Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who said he did not believe in God, was an esteemed member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and fostered a fruitful dialogue between science and faith. Source: The Tablet.
The British-born theoretical physicist, cosmologist and popular author died yesterday at the age of 76. Church leaders expressed sadness at his death through Twitter yesterday.
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which Pope Pius IX established in 1847, tweeted, “We are deeply saddened about the passing of our remarkable Academician Stephen #Hawking who was so faithful to our Academy.”
“He told the four Popes he met that he wanted to advance the relationship between Faith and Scientific Reason. We pray the Lord to welcome him in his Glory,” @CasinaPioIV, the academy, tweeted March 14.
The Vatican observatory, @SpecolaVaticana, also expressed its condolences to Professor Hawking’s family.
“We value the enormous scientific contribution he has made to quantum cosmology and the courage he had in facing illness,” the observatory tweeted in Italian.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster tweeted, “We thank Stephen Hawking for his outstanding contribution to science. As a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science, he will be missed and mourned there, too.”
Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury tweeted: “Professor Stephen Hawking’s contribution to science was as limitless as the universe he devoted his life to understanding. His was a life lived with bravery and passion. As we pray for all those who mourn him, may he rest in peace.
St John Paul II named Professor Hawking a member of the papal academy in 1986. The academy’s members are chosen on the basis of their academic credentials and professional expertise – not religious beliefs.
Blessed Paul, the first of four popes to meet Hawking, gave the then 33-year-old scientist the prestigious Pius XI gold medal in 1975 after a unanimous vote by the academy in recognition of his great work, exceptional promise and “important contribution of his research to scientific progress”.
Professor Hawking had most recently met Pope Francis when he delivered his presentation on “The Origin of the Universe” at the academy’s plenary session on science and sustainability in 2016.
Church leaders praise Stephen Hawking (The Tablet)