just yet, says the Vatican's top astronomer!
director of the Vatican Observatory dismissed talk of a Mayan doomsday on Dec.
21, 2012, saying that the end of the Earth, if it happens, is billions of years
while the idea that Earth could be shattered into a billion pieces by some sort
of interplanetary cataclysm has worried millions of people around the world,
the Holy See's chief astronomer suggests that life as we know it is unlikely to
come to an end quite so soon.
an editorial in the Vatican's official daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano –
in an issue whose front-page article was entitled “The end is not nigh – at
least for now” – Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the director of the Vatican
Observatory, criticized "pseudo-prophecies" about the end of the
the media and on the internet there is a great deal of talk of the end of the
world, which the Mayan calendar supposedly predicted for Dec 21. If you do a
search on Google, you get 40 million results on the topic,” wrote Father Funes,
a Jesuit priest from Argentina.
5,125-year cycle known in the Mayan calendar as the Long Count comes to an end
on Friday and has been widely interpreted by cultists, New Age disciples, and
believers in the esoteric as heralding the destruction of the planet.
in a lengthy discourse on astronomy and Christian belief, he said it was “not
even worth discussing the scientific basis of these claims."
acknowledged that the universe was slowly expanding, but that the destruction
of the Earth – if it ever happens – will not occur for billions of years.
any case, he said, Christians subscribe to the “fundamental conviction that
death is not the last word.”
hundred years after the Roman Catholic Church put Galileo on trial for heresy
based on his belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun and not the other
way round, the Vatican is rather more forgiving of the science of astronomy.
observatory is at Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the pope, which lies
in the hills outside Rome. One of the oldest astronomical research institutes
in the world, it also has a research facility hosted by the Steward Observatory
at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
who has a master’s degree in astronomy from the National University of Cordoba
in Argentina as well as degrees in philosophy and theology, was made director
of the observatory in 2006.
has not been reluctant to take modern science into account when considering
religious tenets. In an interview in 2008, he said it was possible that
intelligent forms of life could exist on other planets in the solar system.
would still be God’s creatures, he said, in an article in L’Osservatore Romano headlined "The extraterrestrial is my
brother." The notion did not necessarily contradict the teachings of the
Catholic Church, he said, arguing that to dismiss the possibility of alien life
would be to underestimate God’s creative powers.
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