Volume 2 Number 9
To Preserve Creation
01 October 1989

It was not a scene you would have expected at a scientific meeting.

It was not a scene you would have expected at a scientific meeting. A young Swiss nun, immaculate in black and white habit, and a bearded Israeli doctor, casual in slacks and ethnic shirt, stood together under the trees, singing a Hebrew song.

Scientists at the forefront of this century's discoveries were spending an afternoon at a convent where nuns have been praying for hundreds of years. The scientists had come together to look at their work in the perspective of eternal values.

The visit - part of a weekend dialogue at Caux on the Preservation of Creation called by Cardinal Konig - began with a moving, if extracurricular, encounter. The Israeli doctor described what it had meant to him as a Jew to `pray in spirit' with the nuns in their chapel. `It is time to rebuild the bridges between Judaism and its daughter the church,' he said. For him the service had been a 'first step' - a step which Israelis too often felt should be left to the Christians.

`I owe so much to the Jews,' responded the Mother Abbess. `The Christ who is the heart of my life is a Jew.'

Over the weekend young researchers at the start of their careers met with such household names of science as Eduard Kellenberger, father of microbiology in Switzerland, and American nuclear physicist Viktor Weisskopf. Voices from politics and industry, environmental journalism and family action groups threw in a perspective from outside the the laboratory.

Sir James Watt, former President of Britain's Royal Society of Medicine, opened a discussion on scientific ethics; Paul Laufs, Christian Democratic spokesman on ecology in Bonn, launched a dialogue on the tropical forests; Kellenberger introduced the theme of genetic engineering; Jan Doroszewski of Warsaw's Medical Centre of Postgraduate Education offered an Eastern European angle.

`God has put the desire to create into his creature,' said Cardinal Konig in his opening address. `Could it be a key for the future to awaken in each individual the desire to become creative in the preservation of Creation?'

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