20 December 1931
The Conquests of Modern Science Demonstrate
the Harmony Between Science and Faith
Address to Inaugurate the Academic Year of the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences ‘New Lynxes’
Pius XI observes that the Vatican radio station is at the service of science and emphasises the harmony that exists between science and faith, as is demonstrated by every new conquest of science. He speaks out against those who assert the contrary.
He wished to say a few words before the asked-for blessings which he would with all his heart bestow: a word of gratitude to thank the Academy, the Academic Council and its high interpreter for feelings that were so highly and nobly pious and filial; a word of pleasure at all that he had heard: the gratitude, therefore, of the Father who feels that he is loved in such a filial fashion, the pleasure of the Father who sees himself so highly honoured in the honour of his sons who well deserved on the work carried out last year triple congratulations after the triple blessing, because of all the abundant flowers and fruits gathered in the field of science.
His congratulations were increased by a very special and profound note in referring to the initiative of his, and their, journal, Nuncius Radiophonicus. It had been received everywhere with great favour – His Holiness had received by no means few testimonies to this effect – and this had caused special joy because it represented in a certain true way the application and the employment of his radio station at the service of science, after the radio itself had so well, so perfectly and in all regards, served the word of the Faith. The harmony which existed between science, faith, and religion thus really seemed evident to His Holiness and seemed increasingly true and great, that is to say truth and charity, a harmony which with every new conquest of science was increasingly more luminously demonstrated. Whereas, instead, it happened that reference was made to presumed contrasts between faith and science, or one made science say that which science does not say, or one made faith say that which faith did not teach.
The Holy Father then wanted to repeat, to renew his felicitations to Prof. Enriques, who worthily had won and received the prize of his Academy. The membership of that Professor of the University of Padua made the August Pontiff think also that the saint of Padua, during his centenary year, was associated in a certain way with the triumphs of science and science gave to him its tribute. A tribute that was worthily deserved because the great performer of miracles in addition to being, as was known, the saint of affectionate intimacy with the Divine Infant, who was already smiling in his imminent Christmas return, in addition to being the saint of miracles, that is to say really of the impossible, was also a real illustration of science.
This was demonstrated by his manuscripts which were so copious that they had greatly attracted the attention and the work of scholars; this was demonstrated by his great and prodigious eloquence which made it said of him while he was still alive: if every trace of the divine books were lost, Father Antony would be enough to keep them for everyone so great and truly phenomenal was his memory. And everyone knows of what wonders of holiness and science his life was made up, a life completely lived for God within a very great geographical vastness, from Lisbon to Padua.
The Holy Father wanted then to add another reflection, indeed a triple observation. The first of these concerned his own person. That day he had also had the joy of celebrating – and to him had come participations of joy from all parts of the world – the fifty-second anniversary of his priestly ordination: he was very happy to close that blessed date with his very dear sons.
Equally, on that day there was another coincidence. In the liturgy the eighth day of a festive date was none other than a prolongation of the date itself: now on that day fell the eighth day of the thirtieth anniversary of when for the first time – His Holiness said – his glorious Marconi sent the first decisive and so beneficial ‘s’ across the ocean. The Holy Father said that he was very happy to celebrate that date again with his Academicians at a meeting where only the physical presence (which would have been a crown of joyfulness and glory) of Guglielmo Marconi was absent, who nonetheless was there, in that elect assembly, with his mind and his heart, to evoke a memorable date not only for science but also for mankind.
The third observation of the Holy Father was drawn from the circumstance of the nearness of the holy Christmas festivities, the time of Christian good wishes. His Holiness greatly wanted to express them to his most dear sons, expressing his best wishes for an increasing diffusion of all the immanent good in their hearts, and hoping that the new scientific academic year would rival in a happy and fortunate emulation the years past, with marked results and fruits, corresponding to the triple satisfaction of that very fine day.
The August Pontiff then finally came to the imparting of the asked-for blessings which he wanted specifically to join with his best wishes for the holy festivities, praying to the Divine King of glory, of redemption, of truth, the King, therefore, of science, to accompany them with His divine graces.
The paternal Blessing was extended, in addition, to the persons of those present and their dear ones, to their work, to their aspirations in life and their goodness, to everything that they had brought in their thoughts and their heart, so that it could be blessed.