The Vatican has announced a number of initiatives to celebrate the UN year of Astronomy. Archbishop Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture told a press conference yesterday that the United Nations decided to make 2009 the "year of astronomy" in order "to commemorate 400 years since the first astronomic discoveries".
The event gives pride of place to Galileo, he said. He said: "the Church wishes to honour the figure of Galileo, innovative genius and son of the Church... the time is now ripe for a fresh consideration of the figure of Galileo and of the entire Galileo case". Archbishop Ravasi announced that an international academic congress will be held in Florence from 26 to 30 May on the theme: "Galileo Galilei: A new historical, philosophical and theological reading". Organised by the Jesuit-run Stensen Institute of Florence, the congress is being promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Vatican Observatory. It will be attended by world experts on the subject (theologians, historians and philosophers) such as George Coyne, Evandro Agazzi, Nicola Cabibbo and Annibale Fantoli.
From 15 October 2009 to 15 January 2010 the Vatican Museums will host an exhibition entitled: "Astrum 2009: the historical legacy of Italian astronomy from Galileo to today", dedicated to the historical material held by astronomical observatories in Italy and the Vatican. The exhibition is being organised by the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in collaboration with the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Observatory. Archbishop Ravsi said an international congress will be held in November on the theme: "1609-2009.
From the birth of astrophysics to evolutionary cosmology. Science, philosophy and theology", organised by Rome's Pontifical Lateran University.
The Vatican Secret Archives are also planning to produce a new edition of all the documents from the trial of Galileo Galilei, due to be published before the end of this year. The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture concluded his remarks by announcing a new project being promoted by the Italian Church through the internet site www.disf.org (Interdisciplinary Documentation of Science and Faith). He said: "It will dedicate particular attention to the year of astronomy, publishing documents, text and ideas every month, so as to give a Christian orientation to the debate between science and faith".
VATICAN CITY - 30 January 2009 - 380 words
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