How Should the Catholic Church Interact With Science?III St. John Paul II’s Rapprochement, by Bob Kurland

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By Bob Kurland, Catholic Stand, 8 September AD 2019

Turning to the relationship between religion and science, there has been a definite, though still fragile and provisional, movement towards a new and more nuanced interchange. We have begun to talk to one another on deeper levels than before, and with greater openness towards one another’s perspectives. We have begun to search together for a more thorough understanding of one another’s disciplines, with their competencies and their limitations, and especially for areas of common ground. In doing so we have uncovered important questions which concern both of us, and which are vital to the larger human community we both serve. It is crucial that this common search based on critical openness and interchange should not only continue but also grow and deepen in its quality and scope.
—Pope St. John Paul II, Letter to Fr. George V. Coyne, Director of the Vatican Observatory, on the Occasion of the study week, “Physics, Philosophy and Theology—a Common Quest for Understanding,” 1987.

From saintedward-com

Our Times: Pope St. Paul II’S Rapproachment With Science

This article, the third in a series (see here and here), will deal with Pope St. John Paul II’s rapprochement with science. I choose his practice as a model for how the Church should deal with science.

Let me add: the term “rapprochement” has been chosen with care: “an establishment or resumption of harmonious relations” (Oxford English Dictionary).   The term is applied to peace treaties after a state of war, and although the Catholic Church has not declared war on science, there are those scientists who do think there is such a war, and there are those advocates of scientism—that science explains all we need to know about the world—who have declared war on the Church.    These last ignore the founding contribution of the Church to the establishment of science (see here).

There are three ways in which Pope St. John Paul II tried to bring about this rapprochement:  1) redressing the Galileo Affair;  2) making the position of the Church on evolution clear and consistent with both dogma and science;  3) instituting conferences on how Divine Intervention might be manifested in several scientific disciplines. The first two have been dealt with here.   Accordingly, I’ll focus on the third, which has been an invaluable resource for me in learning about the intersection of science and religion.  ….