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CATHOLICISM IN THE WORLD OF SCIENCE - a report

INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON

CATHOLICISM IN THE WORLD OF SCIENCE

17-20 DECEMBER, 2010

PATRIARCHAL SEMINARY,

RACHOL, GOA, INDIA

IN COLLABORATION WITH PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE. VATICAN , DIVISION OF HUMANITIES OF ST. JOHN’S UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, AND INDIAN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION, PUNE

CONSOLIDATED REPORT

The International conference, ‘Catholicism in the World of Science’, was organized to commemorate the 400 year anniversary of the foundation of the seminary in Rachol, India. This great institution has served and continues to serve the church and society in very many ways.  At the dawn of the fourth centenary, the eventful dynamism  the  seminary  became a tremendous occasion to  re-energize and work to build a new synergy in the  entire seminary community and the church in Goa.

The international conference is in congruence with the glorious tradition of the four hundred years old institution. Beginning as a Jesuits college in the East, it later transformed into a seminary that trains the local clergy following the teachings of the great council of Trent but continued to mediate between the East and the West and bridge the Christian world with the non-Christian world. It was in the same spirit of mediation that  the seminary celebrated the conference on the theme of Catholicism in the world of Science  

Priestly formation has been always close to the heart of the Catholic Church. All through the ages, especially in our days, the Church has shown great interest in the noble task of formation. The intellectual turn of  the council of Trent and the pastoral emphasis of the Vatican II  was taken to a new level by the Apostolic exportation , Patores Dabo Vobis  of Pope John Paul II where his holiness clearly give a clarion call  for a Holistic paradigm of priestly formation. The identification of the human, the spiritual, the intellectual and the pastoral areas of formation clearly indicates the priority of holistic formation. The church in India has also taken the task of formation of priests seriously and has constantly issued guidelines and animated the process in our country. The Apostolic visitation  was the moment of grace and the challenging task of formation received new impetus and direction through the revised  charter of priestly formation for India..

Reading the signs of the time and being sensitive to the challenges to life and ministry of a priest, the church has always updated its programme of priestly formation. We are indeed blessed to live in times of tremendous growth of science and technology. Science  not only influences what we can have but what we can be. The role of science has radically changed in our society. Science plays a crucial role in determining how we leave but also how long we live, not only how we think but what we think. Ina way science has the power to define what we live for determining our value systems.   Today it has rapidly become a worldview touching every aspect of our life, exerting a great influence on humans in our time.

The age of discovery is slowly giving the way to the age of mastery in the world of science. The new developments in science are projected to hit humanity in three key areas : quantum revolution, producing new sources of energy, the computer revolution producing artificial intelligence capable of even out smarting humans and bio-molecular revolution, allowing manipulation of life almost at will.

Science has successfully answered some of the perennial questions of humanity such as the origin and destiny of the universe, origin and destiny of life, particularly human life. Besides, the developments in biotechnology, cognitive  science, synthetic biology, neuroscience, information technology, nanotechnology etc., make many promises and pose several challenges to humanity.

Therefore, a priest who is a leader and shepherd of the community has the responsibility  to be a visionary, learned guide to the people under his care. It was  with this noble goals the seminary launched to celebrate its jubilee with an international conference.   Besides, we have begun to look at the world of science as a new areopagus situation that provides  great opportunity for priestly ministry at the care of scientific community. The secular space of science can be seen as a new pulpit that provides great opportunity for proclamation of faith as well as its deeper understanding and firmer practice.

The  dialogue of science and faith could provide fertile ground for a profound understanding of catholic faith and morals and the seminarians as  ‘the priests-to-be’ being spiritual leaders of tomorrow would draw tremendous resource from science  that would enable them to be effective pastors of the faithful. Moreover, science and religion dialogue becomes simultaneously inter-faith dialogue in our country.

The international conference was celebrated in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Culture, Division of Humanities of St. John University New York ,  Indian Institute of Science and Religion Pune Besides  the collaborating institutions the Seminary has received financial assistance from Missio Achen to meet  part of the expenditure of the conference.  

