Pope Francis: address to Pontifical Academy of Sciences

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the Participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday.

The Academy’s November 25-29 meeting is focused on ways in which already available or expected scientific advances may affect the sustainable development of human societies and their environments.

Please find the full text of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks in their official English translation, below

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Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of your plenary session and I thank the President, Professor Werner Arber, for his kind words.   I wish to thank you for the contribution you are making which, with the passing of time, increasingly reveals its usefulness for scientific progress, for the cause of cooperation between human persons and especially for the care of the planet on which God has allowed us to live.  

Never before has there been such a clear need for science to be at the service of a new global ecological equilibrium.  At the same time we are seeing a renewed partnership between the scientific and Christian communities, who are witnessing the convergence of their distinct approaches to reality in the shared goal of protecting our common home, threatened as it is by ecological collapse and consequent increase of poverty and social exclusion.  I am pleased that you perceive so deeply the solidarity which joins you to the humanity of both today and tomorrow, in a sign of great care for mother earth.  Your commitment is all the more admirable in its orientation towards the full promotion of integral human development, peace, justice, dignity and human freedom.  Proof of this, in addition to the accomplishments of the past, is evident in the many topics you seek to examine in this plenary session; these range from great discoveries in cosmology, to sources of renewable energy, to food security, and even a passionate seminar on power and the limits of artificial intelligence.

In the Encyclical Laudato Si’ I stated that “we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness” (53).  In our modern world, we have grown up thinking ourselves owners and masters of nature, authorized to plunder it without any consideration of its hidden potential and laws of development, as if subjecting inanimate matter to our whims, with the consequence of grave loss to biodiversity, among other ills.  We are not custodians of a museum or of its major artefacts to be dusted each day, but rather co-operators in protecting and developing the life and biodiversity of the planet and of human life present there.   An ecological conversion capable of supporting and promoting sustainable development includes, by its very nature, both the full assuming of our human responsibilities regarding creation and its resources, as well as the search for social justice and the overcoming of an immoral system that produces misery, inequality and exclusion.                

Very briefly, I would say that it falls to scientists, who work free of political, economic or ideological interests, to develop a cultural model which can face the crisis of climatic change and its social consequences, so that the vast potential of productivity will not be reserved only for the few.  Just as the scientific community, through interdisciplinary dialogue, has been able to research and demonstrate our planet’s crisis, so too today that same community is called to offer a leadership that provides general and specific solutions for issues which your plenary meeting will confront: water, renewable forms of energy and food security.  It has now become essential to create, with your cooperation, a normative system that includes inviolable limits and ensures the protection of ecosystems, before the new forms of power deriving from the techno-economic model causes irreversible harm not only to the environment, but also to our societies, to democracy, to justice and freedom.

Within this general picture, it is worth noting that international politics has reacted weakly – albeit with some praiseworthy exceptions – regarding the concrete will to seek the common good and universal goods, and the ease with which well-founded scientific opinion about the state of our planet is disregarded.  The submission of politics to a technology and an economy which seek profit above all else, is shown by the “distraction” or delay in implementing global agreements on the environment, and the continued wars of domination camouflaged by righteous claims, that inflict ever greater harm on the environment and the moral and cultural richness of peoples. 

Despite this, we do not lose hope and we endeavour to make use of the time the Lord grants us.  There are also many encouraging signs of a humanity that wants to respond, to choose the common good, and regenerate itself with responsibility and solidarity.  Combined with moral values, the plan for sustainable and integral development is well positioned to offer all scientists, in particular those who profess belief, a powerful impetus for research.

I extend my best wishes for your work and I invoke upon the activities of the Academy, upon each of you and your families, abundant divine blessings.  I ask you please to not forget to pray for me.  Thank you.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis: Advent calls us to enlarge our horizons

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked the beginning of the new liturgical year at the Angelus for the First Sunday of Advent.

On this Sunday, he said, the Gospel introduces us to one of the most “evocative” themes of the Advent season: the visit of the Lord to humanity. Pope Francis pointed out three visits of the Lord: the first, in the past, with the Incarnation, and Birth of Jesus at Christmas; the second, in the present, as Jesus visits us continually, every day; and the final visit, in the future, when Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”

Advent encourages us to reflect on the contrast between our daily routine and the unexpected coming of the Lord. The Gospel, the Pope said, is not trying to frighten us, but “to open our horizons” to further dimensions, giving meaning even to everyday occurrences.

