Many meetings of John Paul II with people of science and culture, his engagement in the Papal Science Academy (which involves among the others 20 laureates of the Nobel Prize), establishing the Papal Council for Culture (1982), the Papal Academy of Social Studies (1994) and the Papal Academy of Life (1994), to which prominent scientists from the whole world belong, these are only some evidences of the papal care for science. Today we are asking Saint Pope about the meaning of the teaching in the times of undermining authorities of scientists and also the lack of a moral attitude of some people of science who become (in)dependent experts from everything, what responsibility they have got and what their mission is based on.

Karol Wojtyła perfectly understood scientific groups because he was a man of science. Having gained the PhD at ‘Angelicum’ in Rome, first as a priest Associate Professor, later bishop, archbishop and cardinal, he was managing the Cathedral of Ethics at the Department of Philosophy at the Catholic University of Lublin for nearly a quarter of century. For a long time he had had a function of the chairman of the Scientific Council of the Polish Episcopate. As the metropolitan of Kraków, Cardinal Wojtyła paid much attention to matters of pastoral ministry among employees of science. Having been elected to the Holy See, he was still addressing them, reminding that their mission in the sphere of scientific experiments is important, but, first of all, their attitude towards the youth, forming attitudes of young people. They should use a word and an example to pass knowledge and skills to the young generation. However, knowledge and qualifications are not enough. Among the youth there is still a need for personal examples, that is, teachers and professors, who would become real missionaries and guides for them.

So, it is necessary to give a personal testimony which is based on sharing one’s experience and life wisdom with others. ‘We must educate oneself in order to educate others, we must reach a suitable intellectual and moral level in order to raise minds and form attitudes of the youth’.

John Paul II used to invite the most prominent intellectualists from the whole world to Castel Gandolfo and he used to listen to their talks. In this way, he gave a testimony of his intellectual openness and respect to the world of science. However, he had a critical attitude towards dangers which science was facing. During an audience for rectors of Polish universities he warned: ‘If science is not practiced in the sense of service to the human being, it may easily become an element of economic tenders, with exclusion of the common welfare or, what is worse, may be used in order to rule over others, harnessed into totalitarian desires of individuals and groups.

Science is this good which deserves special love, because it is cognition, that is, ‘greatness of the human intelligence’. It is necessary for humankind because it satisfies righteous needs of life. In order to defend oneself against the interference of the authority, both the political and economic one, science must adhere to wisdom and courage and remain faithful to moral norms which stand on the guard of the human life. In this way science should ‘ally with conscience in order to save the real good of the man to whom it is supposed to serve’.

Scientific work is not only intellectual activity of the man. Every human activity has a spiritual dimension, that is, it absorbs the whole man, his soul and body. Because these two realities are dependent on each other, hence the man is to be the subject of scientific studies. The academic ethos is going towards values which go far beyond the sphere of consumption subordinated to the laws of the market. ‘For, as it is impossible to separate the reason from soul, it is impossible to pass complete knowledge, not considering the needs of the human spirit which is open to infinity’. So, the personal human dignity is this instance in whose light any usage of scientific-technical knowledge should be judged. John Paul II reminded about it to scientific employees on many occasions. These are them who show a path of forming a mature mankind, contribute to freeing a mental and spiritual potential of the man.

The man of science cannot limit himself to gaining only knowledge, or to gaining recognition or profits. Science and academic education are insufficient in order to achieve wisdom. Wise people are both among scientists and among the illiterate. A wise mind is needed for it, as well as a wise heart, able to love everyone. A wise scientist is facing a task of solving difficult problems of the contemporary times, with which people are struggling, so that their life would become ‘more human and more worthy of the man’. So, we need solidarity of sciences in the service to the man and in uncovering fuller truth about him and the world surrounding him.

So, today we need people of science deserving the name of masters and guides who do not create the truth but discover and pass it to others. We need their curiosity, insight in asking questions and, finally, honesty in looking for answers to them.


"Niedziela" 9/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl