Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

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Galileo Anniversary Ignites Faith-Science Dialogue

Vatican Joins in Year of Astronomy Conference

By Carmen Elena Villa

FLORENCE, Italy, MAY 26, 2009 ( ).- There is a fundamental dialogue between faith and reason, and an international conference on Galileo can serve to prove it, according to the archbishop of Florence.

Archbishop Giuseppe Betori affirmed this in speaking of the conference under way in his archdiocese on “The Galileo Affair: A Historical, Philosophical and Theological Re-examination.”

The event was inaugurated today at the Basilica of the Holy Cross, where Galileo is buried. It is an initiative of the Jesuits’ Niels Stensen Foundation, and is part of the celebrations for the International Year of Astronomy sponsored by UNESCO.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was at the inauguration. The conference will feature 33 speakers and has brought together 18 institutions, including the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Academy of Science, and the Vatican Observatory.

Archbishop Betori spoke about Galileo and the Church. He asserted that the case has been read for centuries as a “tragic and reciprocal lack of understanding,” reported L’Osservatore Romano.

The prelate said he wants the Year of Astronomy to “re-establish and present again in a creative way the fundamental dialogue that exists between faith and reason, from the perspective of a permanent collaboration between the Church and institutions of scientific investigation, economic development and social promotion.”

“Faith does not grow with the rejection of rationality but rather integrates itself in a more ample horizon of rationality,” Archbishop Betori added.

When reason is separated from faith, he continued, the risk arises “of being reduced to a calculation and an exclusive evaluation of conflicting interests.” In this way, it “often is unaware of or remains blind to the vital questions, fundamental values and dramatic human situations.”

According to the archbishop, the Galileo conference has “not only a high cultural and symbolic value, but also shows that there are conditions for a constructive sharing of responsibilities, in the awareness of respective roles and tasks.”

The event ends May 30 in Florence, in the last home where Galileo lived.

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On the Net:

The Galileo Affair:

Filed under: Faith&Science

Benedict XVI’s Prayer for Those Fallen in War and for Builders of Peace

The Holy Father lit a votive candle and recited the following prayer for the fallen of all countries in all wars:


“O God, our Father,

endless source of life and peace,

welcome into Your merciful embrace

the fallen of the war that raged here,

the fallen on all wars that have bloodied the earth.

Grant that they may enjoy the light that does not fail,

which in the reflection of Your splendour

illumines the consciences of all men and women of good will.

You, Who in Your Son Jesus Christ gave suffering humanity

a glorious witness of Your love for us,

You, Who in our Lord Christ

gave us the sign of a suffering that is never in vain,

but fruitful in Your redeeming power,

grant those who yet suffer

for the blind violence of fratricidal wars

the strength of the hope that does not fade,

the dream of a definitive civilisation of love,

the courage of a real and daily activity of peace.

Give us your Paraclete Spirit

so that the men of our time

may understand that the gift of peace

is much more precious than any corruptible treasure,

and that while awaiting the day that does not end

we are all called to be builders of peace for the future of Your children.

Make all Christians more convinced witnesses of life,

the inestimable gift of Your love,

You Who live and reign for ever and ever


Filed under: Official Statements, Papal Teachings, Spirituality

Roundtable: Book topic “God and the gods”

Newsletter n. 219

Verona 21 May, 2009

18 May 2009 at 17:00, the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Gregorian University organized a round table for the presentation of the book “God and the gods” written by Rt. Rev. Giampaolo Crepaldi, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and President of our Observatory. Presented below is the full text of the author’s statement.


18 MAY 2009




Rt. Rev.   Giampaolo Crepaldi

Secretary of the Pontifical Council for justice and Peace


With this my book God and the gods published by Cantagalli of Siena as part of the Collection of the Cardinal Van Thuân Observatory I sought not only to analyze some of the classical and current themes of the Church’s social doctrine, but above all offer a perspective, a unitary visio as a basis for their consideration. This book in no way shirks the commitment to tackle even the thorniest issues facing us today – from the right to religious freedom to the human rights of the fourth generation – and at the same time strives to revive fundamental arguments for tackling them in a neither opportunistic nor politically correct manner.

From whence did I draw inspiration? Above and beyond the names mentioned in the footnotes, my considerations drew inspiration above all from my reading of the works of Joseph Ratzinger, theologian and Pontiff. I also acknowledge the substantial debts I owe to Romano Guardini on the theological level, and to Augusto Del Noce as far as philosophy is concerned.

Then again, the judgment about Christianity in modernism offered by the three aforementioned scholars reveals considerable features of convergence despite evident difference. This is especially true as far as one point is concerned: modernism will not succeed in reviving itself without Christianity. This is also the thesis presented in this book.

Modernism had the gall to claim that it invented reason, thereby separating it from a broader context of sense constituted by the faith. But without faith in the Word of God incarnate, the Logos, Primordial reason, even our reason, the reason of modernists, becomes lost as it twines around and around itself. In the book I described some of these processes, especially in the areas of democracy, laicity, human rights and technology. And each time I made an effort to show how human reason on its own does not have to force to remain fully faithful to itself.

When discussing “pure nature” with Franco Rodano, Augusta Del Noce said modernism issues forth from the negation of original sin. It is evidently necessary to speak about a “certain” modernism and not modernism as such, because otherwise the meaning of modernism would have negative connotations alone and it would be transformed from an historical and cultural process into an abstract and unchangeable philosophical category.

