Tuesday, 4 November 2008

He's a Spaceman and He's in Surrey

This coming Saturday, 8th November, the parish of Christ the Prince of Peace, Weybridge, Surrey welcomes Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ an astronomer who works for the Vatican Observatory . He will be making a series of presentations to parishioners and others on ‘Finding God in Space’ starting at 11.15am in the parish hall. Anyone is welcome to attend.

It is obviously exciting for the parish to have Guy come and speak to them as Guy, who is a member of the Jesuit order, is amongst other things the curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo near Rome, Italy. His work focuses on the links between asteroids and meteorites, and the origins and evolution of small bodies in the solar system. He believes in the need for science and religion to work alongside one another rather than as competing ideologies.

Castel Gandolfo has been the Headquarters of the Vatican Observatory since 1930s but it was preceded by several earlier Observatories in Rome, the first being in 16th Century. It is one of the oldest continuous astronomical institutes in the world. Since 1981 a sister Observatory has operated in Tucson, Arizona, USA because of the brightening skies over Castel Gandolfo.

Guy is the author of several popular astronomy books including 'Intelligent Life in the Universe? Catholic belief and the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life'. (Catholic Truth Society) as well as the BBC radio series ‘A Brief History of the End of Everything’.

There was also a celebration of another Jesuit recently in Hastings who also saw the links between the cosmos and faith. This was Fr Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ who spent some of his Jesuit training in Hastings, in exile from the French anti-clerical government of the time. A blue plaque (see left) was recently dedicated to him there by the local council and the Teilhard de Chardin Society. His most famous books printed posthumously are perhaps 'The Phenomenon of Man' and 'The Divine Milieu'. His work was and is controversial and some of his theories were condemned by the then Holy Office in 1962. This is still the official Church view, though he was warmly appreciated on the hundredth anniversary of his birth in 1981 in the Vatican Newspaper, Osservatore Romano by Cardinal Casoroli. Indeed some theologians such as Henri de Lubac SJ have written works in support of him. He certainly provokes debate. A very interesting article on him and his theology can, of course, be found on Wikipedia

Praise God in his holy place,
praise him in his might heavens.
Praise him for his powerful deeds,
praise his surpassing greatness.
(Psalm 150)

1 comment:

  1. Name of Weybridge Parish is Christ the Prince of Peace - not Christ the King!!