This perspective, he continued, is also an invitation to “sobriety, to not be dominated by the things of this world” but rather to keep them in their proper place. If, on the other hand, we allow ourselves to be overpowered by a concern for material things, we will not be able to perceive what is much more important: our final encounter with the Lord. And so, the Pope said, Advent is “an invitation to vigilance, because, not knowing when He will come, we must always be ready to depart.”

During Advent, Pope Francis concluded, “we are called to enlarge the horizons of our hearts, to be surprised by the life that is presented each day with its newness. In order to do this we need to learn to not depend on our own securities, our own established plans, because the Lord comes in the hour which we don’t imagine.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope prays for communities struck by natural disasters

(Vatican Radio) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis prayed for the people of Central America, especially those of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which have been hit by hurricane Otto. In recent days, Nicaragua has also felt the effects of a strong earthquake.

Pope Francis also offered prayers for the northern Italy, where heavy rains have led to flooding in a number of communities. 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Telegram for the death of Fidel Castro

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the death of the former President of the State Council and of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, Fidel Castro. 

In a telegram sent to the current president, Raul Castro, the Holy Father also offered his prayers for the former leader, and entrusted the Cuban people to the intercession of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, the patroness of Cuba. 

Here is the full text of the telegram from Pope Francis: 

On receiving the sad news of the death of your dear brother, His Excellency Mister Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, former president of the State Council and of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, I express my sentiments of sorrow to Your Excellency and other family members of the deceased dignitary, as well as to the people of this beloved nation. At the same time, I offer prayers to the Lord for his rest and I entrust the whole Cuban people to the maternal intercession of our Lady of the Charity of El Cobre, patroness of that country.

Francisco, PP. 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Vatican commission on female diaconate holds first meeting

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican announced on Friday that the newly established commission for the study of the female diaconate was holding its first meeting at the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The two day meeting brings together the 12 members of the commission, under the presidency of Jesuit Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, who also serves as Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

During the morning and afternoon sessions, members will study the situation of women deacons in the early centuries of Church history.

Pope Francis announced the setting up of the new commission on August 2nd this year, following a May 12th meeting with participants at a plenary assembly of female religious superiors, who asked him about the possibility of restoring the permanent diaconate for women.

The commission includes six men and six women from eight different countries, with a wide variety of theological perspectives. Five of the members teach at pontifical universities in Rome, while four are members of the International Theological Commission.

The full list of commission members includes:

Sr. Nuria Calduch-Benages, M.H.S.F.N., Member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission;

Prof. Francesca Cocchini, Professor at the University “La Sapienza” and at the Patristic Institute “Augustinianum,” Rome;

Rev.do Msgr. Piero Coda, Dean of the University Institute “Sophia,” Loppiano, and Member of the International Theological Commission;

Rev.do P. Robert Dodaro, O.S.A., Dean Patristic Institute “Augustinianum,” Rome

Rev.do P. Santiago Madrigal Terrazas, S.J., professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical University “Comillas,” Madrid;

Sr. Mary Melone, S.F.A., rector of the Pontifical University “Antonianum,” Rome;

Rev.do Karl-Heinz Menke, Emeritus Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Bonn and member of the International Theological Commission;

Rev.do Aimable Musoni, S.D.B., professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome;

Rev.do P. Bernard Pottier, S.J., Professor at the ”Institut d’Etudes théologiques,” Brussels, and member of the International Theological Commission;

Prof. Marianne Schlosser, Professor of Spiritual Theology at the University of Vienna and a member of the International Theological Commission;

Prof. Michelina Tenace, Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.

Prof. Phyllis Zagano, Professor at Hofstra University, New York.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope sends letter to indigenous Australians

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of St John Paul II’s words to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Alice Springs, Australia on 29 November 1986.

The letter was sent to the Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), John Lochowiak, by the Apostolic Nuncio to Canberra Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana.

The Holy Father writes that, “this anniversary affords me the happy opportunity to express my deep esteem for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for your ancient cultural heritage”.

He also draws from the words of Pope John II which stress, “your culture, which shows the lasting genius and dignity of your race, must not be allowed to disappear. Do not think that your gifts are worth so little that you should no longer bother to maintain them. Share them with each other and teach them to your children. Your songs, your stories, your paintings, your dances, your languages, must never be lost.”

In July the Pope’s prayer intention was for Respect for Indigenous Peoples.

(from Vatican Radio)

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