John Paul II praises Father Lagrange

Addressing the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the 31st October 1992, the Pope John Paul II compared the crises provoked by the condemnation of Galileo to the one brought on by the rejection of Father Lagrange:

“By virtue of her own mission, the Church has the duty to be attentive to the pastoral consequences of her teaching. May it be clear before everything else: this teaching must correspond to the truth. But it is a matter of knowing how to take into consideration a new scientific “given” when this seems to contradict the truths of the Faith. The pastoral judgement rendered necessary by the theories of Copernicus was a difficult one to make to the extent that egocentrism seemed to be part of the teaching of Scripture itself. It would have been necessary to overcome the habitual ways of thinking and at the same time invent a way of teaching capable of enlightening the People of God. Let us say then, that as a general rule, a Pastor most show himself ready for genuine audacity, in order to avoid the double trap of fearfulness and hasty judgement. Both can do great harm. A crisis analogous to the one we are speaking of can be evoked at this point. At the end of the last century and at the beginning of our own the progress of historical sciences permitted the acquisition of new findings about the Bible and the Biblical milieu. The Rationalist context in which, for the most part, these findings were presented seemed to make them destructive for the Christian Faith. Certain people, concerned with defending the Faith, thought it necessary to reject the historical conclusions that had been established. This was a hasty and unhappy decision. The work of a pioneer like Father Lagrange was to know how to make the necessary discernment on the basis of solid criteria.

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