|Statement of Mission
The conflicts which, at times, arose from undue influences of religious authorities on the development of scientific knowledge do not derive from the nature of reason and belief and, moreover, they now belong to the past. Should they again arise, a dialogue should be set up which is unprejudiced by undue passions. . . . Such a dialogue should, above all, try to clarify the problems in question and to discover a possible convergence of the various truths involved.
When knowledge leads to the highest realities and, starting from them, tries to investigate all other domains of being, knowledge becomes wisdom.
Pope John Paul II, "Address to the World of Culture at Fribourg University," June 13, 1984
The Committee on Science and Human Values promotes, initiates and engages in ongoing dialogue and other cooperative efforts with the U.S. scientific community. Collaboration permits religion and science to preserve their proper autonomy, which flows from their distinctive goals, methods and reasons for being. At the same time, collaboration recognizes that the two disciplines probe the same reality.
Neither the Catholic nor the scientific communities should be uncomfortable in the presence of the other, since both have insights to share on the great philosophical and practical questions of our time. The Church must know and respond to the spirit of scientific humanism in contemporary U.S. culture, and must bring Catholic moral values to bear on issues to which advances in science and technology give rise.
The Committee achieves its purpose by establishing and maintaining dialogue groups concerned with issues of philosophical and pastoral interest. The Committee currently conducts annual dialogues in which bishops and scientists, with the assistance of philosophers and theologians, explore the relevance of advances in science and technology for Catholic teaching. Recent dialogue topics have included global population (1993 and 1994); genetic testing (1995); genetic screening (1996); death and dying (1997); cloning (1998); stem cell research (1999); genetic modification in plants (2000); evolution (2001 and 2002); and genetic enhancement (2003).
The Committee believes that the episcopal conference as a whole needs to bring scientific thinking and scientific conclusions into its decision-making processes. To this end, it strives to keep the bishops informed on subjects of intellectual and/or pastoral interest, sponsoring workshops on cosmology (1996), genetics (1996), evolution (1997), and stem cell research (1999).
The Committee has issued a series of publications, including Science and the Catholic Church (1995), Critical Choices: Genetic Testing and Its Implications (1996), The Promise and Peril of Genetic Screening (1997) and The Manner of Our Dying (1998). In addition, the Committee has issued a report to the bishops on cloning and will do so on several other dialogue topics in the near future.