WelCom April 2018: British Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, a Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, died in Cambridge, 14 March 2018, at 76.
Hawking was an esteemed member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
St John Paul II named Hawking a member of the Academy in 1986. Its members are chosen on the basis of their academic credentials and professional expertise, not religious beliefs.
Hawking asserted that God had no role in creating the universe. Yet his atheism did not keep him from engaging in dialogue and debate with the Church.
He was decorated by the Academy with the Pius XI medal for his studies on ‘black holes’ on April 19, 1975.
The famous scientist met Pope Francis on November 28, 2016, during the Academy’s Plenary Session.
Hawking also met three other Popes: Paul VI, on April 9, 1975, John Paul II on October 3, 1981, and Benedict XVI on October 31, 2008.
The Vatican says the theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author helped foster a ‘fruitful dialogue’ between science and faith.
‘We are deeply saddened about the passing of our remarkable Academician Stephen Hawking who was so faithful to our Academy,’ tweeted the Pontifical Academy of Science.
‘Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up,’ said the chair-ridden theoretical physicist and cosmologist, who struggled for decades with motor neuron disease, which was diagnosed at the age of 21.