Tag Archives: faith and reason

Galileo: 400 years since the first use of the telescope

IYA 2009.jpgNow that we are more than half finished with the Year of Saint Paul, a year dedicated to celebrating the 2000th anniversary of the Apostle to the Gentile’s birth by getting to know Saint Paul through intellectual, spiritual and cultural events, let us now turn our gaze onto a rather significant figure of our western intellectual history, Galileo. 2009 has been named the International Year of Astronomy to observe the fact that Galileo made some significant studies of our galaxy. The International Year of Astronomy (IYA) proposes to observe the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first astronomical use of the telescope.

The goals of the IYA 2009 are to:

Increase scientific awareness;

Promote widespread access to new knowledge and observing experiences;

Support and improve formal and informal science education;

Provide a modern image of science and scientists;

Facilitate new networks and strengthen existing ones;

Facilitate the preservation and protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage of dark skies in places such as urban oases, national parks and astronomical sites.

Galileo Presenting Scopel.jpgSome interesting things

The Vatican Observatory

Astronomy 2009

Galileo 2009 sponsored by Euresis, an Association for the Promotion of Scientific Endeavor

100 Hours of Astonomy 2-5 April 2009

The January 6th, 2009 homily of Pope Benedict mentioning the IYA 2009 

Reflections by Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., on the Pope’s salute to those participating in the IYA 2009

A. C. Crombie, Augustine to Galileo: The History of Science A.D. 400-1650 (an online book)

Blessed John Duns Scotus: A model for maintaining faith & reason

Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Cologne and those participating in the International Scientific Congress on the occasion of the seventh centenary of Blessed John Duns Scotus’ death. What relevance does a letter was written in October 2008 by the pope have for us today? Why remember Blessed John at all? Faith and reason working together in the heart of the Church!!! They are not in opposition to each other. Catholics are known to work intimately with faith and reason and Scotus is a prime example of the tradition. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

Read the pope:

Johannes Duns Scotus.jpg

Rejoice, City of Cologne, which once welcomed within your walls John Duns Scotus, a most learned and devout man, who passed from this life to the heavenly Homeland on 8 November 1308; and, whose remains you preserve with great admiration and veneration.

Our Venerable Predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II, exalted him with lofty praise; we too would like to surround him with the praise he deserves and invoke his protection.

Thus the seventh centenary of his pious passing is now being celebrated, as is only right. And while articles and entire works in honour of Bl. John Duns Scotus are being published in various parts of the world and congresses are being held, including the solemn Congress currently being prepared that will take place in Cologne from 5 to 9 November 2008, we consider it a duty of our service in this circumstance to say a few words about this most illustrious man who so distinguished himself by contributing to the progress of the doctrine of the Church and of human science.

Indeed, combining piety with scientific research, in accordance with his invocation: “May the First Principle of things grant me to believe, to understand and to reveal what may please his majesty and may raise our minds to contemplate him”, with his refined brilliance he penetrated so deeply the secrets of natural and revealed truth, and found in them a doctrine which led him to be called Doctor Ordinis, Doctor Subtilis, and Doctor Marianus, becoming a teacher and guide of the Franciscan School, a light and example to the entire Christian People.

Thus we desire to remind scholars and everyone, believers and non-believers alike, of the path and method that Scotus followed in order to establish harmony between faith and reason, defining in this manner the nature of theology in order constantly to exalt action, influence, practice and love rather than pure speculation; in fulfilling this task he let himself be guided by the Magisterium of the Church and by a sound critical sense regarding growth in knowledge of the truth and was convinced that knowledge is valuable to the extent that it is applied in praxis.

Firmly anchored to the Catholic faith, Duns Scotus strove to understand, explain and defend the truth of the faith in the light of human reason. Thus he strove to do nothing other than show the consonance of all truths, natural and supernatural, that come from one and the same Source.

Alongside Sacred Scripture, divinely inspired, is the authority of the Church. Duns Scotus seems to follow St Augustine’s words: “I would not believe the Gospel, except that I [first] believe the Catholic Church”. In fact, our Doctor often gives a special emphasis to the supreme authority of the Successor of Peter. As the Blessed said: “Although the Pope cannot dispense with natural and divine law (given that his power is inferior to both), being the Successor of Peter, Prince of the Apostles, he still has the same authority as had Peter”.

Therefore, the Catholic Church whose invisible Head is Christ himself, who left as his Vicars the person of Blessed Peter and his Successors guided by the Spirit of truth, is the authentic custodian of the revealed deposit and the rule of faith. The Church is the firm and permanent criterion of the canonical dimension of Sacred Scripture. Indeed, she “established which books of the biblical canon were to be held authentic”.

Elsewhere he states that “the Scriptures were revealed in the same Spirit in which they were written, and in this way one must consider that the Catholic Church has presented them in that same Spirit with which the faith has been passed down, guided that is, by the Spirit of truth”.

After having proven with various arguments taken from theological reason, the very fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin, he was absolutely ready also to reject this conviction should it not be in harmony with the authority of the Church, saying: “We can with probability attribute to Mary all that has the greatest perfection, provided it is not opposed to the authority of the Church or the Scriptures”.