The resource persons   of the conference were comprised of  nationally and internationally recognized experts within the community that  engaged with science and theology. Each day an average of  230 people attended to the deliberations in the conference. The participants were a mixture of ordained, religious and the laity that engaged with science  as well as a few non-Christians.   The conference received an extensive media coverage both in the print form as well as television. It was also webcasted live by the Archdiocesan communication center.

Over the four days of the conference,  the sessions  were  moderated by a national and international range of scholars, themselves familiar with the  dialogue of science  with Christian faith. The speakers effectively  placed their science in conversation with the Catholic tradition.  In doing so, a unifying lens and platform was given- that of the integrity of creation, our response to God, and our responsibility for God’s creation-human and nonhuman in harmony with catholic faith and morals.   In addition to these lectures, group sessions were facilitated on two days to immediately gather  perspectives  on various issues evoked by the conference.  These suggestions and perspectives were  shared with all the participants  in a two reporting sessions. All the deliberations were held in the Seminary Hall from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm.

Day One: 17 December, 2010
The first day of the conference set the tone for the entire conference. The inaugural ceremony, the keynote address, two sessions and a discussion in groups marked the schedule of the day.

The Inaugural Ceremony

The inaugural ceremony began with  prayer service that integrated the theme of the conference. It was effectively conducted by the seminarians of Rachol. The Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao along with the Rector, Rev  Fr. Denis Fenandes, Rev Dr. Theodore Mascarenhas of the pontifical council for culture, Rev. Dr. Basilo Monteiro of the Division of Humanities, St. John University, New York, Rev. Dr Job Kozhamthadam of the Indian Institute of Science and Religion , Pune  and  Rev. Dr. Victor Ferrao, the convenor of the seminar having lit the traditional lamp adorned  the dais.  The resource persons as well as the participants were warmly welcomed by the Rector Rev. Fr. Denis Fernandes. It was followed by the a brilliant and erudite inaugural address of Archbishop, his Grace Filipe Neri Ferrao .  His Grace described  the conversation between Science and Catholicism as a two way process addressing faith in the context of science. The conversation has been a long history and has been always encouraged by the Catholic Church particularly in the infancy of science. Although the relationship has not been always smooth especially in the context of the Galileo episode and the militantly atheistic Darwinism, in our days the clouds of enmity are blown away and atmosphere of  dialogue has emerged. The foundation of papal observatory and the academy of sciences, the reopening of the case of Galileo, the letter of Pope John Paul II to the scientists and encyclical Fides et Ratio have all demonstrated the openness of the church to the world of science.  Hence,  his grace gave a clarion call to continue the dialogue as it could illumine our faith and strengthen its practice. He further pointed out that  Catholics have the duty to evangelize science and the scientific community of science and said that the table of fellowship of science simultaneously an table of inter-religious fellowship in our country.   

Rev. Dr. Theodore Macarenahs, official representing the pontifical council for culture read the message of his eminence Gianfranco Cardinal  Ravassi, President of the  Pontifical Council for Culture. His Eminence  declared that the  conference was a timely confirmation of Rachol’s 400 year leadership and stewardship ready to take up with new challenges. He stressed the science and faith are both free in their own domain and yet not foreign to each other and hoped that that conference would address the  two modes of  development presented by Pope John Paul II: the horizontal, the world of science and the vertical the world of faith.

The inaugural ceremony ended with the vote of thanks given by the  convenor, Rev. Dr. Victor Ferrao.

 

The Key Note Address

Speaker : Rev. Dr. Job Kozhamthadam, the founder Director of Indian Institute of Science and Religion, Pune

Moderator: Rev.Fr.  Mousinho de Ataide, Rachol Seminary

Rev. Dr. Job. Kozhamthadam set the tone for the conference and brought to light the crucial role of   Catholicism  in conversation with science. He pointed out that science and faith dialogue within the Catholic Church has a long and complex relationship.  The pattern of this relationship through time has been one of encouragement, estrangement and engagement. He  succinctly  demonstrated that the  partnership and engagement  with science promises a rich harvest  in the church. He pointed out that  theology has the noble task of integration of science with our faith and added that the apparent challenges are only opportunities  to grow in the understanding and the practice of our faith.  He declared that we needed more seminars on science and faith  as well as encouragement for the study of science among priests and the religious.

