By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Science and faith are not at loggerheads, but are two distinct paths that together can lead to the truth, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Many scientists, in fact, have carried forth their research inspired by the wonder and gratitude they feel for God and his creation, thus turning “scientific study into a hymn of praise,” he said March 24 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
“Despite some episodes of misunderstanding that have occurred in history, faith and science are not in opposition,” he said.
The pope’s audience talk focused on the life and teachings of St. Albert the Great, a 13th-century Dominican, doctor of the church and patron saint of the natural sciences.
St. Albert, who also taught St. Thomas Aquinas, was a prolific scholar and theologian and immersed himself in the study of chemistry, astronomy, geology, botany and zoology, the pope said.
He showed that a person of faith and prayer “can serenely cultivate studies of natural sciences and make advancements in the understanding of the micro- and macro-cosmos, discovering laws pertaining to the material world” in a quest driven by thirst and love for God, the pope said.
The saint demonstrated that faith is not opposed to reason and that creation “can be seen as a ‘book’ written by God and capable of being ‘read’ in its own way by the various sciences,” he said.
St. Albert showed that the pre-Christian Greek philosophy of Aristotle was not to be feared as being incompatible with the Christian faith because “that which is truly rational is compatible with the faith revealed in sacred Scripture,” he said.
While philosophy and theology represent two different methodologies, he said, they are “in dialogue with each other and cooperate harmoniously in the discovery of humanity’s true vocation” to truth and happiness.
At the end of his general audience, the pope presented a wooden statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, patron saint of Chile, to a delegation of Chilean political and religious leaders, including Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago.
The papal gift was to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Chilean independence, to be celebrated Sept. 18.
The statue will be brought to Chile in April by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and then it will make a pilgrimage to every diocese in the country, according to Vatican Radio.
The Chilean ambassador to the Vatican, Pablo Cabrera, told Vatican Radio that the gift would help bring spiritual comfort to the country, which is still recovering from a strong earthquake on Feb. 27.
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Editor’s Note: The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100324_en.html.
The text of the pope’s audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100324_sp.html.
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