Sputnikfest 2014


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pope Pius XII, whose Papacy ran from 1939 to 1958, was sometimes called the “Technology Pope” and his enthusiasm for science is well-documented.  Here is a photo of him viewing the night sky through the telescope at the Vatican Observatory (yes, the Vatican has its own Observatory!) on the night Sputnik 1 was launched. 
In 1951 Pope Pius XII issued an Apostolic Brief proclaiming the Archangel Gabriel as Heavenly Patron of Telecommunication, saying “To the wisdom of God, our admiration is due for those many inventions of modern science that make it possible for men to use electricity to communicate with one another at a distance.  Admirable is the Divine Wisdom which empowers them to telegraph their messages to those at a distance; to converse by long distance telephone; to broadcast their information over the ether waves; to transmit by television and make present what is actually happening far away.”  One old definition of “ether” is “the region of space beyond the earth's atmosphere” – and this Papal proclamation appears to be a clear endorsement of satellite technology. 
Brother Guy Consolmagno , Senior Vatican Scientist, Papal Astronomer, and curator of the Papal meteorite collection says “God is bigger than just humanity. God is also the god of angels” and even goes so far to say that said that he would be” delighted if we encountered intelligent aliens and would be happy to baptize them.”
The Roman Catholic Church got its 266th Pope this past week – Pope Francis.  Pope Francis is the first Pope to come out of a Jesuit seminary.  A writer on the Jesuit blog, Catching Fire, notes “Ever notice how science fiction writers who want to portray a religious figure in space tend to pick Jesuits?”  He goes on to point out a particular science fiction novel “The Sparrow” – which has recently been optioned as a mini-series for TV by AMC. 
So - what about it?  With his Jesuit background and the way he has already demonstrated a tendency to break with tradition, why not “The First Pope to Visit Sputnikfest”?  We could even have a special ceremonial hat made up just for the occasion!  Planet Terry

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