REFLECTIONS ON THE POPE'S MONTHLY INTENTIONS
Editor's Note: Apostleship of Prayer receives monthly prayer intentions from the pope and urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for those intentions. The reflections below seek to illuminate the Holy Father's concerns.
Many people think that science and religion are in conflict. Yet some of the greatest scientists have been priests. Franciscan Fr. Francis Bacon is known as “the father of the modern scientific method.” Fr. Nicholas Copernicus confirmed the theory that the earth revolved around the sun. In 1933 Jesuit Father Georges Lemaitre introduced the “Big Bang” theory about the expanding universe which he called the “hypothesis of the primeval atom” or “Cosmic Egg.” More than 40 lunar craters are named after Jesuit astronomers. The founder of modern genetics was the Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel.
Science and the Church are not in conflict because both seek the truth. However, where science seeks the what and the how of things, religion seeks the why. The why is important because it ultimately guides how we use the knowledge gained from science. When science and the technology are not guided by the higher truths about the dignity of the human person, they end up causing more harm than good. As Archbishop Charles Chaput has said, “Fools with tools are still fools.”
And we could add, very dangerous fools! Pope Francis told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that when humanity acts without wisdom, trying to take the place of God, it ends up destroying creation. We are co-creators, working with God to care for creation according to the Creator’s plan.
Pope Francis held up his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, saying, “His love for the truth is not limited to theology and philosophy, but extends to science. His love for science spills over into regard for scientists.”
Thus we pray that researchers may always seek the entire truth and work for the physical and spiritual well-being of all people.
Can you think of any ways in which science, disregarding the higher truths, ends up harming people?
Psalm 19 The heavens declare the glory of God.
Another common misunderstanding is that the Church is against women. While members of the Church may exhibit sinful attitudes and behaviors toward women, the Church honors women.
The world tends to ignore the unique qualities and gifts of women, saying that equality is based, not on their being made in the image of God, but on their becoming like men.
Dr. Karl Stern addressed this in his 1965 book “The Flight from Woman.” Stern was a Jewish psychiatrist who fled Nazi Germany in 1936 and immigrated to Canada where he became Catholic. His thesis is that the Age of Reason has led to the de-feminization and de-humanization of society which rejects intuitive wisdom and “womanly values.”
Pope Francis asks us to pray that the Church will recognize the unique contribution of women and help society do so as well. In The Joy of Gospel he wrote: “The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition, and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood.”
This echoes St. John Paul II who wrote: “Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts.” Women, more than men, are nurturers. And in a world burdened by a culture of death, we need the unique gifts of women more than ever.
How would I describe the “distinctive skill sets” that women have and which society needs?
Luke 10: 38-42 Martha and Mary care for Jesus in different ways.
God, the Creator, your servant St. John Paul II said that “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” Give to all scientists a deep love for truth. May their research be used in ways that respect human dignity and all of creation. Amen.
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