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Interview with Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti in Nature Magazine

Interview with Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti in Nature Magazine

In a box in the journal Nature (vol. 432, 9 December 2004, p. 669), Quirin Schiermeier reports the answers of CRYF member Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti on the Pope's attitude to science today and the challenges it represents for the Church in the future.

We translate below the three most significant paragraphs of this box, where Tanzella-Nitti's comments are included:

Pope John Paul II has shown a B interest in science since he assumed the position as head of the Catholic Church in 1978. "Scientists who have met him have always felt that they were dealing with a person genuinely interested in their work and sincerely eager to learn from them," says Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti, an astrophysicist at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

"I remember the young Pope just a few years after his election sitting among a small group group of scientists on a terrace of his private residency program in Castelgandolfo, taking notes on contemporary cosmology," says Tanzella-Nitti. Located above residency program is an astronomical observatory which, along with a telescope in Arizona, is funded by the Vatican to the tune of a whopping US$1 million a year.

The possibility of extraterrestrial life and intelligence, and the implications of cosmology for Christian ideas about the beginning and end of time, will be the next challenges for scientifically minded theologians, says Tanzella-Nitti. The Catholic Church, for its part, should be well prepared.