The primacy of the will sheds light on the fact that God is charity before all else. This charity, this love, Duns Scotus kept present when he sought to lead theology back to a single expression, that is to practical theology. According to his thought, since God “is formally love and formally charity”, with the greatest generosity he radiates his goodness and love beyond himself. And in reality, it is for love that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He predestined us in love to be his adoptive sons through Jesus Christ” (cf. Eph 1: 4-5).

A faithful disciple of St Francis of Assisi, Bl. John contemplated and preached assiduously the Incarnation and the saving Passion of the Son of God. However, the charity or love of Christ is expressed in a special way not only on Calvary, but also in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, without which “if not for being able to render supreme adoration unto God through the veneration of the same Sacrament every mercy would disappear in the Church”. This Sacrament moreover is a sacrament of unity and love; through it we are led to love one another mutually and to love God as a common good and to be loved at the same time by others.

And as this love, this charity, was the origin of all things, so too our eternal happiness will be in love and charity alone: “Eternal life is simply the desire as well as the will to love, blessed and perfect”.

Since at the beginning of our ministry we first of all preached love, which is God himself, we see with joy that the unique doctrine of this Blessed keeps a special place for this truth, which we consider principally worthy to be researched and taught in our time. Therefore, willingly complying with the request of our Venerable Brother Cardinal Joachim Meisner, of Holy Roman Church, Archbishop of Cologne, we are sending this Apostolic Letter with which we desire to honour Bl. John Duns Scotus and invoke his heavenly intercession upon us. Lastly, to those who are taking part in any capacity in this International Congress and in other initiatives concerning this outstanding son of St Francis, we cordially impart our Apostolic Blessing.

Given in Rome, at St Peter’s on 28 October 2008, the fourth year of our Pontificate.


The epitaph at Blessed John’s grave is rather fun:

Scotland bore me,                      Scotia me genuit,

England received me,                 Anglia me suscepit,

France taught me,                      Gallia me docuit,

Cologne holds me.                     Colonia me tenet.


Can we think of advancing his cause for sainthood? Its taken too many years to get to “Blessed”!!!!

footnotes in the original, see vatican.va

Lorenzo Albacete to present “God at the Ritz: Attraction to Infinity”

GR.jpgGod at the Ritz: Attraction to Infinity: A Priest-Physicist Talks about Science, Sex, Politics and Religion
by Lorenzo Albacete


Trained as a physicist and a Roman Catholic priest, Albacete has written a fine book of short reflections on religion, its place in our world, its at-times troubled relationship to its own truth claims, the meaning of suffering, and the experience of pluralism and liberalism. Albacete cites the thought of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, to be sure, but he also engages with Germaine Greer, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Paul Ricoeur. Albacete’s profound sense of the religious leads him not to dogma but to a series of sensitively framed, sincere questions that should catch the attention and empathy of many readers.

Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, National Director, Communion and Liberation; Chairman, Board of Advisors, Crossroads Cultural Center; former President, Catholic University of Puerto Rico; former Professor of Theology, St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York.

Wednesday, November 12th, 6:00-7:30pm

Columbia University

Davis Auditorium, Schapiro Center (116th & Broadway)


RSVP here.


Read Christopher West’s review of God at the Ritz

Biological Evolution 2009 Conference

Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories: A Critical Appraisal 150 Years After

“The Origin of Species”


In September I announced this conference devoted to a critical review of Charles Darwin’s
Darwin.jpgwork. You can get more information by visiting the conference website or by email:


The Rome conference looks very promising with top professors collaborating in evaluating this famous work.


The conference is sponsored by the Pontifical Gregorian University in colloaboration with University of Notre Dame, and with the high patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture with a grant of monies from the Templeton Foundation and the Associazione Scienza e Fede.

Biological Evolution: Faith & Science Evaluate

An international conference “Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A Critical
human evolution.jpgAppraisal 150 years after ‘The Origin of Species,'” will be held in Rome 3-7 March 2009.


This conference is jointly organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome) and the University of Notre Dame (Indiana) coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Culture as a project of STOQ (Science, Theology and the ontological Quest).


About STOQ


Seeking to foster a dialogue between science and religion, between science and
STOQ logo.jpgfaith, three universities in Rome (Italy), under the coordination of the Pontifical Council for Culture, have launched an initiative entitled “Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest” (STOQ), a project that unites professionals from the fields of theology, philosophy and scientific investigation, in the common search for the truth.


STOQ, following the teaching of the Church as found in documents like Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), published by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

“The Church needs science and science needs religion. Science purifies religion of error and superstition; religion purifies science of idolatry and false absolutes,” Cardinal Paul Poupard, President-emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

STOQ seeks to promote this dialogue by means of formative courses, in-depth investigations, publications, congresses and a student exchange program. Targeting professors and students alike, the project has three centers of investigation in each of the universities collaborating in the initiative:

The Pontifical Gregorian University will concentrate on the foundations of philosophy of science.

The Pontifical Lateran University will focus on the relation between the scientific and humanistic disciplines, especially Logic and Epistemology.

The Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum will focus on the relations among the fields of philosophy, theology and the science of life, especially through its faculty of Bioethics.

The STOQ project seeks to create a new mentality within the Catholic Church that is open to the challenges that science presents to society and our faith of today, while promoting a new outlook in the realms of science, seeking the truth and at the same time open to the mystery of transcendence of the human person.

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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