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Non-Catholic named head of pontifical academy

January 18, 2011

Pope Benedict has named Werner Arber, an 81-year-old professor emeritus of microbiology at the University of Basel, as president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Arber, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1978, has been a member of the pontifical academy since 1981.

“The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is an independent entity within the Holy See,” its web site explains. “Although its rebirth [in 1936] was the result of papal initiative, and though it is placed under the direct protection of the reigning Supreme Pontiff, the academy defines its own goals with regard to its statuted aim: ‘ promote the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences and the study of epistemological problems relating thereto.’”


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