December 5, 2022

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Faith and Science in the Book of Dialogue between Pope Benedict XVI and the mathematician Odifreddi

On the way to the search for the truth was shown in Rome, which collects letters and the story of the encounters between the Pope emeritus and the Italian scholar. A journey between ethics, anthropology and spirituality

Michel Raviart – Vatican

The Pope emeritus wrote in a passage from the volume, “I am glad that you are interested in God and Jesus” in the search for truth. Letters and Conversations with Benedict XVI” by Bergiorgio O’Deverdi, an atheist mathematician, collecting correspondence and reports on the five meetings between the two, which have taken place since the abdication of the papacy in 2013 to 2020.

A sign of interest in dialogue

The book, published by Rizzoli and presented this afternoon at Lomasa University, is a journey through faith, science, ethics and anthropology, a guide to how dialogue can be made between different situations when not in opposition, and the testimony of some of the topics that have occupied Pope Emeritus Reflections since 2013. “It’s very important,” he assures Vatican News Father Federico LombardiPresident of the Ratzinger Foundation, and co-organizer of the presentation, “that Benedict XVI, at a time when he had ceased to be pope and thus had more time to think, took Odifreddi’s request to enter into dialogue with him very seriously. This is a sign of his interest in the dialogue between faith and reason. and science, and the very useful and open attitude he has always lived in.”

Listen to the full interview with Father Federico Lombardi

Birth of a friendship

In 2011, Odifreddi wrote an open letter to Benedict XVI commenting on “Introduction to Christianity,” a historical volume written by Joseph Ratzinger as a theologian in 1968. The first attempt to get an answer failed until 2013 when, after abdication and through a secretary was sent Pope Emeritus Georges Gansweyn, who also attended the presentation of the book, Benedict XVI in turn sent a letter, which made way for the friendship between the two. A “beautiful friendship” is a “rare dimension” between two different situations “in which there is dialogue and no quarrel,” where “ideas meet and the opponent is not demonized,” explained Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy. life. “I think that’s what teaching can be like,” he explains Bergiorgio Oudefredithat if the pope and the atheist can rest easily while speaking in a friendly manner, it means that perhaps in life one can also act like this.”

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Listen to the full interview with Piergiorgio Odifreddi

Proximity in mourning

What is surprising in the evolution of congruence between the two is the evolution of the subjects. At first, the comparison was between science and faith, as Odfredi asserts, then with the passage of time “it was pointless to continue ‘skirmishes’ over these issues,” and we moved on to other topics, such as logic, life and death. Specifically, there was the closest meeting point between the two on the topic of death. Pope Emeritus had asked O’Devrede for an atheist opinion on death and the mathematician wrote a letter which he himself defined as a “theorem”. Then in 2020, the year of the epidemic, both George Ratzinger, Benedetto’s beloved brother, and Odefrieddi’s mother both died. “It was the closest moment,” he explained, “when two people go through the same pain of losing their loved ones.”