VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With a specialized education in both chemistry and theology, Pope Francis is no stranger to the relationship between science and faith.

“Science has its autonomy that must be respected and encouraged,” the future pope said in a recently published book. “There is no reason to meddle with scientists’ autonomy, except when they overstep their field and get into the transcendent.”


Pope Francis discussed the responsibility of science in the book “On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family and the Church in the 21st Century.” The book, published in April by Image Books, a division of Random House, is a conversation between then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka, an Argentine biophysicist and rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary.

In the introduction to the book, the future pope wrote, “Dialogue is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person … it supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view.”

Using creative analogies and personal stories, the future pope offered insight into his viewpoints on science.

He cited God’s command in the book of Genesis, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”

He said humanity received the raw materials of the earth from God in order to build culture — just as a log is made into a table. But, he said, humanity must not lose respect for nature as people subdue it. He warned against the sin of pride, citing abuses of atomic power and destruction that can result when “science does not put limits on itself.”

Science “can lose control of its own creation, just like in the story of Frankenstein,” the future pope said. “When man becomes proud, he creates a monster that can get out of hand.”

The pope also touched on the subject of environmentalism in the homily of his March 19 inaugural Mass, stating, “The vocation of being a ‘protector,’ however, is not just something involving us Christians … It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world.”

“In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it,” he said.