 

Session I:

 

 

Hermeneutical Principals Governing Science and Religion.

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Keith de Souza, SJ, St. Pius College, Mumbai.

Moderator : Rev. Fr. Agnelo Pinheiro, Rachol Seminary.

Rev. Dr. D’ Souza explained that the world, viewed as a text, can be understood through two lenses- science and religion. He said that it was crucial to foster the development of the skills of critical hermeneutics to unveil the  concepts, terms and systems which are embedded within our socio-cultural forms of life experience. These hermeneutical skills he said would  help us to understand science  and would  assist us to  recode them with the help of a religious lens. He further pointed out that the empirical facts of science could be enriched by the deep insights of religion (unity, duty to God and extended community, mystery) to promote a necessary “cosmo/theo/andric” harmony. 

Session II:

 The Scientific and Theological Enterprises of Galileo Galilei: A Life in the Pursuit of Truth Through Both Reason and Faith

Speaker:  Rev. Dr Mathew Chandrankunnel, CMI,  DVK Banglore.

Moderator: Rev. Fr Kyriel D’Souza, SFX, Provincial of the Pilar Fathers in Goa. 

Dr. Chandrankunnel  stated that Galileo founder of modern science, confirmed theories of Copernicus and began dismantling the belief that the sun revolved around the earth. -His research was in conversation with Jesuit scientists at the Roman College, but discoveries conflicted with literal interpretations of the Bible and supporters of Aristotelian philosophy. He said that the Galileo Episode continued to be  viewed as an example of a paradigm of conflict between science and religion.  But added that that position was being revised as new research on the issue exposed  that there were several other factors that led to the condemnation of Galileo.  


 

Day Two: 18 December, 2010

 

 

The second day raised the chief questions of faith. It revolved around the origin and destiny of the universe and the origin and destiny of life and human life in particular. A prayer dance, five sessions and the reports of the group discussion marked the schedule of the day.

Initial Prayer: Prayer Dance by the Materdei Sisters

Session I:

Acoustics of Worship in the Churches of Goa

Speaker : Rev. Fr. Allan Tavares, SFX

Moderator : Rev. Fr. Lino Florindo, SFX, Pilar Theological College

 Basing on his experimental findings, Rev. Fr. Tavares pointed out that the modern liturgical worship spaces  have acoustically lost their ability to evoke wonder, awe, reverence,  communion and metanoia. He said that the desired acoustic characteristics that optimizes sacred acoustic experience   are: reverberance, loudness, intimacy, envelopment, clarity, directionality, balance and overall impression. He urged the audience  to  pay hid to the science of acoustics while designing new churches and renovating old ones and added that the honoring  of architectural wisdom of sacred acoustic design promoted the process of the Word becoming flesh in our liturgies.


Session II:

 

Contemporary Cosmology in Dialogue with Theology

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Victor Ferrao, Rachol Seminary.

Moderator: Dr. Orla Hazra, Eco-theologian, Mumbai.

Dr. Victor Ferrao stated that our  emerging geographical  understanding of ourselves within an open expanding 13.7 billion years Cosmos was preceded by a narrow, reductionist and highly static  geocentric and heliocentric cosmology. He clarified that the operational understandings of the universe and the concept of God have also changed—from a pre-mechanistic/mythological view, then to a mechanistic closed and clockwork universe, to an open and dynamic ongoing self-organizing universe. He said that the evolutionary dynamism and interrelatedness of the Cosmos decentered a spectator and detached God to a  involving God of love in communion  with his creation. He further pointed out that  though the contemporary cosmology used the terminology of theology like creation out nothing, omega point etc., it has deconstructed it and did not use it in the same sense of theology. Yet he optimistically opined that it remained open to dialogue with catholic theology of creation..


