Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "There is no opposition” between faith and science, “despite some incidents of misunderstanding that have occurred in history" as "the natural world is a book written by God, which we read from the various approaches offered by the sciences". The “dialogue" between science and faith, a theme dear to Benedict XVI, was the subject of his address to the 11 thousand people present in St Peter's Square for the general audience.
The opportunity to readdress the subject was given the Pope by the figure of the figure of Saint Albert the Great, "one of the greatest teachers of scholastic theology." The title of "great," he recalled, "indicates the breadth and depth of his doctrine, which he associated with sanctity of life."
He was born in Germany in the early thirteenth century, and studied at Padua, home of one of the most famous universities in the Middle Ages. He devoted himself to so-called "liberal arts": grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music, expressing an interest in the natural sciences, which would become "his favourite field of specialization. In Padua he attended the Dominicans, which he then joined, "overcoming his family’s resistance."
He dedicated himself to teaching, attended the University of Paris, and in 1248 was commissioned to open a theological study in Cologne, which became his adopted city. "He brought an exceptional student with him from Paris to Cologne, Thomas Aquinas."
In 1254 Albert was elected Provincial of the Teutonic Province of the Dominicans. Pope Alexander VI wanted him as a consultant theologian, and named him bishop of Regensburg. From 1260 to 1264 Albert carried out this ministry with tireless dedication, managing to bring peace and harmony to the city, reorganizing parishes and convents, giving new impetus to charitable activities. "He was above all a man of reconciliation and peace"; he "applied himself during the course of the Second Council of Lyons in 1274, convened by Pope Gregory X to promote the union of the Latin and the Greek Church, after the separation of the great schism of the East in 1054, he explained the thought of Thomas Aquinas, who was the subject of objections and even entirely unjustified convictions. He died in his convent of Santa Croce in Cologne in 1280, was beatified in 1622 and canonized in 1931 by Pope Pius XI, who proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church and patron of natural scientists. He is also known as "Doctor Universalis" because of the breadth of his interests and his knowledge. St. Albert was indeed "great man of God and distinguished scholar not only of the truths of faith, but of many other fields of knowledge," "his level of culture has something of the miraculous".
Although the "scientific methods employed by St. Albert the Great are not those that would prevail in later centuries," he "still has much to teach us. Above all he shows that there is no opposition between faith and science, despite some incidents of misunderstanding in history. A man of faith and prayer, such as St. Albert the Great, can peacefully cultivate the study of natural sciences ", "discovering the laws of matter, as long as all this is conducive to the thirst and the love for God. The Bible speaks of creation as the first language by which God, who is supreme intelligence, who is Logos, reveals something of himself. The Book of Wisdom, for example, states that the phenomena of nature, with grandeur and beauty, are like the works of an artist, through which, similarly, we can know the Author of creation".
How many scientists, in fact, "have continued their research inspired by wonder and gratitude for the world that, in their eyes as scholars and believers, appeared and appears as the good work of a wise and loving Creator. Scientific study is thus transformed into a hymn of praise. This was understood by the great astrophysicist of our time, whose cause for beatification has been presented, Enrico Medi ".
St. Albert the Great, in short, "reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith, and that men of science can, through their vocation to the study nature, experience a truly fascinating journey of holiness."
The pope also recalled that it was thanks to this great thinker that the "mistrust" of the Christian thought of his time towards the works of Aristotle was overcome, which "demonstrates the power of reason, explained with clarity and the meaning and structure of reality, its intelligibility, the value and purpose of human actions. " That of St. Albert was "a real cultural revolution".
Here lies one of the great merits of St Albert, "with scientific rigor he studied of the works of Aristotle, convinced that whatever is rational is compatible with the faith revealed in Scripture," he has contributed to the formation of a philosophy of self that is distinct from theology. "This sparked a clear distinction between philosophy and theology, which, in dialogue with each other, work together harmoniously to discover the true vocation of man, thirsting for truth and happiness: and it is especially theology, defined by St Albert 'affective science', which indicates to man his call to eternal joy, a joy that flows from full adherence to the truth. "