Pope Benedict: Faith and science work together

pope    Belief in God is not only compatible with science, it is ultimately necessary for the preservation of human life on earth, Pope Benedict XVI said.
    “Faith, truly lived, does not conflict with science, rather it cooperates with it, offering it basic criteria so that it promotes the good of everyone, asking that it forsake only those efforts that – by going against God’s own plan – can produce effects that backfire against humanity,” he said.
    The pope spoke about “the reasonableness of faith as an encounter with the splendor of God’s truth” during his weekly audience Nov. 21.
    “It is reasonable to believe,” he told 6,000 pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. “Our lives are at stake.”
    While science is constantly discovering new truths about man and the cosmos, faith reveals what is truly good for humanity and “opens the horizon toward which (humanity) must direct its journey of discovery,” he said.
    Religion teaches science to see human beings as the governors and custodians of creation, he said. “Man stands at the summit of creation not to exploit it foolishly but to take care of it and render it livable.”
    “Therefore it is critical that humanity open itself up to faith and knowing about God and his plan of salvation in Jesus Christ.”
    Science is “a valuable ally of faith” since it helps unlock God’s plan hidden in the many mysteries of the universe, he said. Faith, too, helps science serve the good and promote “the truth of man” in fidelity to the divine order.
    The pope dismissed arguments that human reason is hindered by Catholic dogma.
    “The exact opposite is true,” he said, since intelligence and faith are necessary conditions for understanding the meaning and authentic message of divine revelation.
    Mysteries of the faith are not irrational but represent an “overabundance of meaning, significance and truth,” the pope said. “If reason sees darkness when looking at mystery, it’s not because mystery has no light, but rather because it has too much,” like the sun which causes blindness in one who stares directly at it.
    Faith allows people to look straight at “the sun” of God and receive “all the brightness of God’s mystery, recognizing the great miracle” that God became man and made himself knowable and understandable to the limited human heart and mind.
    At the end of his general audience talk, the pope noted that the Nov. 21 celebration of the feast of the Presentation of Mary was also a day of prayer for cloistered religious.
    He expressed his special closeness to all religious women who have been called to contemplative life.
    He urged Christians to offer “the necessary spiritual and material support” for these communities and monasteries adding, “We owe much to these people who consecrate themselves” so that they can devote themselves “entirely to prayer for the church and the world.”
Plea for Middle East peace
    At the end of his audience, the pope condemned escalating hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, saying hatred and violence are never an appropriate solution to problems. He also called for greater efforts to promote a truce and peace negotiations.
    “I am following with great concern the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” the pope said.
    “Hatred and violence are not the solution to problems,” he said to applause.
    “I encourage the initiatives and efforts of those who are seeking to establish a cease-fire and to promote negotiations,” he said.
    He also called on leaders on both sides of the conflict to make “courageous decisions in favor of peace and put an end to a conflict that has negative repercussions throughout the entire Middle East region, which is already troubled by too many conflicts and is in need of peace and reconciliation.”
    The pope expressed his closeness to all those suffering because of the violence. His appeal came as both sides in the conflict launched fresh attacks. Just hours before the pope spoke, a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv, wounding at least 10 people. That attack followed a weeklong Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip aimed at stopping rocket strikes by Palestinian militants.
    More than 140 Palestinians and at least five Israelis have been killed since Israel launched its offensive.
    In the United States, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace urged the U.S. to provide leadership to end the violence and retaliation unfolding in the region.
    “An immediate cease-fire must be negotiated as a precondition so that leaders on both sides can give Israelis and Palestinians hope for a different future free of fear and full of promise,” Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, said in a letter to National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon.

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