WASHINGTON — The American Association for the Advancement of Science announced in Science magazine that it has chosen seven seminaries to participate in its “Science for Seminaries” program.
Three of the chosen institutions are Catholic: Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois; Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin; and Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.
The program awards 18-month grants to each selected institution, and the seminaries put the money toward programs which explore the connections between faith and science.
All institutions participating in the program are required to incorporate science into two core courses and hold at least one campus-wide event related to science, but they have wide latitude regarding the science-related activities to which they devote the remainder of the grant money. The institutions have selected a wide variety of fields of science to integrate into the core courses, ranging from cosmology and genetics to neuroscience and psychiatry.
Both the AAAS and the seminaries believe that making future priests more knowledgeable about science will make them better pastors and help them address common misconceptions about the relationship between faith and science.
Statistics from the National Study of Youth and Religion show that 72 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Catholics believe that science and religion conflict, and 78 percent of lapsed Catholics in that age range give this supposed conflict as a reason why they left the church.
The seminaries hope the program can give future priests more knowledge to combat these misconceptions, enabling them to better catechize the laity and prevent people from leaving the church for reasons which lack a basis in either the teaching of the Catholic Church or the claims of scientific knowledge.