Pope to Pontifical Academy: ‘Science is a tool for peace’
By Sophie Peeters
Over the last three days, the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has been taking place in the Vatican under the theme “Basic Science for Human Development, Peace, and Planetary Health”.
Greeting participants on Saturday, Pope Francis reflected on how best to use the knowledge of “basic science” to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including climate change and ongoing wars.
Basic science connected with current crisis
In his speech, Pope Francis began with a reflection on the history of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which began in 1603.
This Academy, the Pope said, is unique in its place within a religious institution, saying that the Church “embraces and encourages a passion for scientific research” as a way to express “love for the truth and for knowledge about the world.”
Our ability to creatively wonder and ask “why”, the Pope continued, “emerges from a deeply Christian perspective in contemplation,” along with the “complementary task of caring for creation.”
Pope Francis said the theme of the session is about connecting “basic science” with resolving current challenges. He called for an “interconnected approach” that reflects the growing need for interdisciplinary studies which can help “provide answers to humanity’s ultimate questions.”
Needs for fraternity, justice, and peace
The drive toward scientific achievements, continued Pope Francis, “must always be directed to the needs of fraternity, justice, and peace”, in order to “help meet the great challenges facing our human family and our environment.”
The Pope congratulated the Academy on its extensive history in addressing various global emergencies and efforts in engaging with politics and science, always using the discoveries of science and technology to benefit people, especially the most disadvantaged.
Positive results can be achieved, he added, only when scientists seek the truth and “apply discoveries in a way that develops in tandem with the search for what is right, noble, good and beautiful.”
Aims of building peace amidst ‘third world war’
Promoting knowledge with the goal of building peace, the Pope said, should be emphasized, as the world has increasingly turned away from respect for human rights, international law, and mutual cooperation.
This “third world war” is putting people at ever greater risk, the Pope lamented, and more must be done to avoid wars and “overcome suffering, poverty, and new forms of slavery.”
Scientists must come together to “disarm science and thus become a force for peace,” Pope Francis said.
The Pope concluded with an appeal towards greater “ecological conversion” in order to “save our common home and life”, rather than “increasing inequality, exploitation, and destruction.”