Pope John Paul II, a former philosophy professor, told a thousand Polish academics and scientists gathered in a lecture hall at Copernicus University that religious faith deprived of reason "runs the risk of no longer being a universal proposition".
    The pope explained the argument in his most recent encyclical, Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) in which he defended Copernicus. Copernicus' "On the Movement of Heavenly Bodies" was denounced by the Vatican in 1616 and removed from the Vatican's index of forbidden books only in 1822.
    "Although Copernicus himself saw his discovery as giving rise to even greater amazement at the Creator of the world and the power of human reason," the pope said, "many people took it as a means of setting reason against faith."
    It was the pope's first opportunity to explain his encyclical, published in October, to some of the scholars he trusts the most. He argues that modern philosophy has lost its grounding in human values and the quest for spiritual truth, and urged his fellow Poles to teach their students to seek hope, not "nihilism."
    NYT 1:07pm 9/6/99

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