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Vatican calls together astrophysicists to explore mysteries of universe

by Premier Journalist

A group of renowned physicists are set to gather at the Vatican Observatory near Rome next week to discuss the untold mysteries of the universe.

The academic cohort, which includes two Nobel Prize winners, will come together to honor the legacy of Georges Lemaitre, the priest who was the first person to formulate the modern Big Bang theory. 

"We think we have put together a dream team that we vehemently hope will lead to some innovative thinking," said Fabio Scardigli, a theoretical physicist from the Polytechnic Institute of Milan, as reported by the National Catholic Register

The workshop, which will run from 16th - 21st June, will assemble those who study cosmology and the theory of relativity, along with physicists and experts in quantum theory. The aim is to foster dialogue between those holding differing theoretical views on some of the most profound questions about the universe.

One of the subjects the group will tackle is the expansion of the universe and the mystery of black holes - an area of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it. 

Participants are due to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on 19th June, and organisers are hoping the Pontiff will deliver some remarks. 

Contrary to popular opinion, the Catholic Church has actually played a crucial role in the field of physics throughout history.

"I was a scientist for 20 years before I joined the Jesuits, and the most common reaction from fellow scientists was a freedom from them to tell me about the churches they belong to," said Brother Guy Consolmagno, the director of the Vatican Observatory.

"In the field of cosmology, where we are so much aware of what we do not know, there is an openness to reflect on why there is something instead of nothing."

Consolmagno added that "in the academic world you find more atheists in the literature department than among physicists".

Quoting St. John Paul II, Consolmagno described the importance of marrying up faith and reason as a way of reaching towards the truth. "Truth is the goal," he said, "and for those of us who believe that God is the truth, exploring the truth leads us closer to God." 

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