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Religion meets science in forum at WCC

Religion meets science in forum at WCC

Fr Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC deputy general secretary welcoming Mgr Prof. Dr phil. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences. ©WCC

09 August 2017

A delegation that included Msgr Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, physicists from the research institute CERN, and theologians visited the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva in late July for a lively discussion on climate change and its inextricable ties to justice.

In an interview with WCC Communication, Sorondo said climate change is caused by human activity, particularly fossil fuels. “Climate change has a stronger impact on the most vulnerable countries and people,” he said. “The role of world leaders today, religious and lay persons, in all different levels of our societies, is to have a clearer conscience about their responsibility for the global situation.”

Religion has the biblical mandate that humankind has the custody of creation, he continued. “But the ones who know better the current conditions of creation are not the religious ones, but the scientific community,” he said. “They have the instruments that allows us to see the real situation of creation.”

This, in turn, leads religion to take a moral stand towards creation, he said: “Scientists realized that they cannot reach out to people without help from religion. Science used to look at religion as traditional knowledge, but it slowly realized that religion has deep intuitions, which are also knowledge.”

Sorondo also spoke of human trafficking as a modern form of slavery, and urged a renewed commitment to eradicate it.

An Argentinian, Sorondo has been an outspoken advocate for walking a path of eco-justice as a way toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He has also spoken strongly against human trafficking, and visited Baton Rouge, Louisiana (USA) in May to dedicate a shelter - one of the first of its kind - for young victims of human trafficking.

At the WCC forum, the group also addressed climate change on a personal level, noting the complexity of being a person of faith and a scientist. Particle physicist Ugo Amaldi, director of the TERA Foundation, identified himself as a scientist who believes that the universe has been made by a loving God.

“When you are a scientist who is a believer, how can you reconcile these two points?” he asked. “That takes time and effort - and this is the totality of being.”

WCC representatives offered a description of their work related to justice, sustainability and climate change. The group also shared prayers and lunch, hosted by Forum Engelberg, together, continuing to build on thoughts that emerged during the forum.

A special interview covering the intersection of science and religion will be published by WCC Communication in late September.


WCC's work on care for creation and climate justice

JWG with the Roman Catholic Church

Minute on Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling

Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery, 2 December 2014