Our 2009 EJS Meeting in Braga was a great success. Thanks to everyone who could make it, who participated actively in our work to come up with specific suggestions on the topic of Jesuit formation in Science. On Sunday morning, we developed the following statement which we are sending to Fr. Mark Rostaert, the President of the European Assistancy, to share with the General. We are very grateful to Mark for his participation and sage advice.
“In 2007, the European Jesuits in Science and the Jesuit members of the Vatican Observatory proposed a postulatum that the 35th General Congregation act to “enable and foster an improved broad general education in the natural sciences for all its members…”
“Following his election, Father General Nicolás addressed the Vatican Observatory in 2008, requesting the counsel of Jesuit scientists concerning the incorporation of natural science into the formation of young Jesuits. Meeting in 2009, at the International Congress on Darwin’s Impact on Science, Society, and Culture sponsored by the Faculty of Philosophy at the Catholic University of Portugal in Braga, we have considered the topics that we think are essential knowledge for all Jesuits in formation, and the mode in which these topics could be taught.
“We hope that some Jesuits continue to be formed as scientists, and that young Jesuit scientists are encouraged to pursue their scientific work during their years of formation. However, nowadays the majority of young men entering the Society have a background in humanities, not natural sciences. Thus we must encourage Jesuits to become more knowledgeable in the natural sciences in order to be open to receive the scientific developments of our age. This is particularly important for those who are destined to teach, especially teaching other Jesuits.
“We propose that formation be adapted so that that all Jesuits have a basic understanding of the particular topics of Physics, including the basics of relativity, quantum mechanics, and physical cosmology; and Biology, including genetics and evolution, reproduction, neurosciences, anthropology, and mental and physical health.”
This statement is quite short, at the suggestion of Fr. Rostaert, who noted that a shorter statement is more likely to be read. But we are also following up on his suggestion of preparing a longer statement to accompany this one, explaining in some detail the reasoning behind our proposal. I plan to circulate a draft this statement in the upcoming weeks.