By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
The Pontifical Academy of Science (PAS) is meeting in Rome for its Plenary Assembly. Members of the Academy met in audience with Pope Francis on Monday. The Pope welcomed them and thanked them for their contribution to providing solutions for many of the world’s contemporary problems.
Scientific world and society
Pope Francis began his address acknowledging that the scientific world is more aware of how complex the world and human beings are. He noted that this has led science to be less isolated and more open to spiritual and religious values. “Commonly shared opinions” and the “desire for happiness” often influence scientific research, the Pope added. Therefore, the relationship between values and people, society and science “demands a rethinking” that promotes the “integral advancement” of each person and the common good. As a part of society, the scientific community is called to serve humanity and its integral development, the Pope said.
Science at the service of the human family
Some areas Pope Francis named as “possible fruits” of that service are: climate change, nuclear arms, fossil fuels, and deforestation. Science has identified the risks in these areas, the Pope said, so they can also propose convincing solutions to the world’s leaders.
The Pope said he appreciates that the PAS is employing the latest knowledge to propose solutions and combat “scourges” confronting society. “Human trafficking” and the consequent “forced labor, prostitution and organ trafficking”, and the “elimination of hunger and thirst” are the two issues the Pope focused on. He mentioned that there are “eight hundred million needy and excluded” persons in the world suffering from lack of food and water. A “change in our way of living” is necessary, he said.
Lack of will
Turning his remarks to the political sphere, Pope Francis expressed that there “is a lack of will and political determination to halt the arms race and end wars”. This is necessary to move toward developing “sources of renewable energy,” “ensuring water, food and health for all,” and investing capital for the common good.
“Charity of knowledge”
The Church expects a “positive service” from science, Pope Francis said – the “charity of knowledge”, as St Paul VI termed it. Knowledge is what the scientific community has, Pope Francis continued. In the name of those who rarely benefit from the world’s knowledge, the Pope advocated for them.
“May your research benefit all, so that the peoples of the earth will be fed, given to drink, healed and educated; may politics and economics draw indications from you on how to advance with greater certainty towards the common good, for the benefit especially of the poor and those in need, and towards respect for our planet.”