 17, 2009)

Newt Gingrich on his conversion: an interview

Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report’s “God & Country” blog posted an exclusive interview in which Newt Gingrich speaks on following his desire to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. 

The former Speaker of the House said in part: “The whole effort to create a ruthless, amoral,
situational ethics culture has probably driven me toward a more overt

To read the interview

Cashing-in the work of the Church

Are we committed to beauty and truth in art? Thinking about
Dan Brown’s books which contains Catholic “material” I have been a bit
distressed at some peoples’ an uncritical acceptance of what I think is mostly
scandalous regarding the Catholic faith. To me it is not OK because Brown is,
as it’s said belowi, cashing in on the work of the Church. But my gripe is that
fiction is always received as such by some people aren’t able to clearly
discern the meaning of things. That is, there are people who can’t separate
fact from fiction in printed materials; for them anything in print is true.
Right, it’s ludicrous but people do think that what Dan Brown writes is true
and beyond reproach. Father John Wauck, an Opus Dei priest, is a professor at
the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, and the author of the blog
“The Da Vinci Code and Opus Dei” said the following recently in an
interview the rest of the interview was published on Zenit.org.

Dan Brown’s
trying to sell books by offering a “cocktail” of history, art,
religion and mystery, and, in today’s world, there seems to be only one place
where he’s able to find all those things together: in the Roman Catholic
Church. In fact, he’s cashing in on the culture of the Church.

Universities are
an invention of the Church. Copernicus was a Roman Catholic cleric, and he
dedicated his book on the heliocentric universe to the Pope. The calendar we
use today is the Gregorian Calendar, because it was promulgated by Pope Gregory
XIII, who was working with the best astronomers and mathematicians of his time.
Galileo himself always remained a Catholic, and his two daughters were nuns.
One of the greatest Italian astronomers of the 19th century was a Jesuit
priest, Angelo Secchi. The father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel, was a
Catholic monk. The creator of the “Big Bang” theory was a Belgian
priest, Georges Lemaitre.

In short, the idea that there is a some natural tension between science and the Church, between reason and faith, is utter nonsense. Nowadays, when people hear the words “science” and “the Church,” they immediately think of Galileo’s trial in the 1600s. But, in the larger scheme of things, that complex case –which is frequently distorted by anti-Catholic propagandists–was a glaring exception. There’s a reason why critics of the Church are always brings it up: It’s the only example they’ve got. So, when we hear the words “science” and “the Church,” we should think Copernicus, Secchi, Mendel and Lemaitre. They’re representative. Galileo’s trial is not.

Matteo Ricci: 4th centenary of death

Matteo RicciWe’re observing the anniversary of death of the famed Jesuit, Matteo Ricci. Benedict XVI wrote to Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia, Italy on the occasion of a Jubilee Year commemorating the fourth centenary of the death of the Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci, who died in Beijing, China on 11 May 1610. In part the Pope said:

In considering his intense academic and spiritual activity, we cannot but remain favourably impressed by the innovative and unusual skill with which he, with full respect, approached Chinese cultural and spiritual traditions. It was, in fact, this approach that characterised his mission, which aimed to seek possible harmony between the noble and millennial Chinese civilisation and the novelty of Christianity, which is for all societies a ferment of liberation and of true renewal from within, because the Gospel, universal message of salvation, is destined for all men and women whatever the cultural and religious context to which they belong.

A biography of Father Ricci can be read here.

More about Father Ricci can be found here and here.

For those with a deeper curiosity I could recommend Jonathan D. Spence’s The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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