Session III

The End of the Universe and Destiny of Humanity: Scientific Eschatology and Questions for Theology

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Kuruvilla Pandikattu, SJ. JDV Pune

Moderator:  Rev Fr. Francis Caldera,  Archdiocesan Communication Center.

Rev. Dr.  Pandikattu, SJ discussed eschatology in terms of the end of the universe in relation to destiny of the humans, and not in relation to  a more traditional questioning— “what happens after we die”. He indicated  that we have realized , what  Teilhard de Chardin meant when he said that ‘humans are the Universe becoming conscious of itself’.  Knowing our interconnectedness, he said that it was important to raise the question how would our behavior affect the destiny of the Universe? Basing on the fact that our destiny and that of the Earth and Universe is intimately linked he said that some scholars present Extinction, Enhancement and Transhumanism as our options in the future. He ended his discussion by  a profound reflection on the  questions raised by each of the above scenarios for catholic  theology.

 

 

Session IV:

 

 

Neuroscientific Developments: Philosophical and Theological Overview

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Augustne Pamplany, CST, Rector of the Little flower seminary, Kerala

Moderator: Dr. Yvonne Pereira, Goa Medical College.

Dr Augustine Pamplany recalled the immense developments that took place in  our understanding of the brain, beginning with the brain decade of the 1990s. He added that these developments have triggered many debates surrounding our understanding of  our brain,soul, and mind and many have opted to accept a reductionist position that states that humans are only brian driven. It is not that our elusive soul in out  of scientific realm but has taken the center stage of discussion. He further pointed out that we have come to understand the operation of our brain more closely and are able to map an active brain. New research has been undertaken to study mystical states and persons lost in  prayer. Those and other developments  have led to growth of  what  was  called neurothology. He  pointed out that those developments have evolved a  neuro-ethics that had become necessary t

 

 

Session V

 

 

 

God is Deeper than Darwin: John Haught’s Delicate Negotiation between Science and Catholicism

Dr. Craig Baron, St. John’s University  New York

Rev. Fr.  Romeo Monteiro, Rachol Seminary.

Dr. Baron attempted to  reconcile Darwin’s theory with the Catholic tradition. He presented  John Haught’s work as an example of an emerging movement within the field of theology modeling an attempt  of reconciliation of Catholicism and Darwinism. He said that Haught’s understanding of God as the depth dimension opens the road for an effective  theological appropriation of Darwinism  

 

Day Three: 19th Dec 2010

 

 

The third day concentrated on the Moral dimensions of the catholic faith. It being a Sunday the holy Eucharist was made part of the conference. The initial prayer, the holy Eucharist, four sessions and a group discussion marked the schedule of the day.

Initial Prayer: Seminarians of the Pilar Seminary

Session I

The Catholic Church and Science and Technology

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX, Pontifical Council for Culture

Moderator:  Fr. Simon Fenandes, Rachol Seminary.

Rev.  Dr.  Mascarenhas clearly noted that within the Catholic Church faith and science are not opposed to each other.  Each have their origin in God with the task of leading people to God. He said that   humanity must develop integrally along with Creation and not at its expense. We need to be ministers of God to all including the scientists.  He further presented a long review of Vatican documents affirming the positive attitude of the church. He said that the true progress of humanity was  found in the integral human development, and therefore he stressed that scientific development should be accompanied by charity and solidarity, and science and development had to respect the larger than human community of life.