I am of the opinion that the final destiny of modernism has yet to be decided and that it can recover from the Pelagianism of its origins, which necessarily turns into Gnosticism. Pelagianism consists in holding that nature on its own is able to attain its own natural ends, but today we witness exactly the contrary: nature on its own can’t even be nature, and becomes transformed into culture, or science or technology.

The Pelagianism of modernism necessarily begets Gnosticism: salvation is immanent to me and I can attain it with that certain science or technique I now possess. But this too is in the throes of such a dramatic crisis since science and technology act in an agnostic context in ethical and metaphysical terms. Technology                                                        professes to determine what man is without having any sense of man. Reduced to “pure technique”, what type of salvation can technology ever deliver?

In his “Foreword” Cardinal Martini says: “At the bottommost root of problems there is always a defect of faith. Halfway through the 19 th century the anarchical socialist Proudhon wrote the following words: ‘The first duty of an intelligent and free man is to constantly eject the idea of God from his spirit and his conscience. Because God, if He does exist, is essentially a foe of our nature, and we gain nothing from His authority. Despite Him we attain science, despite Him we attain wellbeing, society, and each of our achievements is a victory in which we crush the Divinity’. Has this ‘despite Him’ proven to be realistic? Is it really true that man may attain science, wellbeing and society without God? How many presumed victories have turned out to be defeats?”

I would now like to say something about the unitary perspective proposed in the book. This could perhaps be expressed as follows: the vocation of the Logos. In fact, I made an effort to project a non positivistic vision of reality, and, especially in the chapters dealing with anthropology, to show how nothing utters itself alone; each thing or reality or person expresses a sense which transcends it. The aridity of our personal, relational and religious life depends on our mounting inability to make things, nature, persons and life speak. Stemming therefrom is a strong resistance to being grateful, to welcoming reality reading in it an appeal addressed to us, a vocation. The book’s first chapter is dedicated to “the human person between vocation and alienation” and sets the tune for the all the rest, beginning with an excerpt taken from Centesimus annus where John Paul II writes that the identity of a person depends on the response to the vocation of God. If things are naught but what I see of them, they embody no message for me and are just there at my beck and call. Even a love or a child, once upon a time looked upon as an undeserved vocation, or a gift as people say in such cases, cease to be events speaking to me, events abounding with prospects of responsibility, duties to be shouldered and ends to be attained, and turn in to cases to be kept under control by imposing my rationale upon them instead of letting myself be challenged by them. What is not accessible to our grasp thins out until it disappears. The space of what is accessible to our grasp expands to encompass each aspect of life and even life itself, which, however, precisely for this reason no longer reveals itself to us as having a sense because the sense we can give to life no longer suffices. Only the meanings we do not construct ourselves satisfy us because they represent a vocation.

Considerations of this nature also have considerable social and political relevance, and are at the heart of the selfsame social doctrine of the Church. In this book I have tried to capitalize as well on the knowledge of the Church’s social doctrine built up over many years of service to the Church in this field of endeavor. Benedict XVI said it so very well in Deus caritas est : the social doctrine is situated at the point of encounter between faith and reason, or, even better, there where the faith purifies reason. As we know, to purify means to reveal a vocation. The faith enables reason to appropriate itself anew, to fly much higher than before, to discover new lands waiting to be explored. This is the key used to analyze the themes of laicity and religious freedom, which I tackle by drawing on the Decree Dignitiatis humanae as a whole, and not just select excerpts.    

Filed under: consumerism, Culture, Economic Policy, morals, Social Doctrine, Spirituality

The Catholic Church serving people with HIV and AIDS

Please go to the following website reference to download a You-Tube video produced by Catholic Relief Services (USA) on the Catholic Church’s response to AIDS – this is the first of a series of such videos:

The Church is one of the biggest care providers for those who have HIV and AIDS around the world.

As AIDS affects every aspect of a person’s life, the Church takes a holistic approach to the disease, focusing on the physical, intellectual and spiritual needs of the person.

Up to 33 million people were living with HIV in 2007. It is a disease which is particularly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, where countries are often poor and services are not always available.

The Church has unprecedented access to people with HIV and AIDS across the world and on a grassroots level. It has a global network of schools, churches, orphanages, hospices, organisations such as Caritas plus an army of faithful who offer their services.

Besides healthcare, it gives counseling to people who have been affected by the illness and offers spiritual guidance to help them face what is possibly one of the toughest challenges of their lives. It also provides the nutritious food which is vital in ensuring antiretroviral treatment is successful.

Other areas the Church works in include educating and informing people about the risk of AIDS and how to prevent it. The Church also focuses its efforts on reducing the stigma and discrimination which often accompanies HIV and AIDS.

Advocacy is a big part of its work. For example, Caritas Internationalis is currently urging governments and pharmaceutical firms to produce child-friendly HIV and AIDS medicines and to improve testing, as many children currently die due to lack of medicines.

All in all, the Church works hard to help people with HIV and AIDS live in hope and, when the time comes, die with dignity.

Filed under: AIDS, Caritas, Catholic Relief Services

Flock Note net and Twitter

Consider joining FlockNote for Catholic related twitters. Also, on TWITTER, follow me and let me follow you at brianrcorbin

Filed under: Uncategorized