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Friday, March 11, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 11, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, there was a presentation of the second phase of the STOQ Project (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest), one of the world's most prestigious current research programs on the relationship between science, philosophy and theology.

  In his talk, Cardinal Paul Poupard indicated that the project is being coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Culture, of which he is president, and involves the Pontifical Lateran and Gregorian Universities, as well as the Pontifical Athenaeum "Regina Apostolorum." Other pontifical universities also have some degree of involvement in the project, which is financially supported by the John Templeton Foundation and other sponsors in various countries.

  The cardinal explained that the project "consists of a series of organically-coordinated initiatives at three different levels: the first and fundamental level is that of teaching, with the object of forming specialists in the field of dialogue between science and faith. This will take place by means of graduate studies programs in each university with a view to attaining a degree (bachelors or masters), and with the possibility of exchanging academic credits between the various universities involved in the project."

  The president of the pontifical council affirmed that the project also includes: "the definition of joint programs with other public and private universities, with the possibility of attaining a form of double recognition; scholarships for doctoral theses; and the organization of an international congress in November 2005 on the theme 'Infinity in Science, Philosophy and Theology,' in which scientists, theologians and philosophers from all over the world will participate."

  As for the final aim of the project, the cardinal said that it sought "to contribute to dialogue between areas of research and study that, in the modern age, have slowly become separated." To this end, its is necessary "to build firm bridges and create fruitful exchanges between science, philosophy and theology through dialogue among their respective practitioners."

  Professor Vincenzo Cappelletti, president of the Italian Society of the History of Science, indicated that the project offers a chance to create "unity between the two elements that in modern times constitute (the university institution): the philosophical-humanistic element, and the scientific-experimental element."

  Professor Gianfranco Basti, director of the STOQ Project, explained the results of the first year of activity, during which more than 300 students have followed the 12 academic courses and four seminars of the project in the universities involved: Gregorian, Lateran and Regina Apostolorum.

  "The method we follow in implementing the study program of the STOQ Project," he said, "is to give our philosophy and theology students the possibility of following scientific courses within our humanistic faculties. ... This means renewing the old tradition of teaching mathematics and natural sciences in the pontifical Roman universities, as an organic part of the curricula of philosophy and theology students."

  "Each of the universities is developing a specific theme: while the Gregorian University is concentrating on the problems of the foundation of the philosophy of science and nature, the Lateran University is devoting itself to the systematic formalization of the relationship between science and humanism, also using the new discipline of 'formal ontology,' paying particular attention to an 'anthropology for the third millennium.' For its part, the Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum is dedicating itself to a deeper study of the relationships between theology, philosophy and sciences of life (biology), with particular reference to ethical nuances (bioethics)."
OP/SCIENCE:THEOLOGY/POUPARD                    VIS 20050311 (580)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 11, 2005 (VIS) - Made public this afternoon was a Message from Pope John Paul to Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dal-es-Salaam and Bishop Severine Niwemugizi of Rulenge, Tanzania, who is also the president of the Episcopal Conference of Tanzania, who were welcomed by the Pope at 12:30 p.m. today in Gemelli Hospital. The prelates are in Rome for their "ad limina" visit.

  "I greet you from Gemelli Hospital," writes the Holy Father, "where I offer my prayers and my sufferings for you: in these days I feel especially close to you." He says he wishes, in his Message, to underscore "three integral parts of your pastoral ministry; care of the family; care of the clergy and care for the common good of society in your region."

  "The world can learn much," the Pope writes, "from the high value that is placed upon the family as a building block of African society." The Church must give "special priority to the pastoral care of the family, because of the great cultural changes taking place in the modern world. ... For example, the unjust practice of linking programs of economic assistance to the promotion of sterilization and contraception must be strenuously resisted" as they are "affronts to the dignity of the person and the family."

  The Pope says marriage is "sacred, ... one and indissoluble by nature" and "has to remain open to the generation of new life. ... The promotion of genuine family values is all the more urgent on account of the terrible scourge of AIDS afflicting your country and so much of the African continent. Fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside it are the only sure ways to limit the further spread of infection. ... It especially grieves me to consider the many thousands of children left as orphans in the wake of the merciless virus."

  Turning to care for the clergy, John Paul II indicates that a bishop must be "a father, brother and a friend" to his closest collaborators. He urges prelates to help priests "grow in holiness and in single-hearted commitment to discipleship" and "to enkindle within them a genuine longing for the Kingdom of God. Continue to encourage them in their gifts, sustain them in their difficulties and form them to meet the demands of priestly life today. I know that you appreciate the importance of seminary formation and the need to assign your best priests to this task."

  On the question of the Church's care for the common good, the Holy Father underlines the steps taken by the episcopal conference "to combat the material deprivation afflicting so many of your people" and says that "cooperation between Church and State on such matters of great social concern deserves to be commended." He also notes Tanzania's contributions "to building peace and stability in East Africa" and its generosity "in providing a home for thousands of refugees fleeing persecution in their own countries."

  He closes his remarks by stressing the challenge "to maintain and strengthen respectful relations with the Muslim community" and the "serious commitment to inter-religious dialogue."
AL/.../TANZANIA:GEMELLI                    VIS 20050311 (500)

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