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Pope tells medical faculty: restore role of faith in research

CWN - May 03, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI visited Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on May 3, to join in 50th-anniversary celebrations for the hospital’s teaching faculty. In his remarks there the Pontiff spoke of the urgent need to restore a healthy relationship between science and faith.

The divorce between faith and reason, and the loss of Europe’s Christian cultural heritage, have caused a “weakening of thought and ethical impoverishment,” the Pope said. Particularly in the field of medicine, he said, the result is “a dangerous imbalance between what is technically possible and what is morally good.” He said that institutions like the Gemelli—which is affiliated with the Sacred Heart Catholic University—should work to restore the proper balance.

To do that, the Pope continued, would entail rediscovering “the wellspring that scientific research shares with the search for faith.” He explained:

Science and faith possess a fruitful reciprocity, almost a complementary need to understand reality. But paradoxically, it is the positivist culture, in its exclusion of the question about God from the scientific debate, that is determining the decline of thought and the weakening of the capacity of intelligence for what is real.

Faith can inspire scientific research, the Pope said. In the field of medical research particularly, Christian faith enables doctors to perceive “the face of Christ in the suffering,” and to understand the needs of the human person in a way that “no study is capable of grasping.”

The Pope concluded his talk by expressing his prayerful affection for the Gemelli Hospital, its patients, and its staff. The Gemelli has close historic ties with the papacy; the hospital has rooms set aside for the Roman Pontiff whenever he needs medical treatment.

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