Friday, October 2, 2009

The Pope in Vatican Observatory

Here's a short video clip of Pope Benedict XVI visiting the new premises of the Specola Vaticana, the Vatican Observatory, on September 16. See him welcomed by the Jesuit Superior General Fr. Adolfo Nicolas (former profesor at Sophia University), Jesuit Fr José Gabriel Funes, the Director of Vatican Observatory, and Jesuit Brother Guy J. Consolmagno (He is the one with a beard!). Fr. Funes and Br. Consolmagno are both highly qualified scientists.

Br. Consolmagno, S.J. was at Sophia last year, when he came to Japan to attend a conference on meteorites. After his B.A. & M.A. at MIT, he obtained a Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona. He did further research and taught at Harvard College Observatory and MIT, then worked as a US Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. He joined the Jesuits in 1989, preferring to be a 'Brother' (i.e., to be a member of the Society of Jesus without being ordained a 'Priest'). He has been at the Vatican Observatory almost since he began his Jesuit life. He is an author of several books--both scientific and religious--and he writes regularly for many journals and periodicals (including The Tablet). See a short list of his books by clicking here.

Gonsolmagno, Photo from his site.
Fr. Funes, S.J. is another scientist of note, having received his Master's degree in Astronomy from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina and a doctorate from the University of Padua in Italy. He has also a bachelor's degree in philosophy from University del Salvador in Argentina. He taught astrophysics at an American university before being appointed Director of the Vatican Observatory, in place of another Jesuit scientist Fr. George Coyne. Fr. Funes was in the news last year when he suggested that the existence of ETs cannot be ruled out. "Vatican astronomer cites possibility of extraterrestrial 'brothers'," wrote The New York Times, introducing Fr. Funes' remarks.

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