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Vatican has science friends

VATICAN CITY (CNS): A recent visit by a Vatican delegation to CERN – one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research – has opened up an important channel of communication between science and faith, the Vatican representative to United Nations agencies in Geneva said.

The representative Archbishop Silvano Tomasi was part of the delegation led by president of the commission governing Vatican City Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo.

The head of the Vatican Observatory Jesuit Father Jose Funes and a Vatican astronomer United States Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno were also part of delegation visiting the world’s largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva on June 3.

CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) director-general Rolf-Dieter Heuer was interested in having the Vatican come to the world famous facility “because he wanted this visit to be a way to establish a link to the Holy See”, Archbishop Tomasi told Catholic News Service by phone on June 9.

The idea of having the Vatican visit CERN came from Ugo Amaldi, the president of TERA Foundation, which collaborates closely with CERN in finding ways to apply atomic research in treating cancer, especially in children, the archbishop said.

In an e-mail response to questions by CNS, Cardinal Lajolo said he “gladly accepted the invitation to visit CERN because of my own interest regarding the farthest limits that astrophysical science is striving to reach with proton acceleration”.

He said the discovery of new sub-atomic particles may help confirm Princeton University professor Edward Witten’s Superstring Theory, which seeks to unify Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum physics.

In an opening statement during a round-table discussion on science and faith in dialogue on June 3, Cardinal Lajolo said scientific truths and theological truths can never contradict each other because all truths “are derived from the same source, which is God”.

Archbishop Tomasi said “a good channel of communication has been established” with CERN and its scientists, even with those who don’t believe in any religion.

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