Session II

 

Rising from the Ashes: The Ethical Dilemmas of Ocofertility

Dr Astrid Lobo Gajiwalla, Tissue Bank Tata Memorial Hospital

Moderator Rev. Fr. Donato Rodrigues, Rachol Seminary

 

Dr Astrid said that twenty percent of cancer patients loose fertility following their treatment. She argued that it  presented unique  ethical dilemmas different from other fertility settings. The issue under discussion was ‘the  morality of  the capacity  to procreate being preserved outside the conjugal act through science’. She said   that within the context of Oncofertility   many ethical dilemmas occur for them for both the oncologist, treatment providers, the patient and their families.  She opined that they  range from the consent of minors, costs and risks, preservation of tissue, presence of spouse/written consent, inheritance, disposition of stored gametes embryo’s and gonadal tissue.   She said that there was guidance for the catholic scientists within Dignitas Personae and other documents of the Church on many bioethical questions, but strongly felt that the conversation needs to continue.

 

 

Session III

 

Developments in Genetic Engineering and Christian Response

Speaker: Dr Sarita Nazareth, Goa University

Moderator: Dr. Francis Colaco , Dr Colaco Hospital

 

Dr. Sarita taught that  the ideology behind Genetically engineered (GE) and Genetically Modified (GMO) is applied with the intention of making an organism better. She stated that Biotechnology was applied in four major areas: medical and health care, agriculture, crop production, industrial environmental and biological weaponry.  She said that although there are positive aspects of GM there is emerging data of a wide range of negative consequences from this intervention.  These include environmental degradation,  monopolized control of the multinational companies,  loss of indigenous  seeds and indigenous farming practices, etc.. she further pointed out that  many farmer suicides could be traced from debts incurred from the industrialization of the farming practice. She said that Ethical issues emerge within all four areas of biotechnology and emphatically stated that ‘ What is technically possible is not necessarily morally admissible’.

 

 

Session IV

 

As the World Turns: Catholicism and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Speaker: Dr May A. Weber, St. Johns University New York

Moderator : Dr Silvano Sapeco, Goa Medical College.

The potential of stem cell research to alleviate human suffering has led the moral philosophers and theologians in the Church to attempt a reconciliation and to support research. Stem cell research remains ethically problematic even though the Church has endorsed only particular applications.  Stem cell research alters the human trajectory of a cosmic plan unknown to us. Dr May left the audience with a question- Is death a failure or something that requires human intervention from being part of a cosmic pattern?  The discussion that followed defended the catholic position on stem cell research that does not involve the destruction of embryos as well as artificial creation of embryos for the said purpose.  

Day Four: 20th Dec 2010

The last day chiefly focused the future of the dialogue of Science and Catholicism and called the participants to deepen their experience of dialogue of science and faith. The initial prayer,  three sessions, the reports of the group discussion, the open session and the closing ceremony marked the schedule of the day.

Initial Prayer: Seminarians from the Dominican Seminary

Session One

Metaphysics and Global Development: In Search of a Common Ground in a Globalized Economy

Speaker: Rev Dr Basilio Monteiro, St. John’s University New York,

Moderator: Dr Alphonso Botelho, Rosary College, Navelim, Goa

The concept of “development” was analyzed by Rev. Dr. Monteiro contrasting that of the West (through material progress and growth) with that of the East.  The Buddhist ideal of development of the integrated   human being within a cosmic pattern was highlighted in particular as one representing the East. He called the enlightened audience to work to develop the capacity of all citizens to recognize the value of life in harmony  with the environment and challenge all models of development that disturb that harmony.  

Session II

Bernard Lonergan’s Approach to Religious Value in a Pluralistic Age

Speaker: Dr. Chae Young Kim, Songang University, Seoul.

Moderator: Rev. Sr. Nina Lopes, Pilar Sister

Dr Kim offered to expose the scholarship of  Bernard Lonnergan, SJ and  helped the audience to understand the dynamism of human knowing. He presented the Lonnergan’s model of affective knowing/understanding as a movement of conscious awareness- sensate, experiencing, understanding and  judging . Speaking on the  last day, he pointed out that conference has taken many to a experiential level and it is for the enlightened audience to  lift them up to the level of understanding and strive to reach the level of  judgment.

 

Session IV

A New Emerging Research Strategy

Speaker: Dr Gennaro Auletta, Gregorian University, Rome

Moderator: Rev  Fr. Roland Salema, Pastoral Institute, Old Goa.

