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Documents for the 2009 Anniversary: International Year of Astronomy and II Centenary of Darwin’s birth

2009 International Year of Astronomy - Galileo's first observations (1609)

2009 International Year of Astronomy1. The Roman Catholic Magisterium on the Galileo Affair

Pius VII, Decree authorizing the publication of the Heliocentric Astronomy Textbook “Elements of Astronomy” by Giuseppe Settele, after the claim of a stellar parallax measure, made by Giuseppe Calandrelli, Rome, August 16, 1820.

John Paul II, Address to the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, including Pontiff’s hope that “theologians, scholars and historians, animated by a spirit of sincere collaboration, will study the Galileo case more deeply and, in loyal recognition of wrongs from whatever side they come, will dispel the mistrust that still opposes, in many minds, a fruitful concord between science and faith”, Rome, November 10, 1979.

John Paul II, Address to a Group of Researchers and Scientists on occasion of the 350° Anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s Work “The Two Chief World Systems” (1633), Rome, May 9, 1983.

John Paul II, Speech delivered at the Concluding Summary presented by the Commission on the Galileo Affair, Rome, October 31, 1992.


2. Selected readings on the Galileo Affair

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) Letter to Benedetto Castelli (1613)

Galileo Galilei, Letter to Madame Christina of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany (1615)

Robert card. Bellarmino, Letter to Paolo A. Foscarini (1615)

A Commentary to the Contemporary Attitude of Church’s Magisterium toward the Galileo Affair: a reading from Galileo, Decisive Innovator, by M. Sharrat (1994)

The Uses of History in the Galileo Affair: a reading from Reconstructing Nature. The Engagement of Religion and Science, by J.H. Brooke and G. Cantor (1998)


3. Humanistic reflections on astronomy and the observation of the starred sky

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Prayers to God Creator in Harmonices Mundi (Harmonies of the World, 1619)

Robert Boyle (1627-1691), The Astronomical Discoveries and the Copernican Hypothesis manifest the Wisdom of God, from The Christian Virtuoso (1690)

Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), An Umbrian Farmer and the Religious Experience of a Starry Sky

The Concept of Sky/Heaven between Science and Religion (by Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti)


II centenary of Darwin's birth (1809-2009)

Charles Darwin1. Charles R. Darwin on God and Religion: a Selection of Texts

Charles R. Darwin, My Religious Belief, from The Autobiography of C.R. Darwin edited by his grand-daughter Nora Barlow, with the original omissions restored.

A Selection of Darwin’s Letters concerning God’s Existence and the Theory of Evolution (from the texts published on the Darwin Correspondence Project)

The Role of a Creator according to the 1842 Sketch and to the conclusions of The Origin of Species (1859 and 1860)

C.H. Hunter, “Evolution and Theodicy”, a reading from Darwin’s God. Evolution and the Problem of Evil


2. The Magisterium of the Catholic Church and the Origin of Man

Pius XII, On Evolution and Monogenism, from Humani generis, 1950

John Paul II, Address to the Participants to an International Conference on “Christian Faith and Theory of Evolution”, April 26, 1985

John Paul II, Humans are Spiritual and Corporal Beings, from the General Audience Aprile 16, 1986

John Paul II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: “Magisterium Is Concerned with Question of Evolution for It Involves Conception of Man, October 22, 1996

Creation and the Quest on the Origins according to the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (1997)

International Theological Commission, Communion and Stewardship. Human Persons Created in the Image of God (2004), excerpts from nn. 1-5; 62-70

Benedict XVI, Discourse to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Plenary Session on “Scientific Insights into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life”, October 31, 2008


3. Selected Readings on Biological Evolution and Christian Belief

John Henry Newman to J. Walker, on Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, May 22, 1868

Ernest C. Messenger, On the Problem of Man’s Origin (1932)

Steven M. Barr, The Miracle of Evolution (2006)

Avery Dulles, God and Evolution (2007)

John H. Brooke, Christianity and Darwinism: Can There Be No Common Ground? (2008)