Visit to the Institut de France

Visit to the Institut de France

Pope Benedict XVI

Avoid science-soul dichotomy for integral exploration of human and experimental sciences

On Saturday morning, 13 September [2008], the Holy Father was driven from the Apostolic Nunciature to the "Institut de France", representative of all the branches of knowledge and home to five academies. He was met at the entrance reserved for Heads of State by Mr. Gabriel de Broglie, Chancellor of the Institute, and Mrs. Hélène Carrière d'Encausse, Secretary. The Pontiff entered the Hall of the "Coupole", where the members of the five academies had gathered, and was accompanied to the Mausoleum of Cardinal Mazarin for the unveiling of a plaque commemorating his Visit. The following is a translation of the Holy Father's Address for the occasion, delivered in French.

Mr Chancellor,
Dear Permanent Secretaries of the five Académies,
Dear Cardinals,
Dear brothers in the episcopate and the priesthood,
Dear friends from the Académies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

For me it is a very great honour to be received this morning under the Cupola. I thank you for the overwhelming expressions of kindness with which you have welcomed me, and for your gift of the medal. I could not come to Paris without greeting you personally. I am pleased to have this happy opportunity to emphasize my profound links with French culture, for which I have the greatest admiration. In my intellectual journey, contact with French culture has been particularly important. I therefore avail myself of this occasion to express my gratitude to it, both personally and as the successor of Peter. The plaque that we have just unveiled will preserve the memory of our meeting.

As Rabelais rightly asserted in his day, “Science without conscience brings only ruin to the soul!” (Pantagruel, 8). It was doubtless in order to contribute to avoiding the risk of such a dichotomy that, at the end of January of last year, and for the first time in three and a half centuries, two Académies of the Institut, two Pontifical Academies and the Institut Catholique in Paris organized a joint Colloquium on the changing identity of the individual. The Colloquium has illustrated the interest generated by broad interdisciplinary studies. This initiative could be taken further, in order to explore together the countless research possibilities in the human and experimental sciences. This wish is accompanied by my prayers to the Lord for you, for your loved ones and for all the members of the Académies, as well as all the staff of the Institut de France. May God bless you!

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
17 September 2008, page 11

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