" Science Never Conflicts With Faith "
—Says the Pope, in a "Motu Pro trio."
In a " Motu Proprio," Pope Pius XI has reconstituted the old Academia Dei Lincei and renamed it the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
The true relation between the Church and the acquiring of secular knowledge, between Faith and Science is expounded by the Sovereign Pontiff.
Seventy Academicians have been named, three of them distinguished English men of Science. They are —Lord Rutherford, Sir Charles Sherrington, and Professor T. Whittaker.
" Among the many consolations," writes the Pope in the Motu Proprio, "with which the Divine Goodness has blessed Our pontificate, We wish to mention the one of having enabled Us to see not a few of those who devote themselves to researches into the secrets of nature changing their habit of mind and way of looking at things in regard to religious questions.
" Science, which is a true knowledge of things, never conflicts with the truths of the Christian Faith; thus—as those who have studied the history of science cannot but confess— it must be recognised that on the one hand the Roman pontiffs, together with the Church, have always favoured the !researches of learned men, even in experimental matters, and that, on the other hand, these researches have paved the way for the defence of the treasure of super
natural truth, confided to that same Church. Wherefore, as the Vatican council solemnly taught, " not only cannot Faith and Reason ever be in disagreement, but they bring one another mutual help . . " (Session 3, Chap. 4).
It is unfortunately true (the Pope continues) that in times very near to our own, several learned men—certainly not through have of the truth—have left the Church as prodigal sons; and especially in the course of the last century it was taught with false and bold reasoning that the teachings of human science are in open conflict with those of Divine Revelation.
The Brotherhood of Science
But it is a profound joy to Us to see that these prejudices are in our times so outgrown that hardly anyone can be found who, after having studied with any depth the positive sciences, continues to uphold this error.
On the contrary, We will not hide that in the course of Our Pontificate, men of no little learning in the sciences—among whom there are men of the highest worth, who are universally acclaimed— have come from many and far countries to Rome, to take part in scientific congresses; they have come into Our pre sence to express their devotion to Us, or rather, to that Authority which always is in force in the Apostolic See, even in an unworthy successor of St. Peter.
It has sometimes happened that among these there were some who, although not having the most precious gift of the Catholic Faith, have felt it their duty to pay homage to this our Chair, which is the Chair of Truth.
Nor were there lacking those who, addressing Us in their own name and in the name of their colleagues, rightly have not hesitated to affirm that true science leads, prepares, and points souls to the Faith; this confession has given Us a profound joy.
Given, therefore, these favourable circumstances, both of things and time, We have judged it opportune to give a new impulse and new increment to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The ,Pope then gives a short history of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which may be briefly summarised as follows:— This private academy was founded in 1603, and established under the name of " Pontificia.Accwienda del Nuovi Lincei"; its aim was to promote and profit the study of science, through the voluntary co-operation of all its members.
In 1847 it was reformed by Pius 1X, and in 1887: during the pontificate of Leo XIII, it was placed under papal patronage, and Pius XI, at the beginning of his pontificate, gave it quarters in the Vatican.
The Pope then goes on to say:— " We have so much at heart the progress of human sciences: and as We are interested in the splendour of this Our Apostolic See, and Our Vatican City, constituted by Us; after We have given to the Academy the necessary impulse to make it worthy of this See, so rich in historical associations, We have thought it opportune to reform it almost completely, and We have chosen for this task the date which reminds Us of the greatest benefit received from the Divine Goodness, the anniversary of Our Episcopal consecration, conferred on Us seventeen years ago."
The new academy. which is to be called the " Pontifical Academy of Sciences," will have seventy members, chosen from all over the world.
The statutes are made up of thirty-four articles; and the heads of such Pontifical Scientific Institutes as the Observatory (Father Stein, Si.); the library; the Missionary Museum of Ethnology (Father Schmidt, S.V.D., is the scientific director), etc., will be supernumerary members.
The honorary members include Cardinal Serafini (Prefect of the Congregation of Seminaries); Cardinal Pacelli (Secretary of State); Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani (the Cardinal Vicar); and Prince Chigi (Grand Master of the Order of Malta). Father Gemelli, 0.F.M., Rector of the Catholic University of Milan, is the President.
The academicians include 33 Italians, 6 Americans, 5 Frenchmen, 5 Germans, 5 Belgians, 4 Dutchmen, 3 Englishmen, 2 Austrians, I Czech, 1 Portuguese, 1 Argentine, I Chinese, 1 Pole, 1 Dane, and 1 Norwegian. These include such famous names as the Marchese Marconi (Rome University), General Nobile (Naples University), Birkhoff (Harvard), Picard (Sorbonne), Planck (Berlin University), Taylor (Princeton University), Gilson (Padua University), Gregoire (Catholic University of Louvain), Lord Rutherford of Nelson (Cambridge University), Whittaker (Edinburgh University), and Sherrington (Oxford University).
" From these men," the Pope concludes, " the Apostolic See awaits that lustre and that help of which this Senate gives the promise. Nor will it seem excessive if We call this Institute of Science almost the Senate of the Apostolic See in the field of Science; since every honour given by the learned to God is a worthy homage of reason to the Supreme Truth, and a very noble worship of the Creator."
The Pope ends the Mow Proprio by imparting the Papal blessing to the members of the Pontifical Academy.
The inaugural ceremony of the new Academy will take place on February 6, the anniversary of Pius XI's election to the Pontificate.