Dr. Gennaro stated that it was crucial  it was crucial to review our ways of research in the light of the new understanding of the universe.  He said that our views of the world were affecting the concept of research strategy and methodology. Previously, research was through mechanical descriptions which were too  narrow. He pointed out that self-organizability, synergy  in chaos and complexity are moving us towards a more holistic research strategy. He said that these developments were  relevant to philosophy and theology. He optimistically saw its importance to  India because of its cultural ability to grapple with complexity and diversity.

Session V

Open Session

Moderator Dr. Simon Deniz, Rosary College, Navelim. Goa.

The participants were requested to put any question or issue related to the theme of the conference that they needed clarification and discussion in a question box. The questions from the question box were then  taken up along with other questions raised by the participants and were  answered in an open session by a panel of experts that comprised of Dr. Theodore Mascarenahas, Dr. Job Kozhamthadam, Dr. Kuruvilla Pandikattu, Dr. Basilio Monteiro, Dr. Victor Ferrao and Fr. Donato Rodrigues . It was effectively moderated by Rev. Dr. Simon Deniz, Principal of Rosary College

Summary Report of the Group Discussion

Question: What in your view should be the relationship between modern Science and Catholicism?

Participants of the conference affirmed that the discussion should be one of acceptance and openness, dialogue in a mutual and complementary relationship. There ought to be an openess to different interpretations of Biblical texts and clarified by Science. Those engaging the dialogue must acknowledge the limitations of each lens (science or religion) and concentrate on what unites each field. The laity should be included and are a crucial component within the dialogue.

 

Question: How could the church in India and Goa contribute to the faith-science dialogue?

 

 

Conference participants called for future seminars in the seminary, parishes, youth meetings, community groups and for science to be embedded within the catechism. Priests and nuns should be given extensive exposure to scientific  concepts, who then can promote them in their  educational institutions.  More events should be planned through institutions like Science Religion Sangam, Goa (SRS) Indian Institute of Science and Religion Pune (IISR), and Institute of Science and Religion in Kerala (ISR) and an association of scientists and church personnel should be formed.  Interreligious dialogue should also be enfused with the language and insights from science. Homilies that are relevant to the co-relation of science and Catholicism should be developed to present its relevance to our daily lives and practice. The use of the fine arts as models of education regarding science was also encouraged.

 

 

The Closing Ceremony

 

 Rev Dr Anthony Da Silva, the provincial of the Jesuits in Goa was the chief guest at the closing ceremony. Along with the chief guest ,  Rev. Dr. Theodore Mascarenas, Rev. Fr. Rector Denis Ferandes  and Rev. Dr. Victor Ferrao were at the dais for the ultimate session. Dr. Orla Hazra in collaboration with Semnarians. Marcelin Rodrigues , Gail Ferrao and  Heston Ferrao presented a summary of the proceedings to entire seminar. 

In his address Dr. DaSilva underlined the academic  value of the conference for the Church in Goa and called for a continuation of the culture of academic excellence in the seminary. He further emphasized the importance of conversation with science and demonstrated with the example of Fr. Mateo Ricci in china how it can become the means of evangelization. He  called the seminarians and the Catholics assembled to understand the mediatory value of science in our mission to the non-Christians in our country.  

 

Next , Dr. Victor Ferrao invited the audience  to give their feed-back and evaluation of the conference. Several scholars present endorsed the conference and praised the organizers for the conference and called for a continuation of  dialogue with Science. Dr. DaSilva then gave away the certificates of participation.  Finally,   Fr. Donato  Rodrigues conveyed the Christmas Greetings to every one  gathered and Deacon Dylon D’costa proposed the vote of thanks and the curtains came down with the singing of the seminary anthem.

 

 

Dr. Victor Ferrao

 

Convenor

Golden Verse

1Korintkarank 7:38

Mhonnttôch aplê ankvar hoklê lagim logn zata to borem korta; ani logn zaina to odik borem korta.