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Fr. Paul Mueller, SJ, with Pope Francis
"All of us dwell under the same sky. All of us are moved by the beauty revealed in the cosmos and reflected in the study of the heavenly bodies and substances." — Pope Francis
Jesuit Father Paul Mueller Meets Pope Francis with Vatican Observatory Students

August 29, 2016 — Jesuit Father Paul Mueller, of the Chicago-Detroit Province, presented students of the Vatican Observatory Summer School to Pope Francis in an audience earlier this summer. Fr. Mueller, the Vatican Observatory's administrative vice director and superior of its Jesuit community, stood in for Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Observatory's director who was traveling at the time.

"The Vatican Observatory runs a month-long Summer School once every two years," explained Fr. Mueller. "Admission is by competitive application; typically, we receive 150-200 applications for 25 slots. Participants are usually doctoral students, or sometimes advanced undergraduates, in astronomy. Students are selected without regard to gender or religion, but we take no more than two from the same country and have a preference for students from the developing world."

This summer's course topic was Water in the Solar System and Beyond with Jesuit Brother Robert Macke, of the Central and Southern Province, serving as academic dean. It marked the fifteenth installment of the summer course and 125th anniversary of the Vatican Observatory's founding by Pope Leo XIII in 1891.

In his remarks to students, Pope Francis highlighted the value of cultural diversity in scientific research.




Fr. Paul Mueller, SJ, addressing Vatican Observatory Summer School students and Pope Francis.

"God's creation, and our own place in it, is shared by men and women of very diverse cultural and religious backgrounds," said the pope. "All of us dwell under the same sky. All of us are moved by the beauty revealed in the cosmos and reflected in the study of the heavenly bodies and substances. In this sense, we are united by the desire to discover the truth about how this marvelous universe operates; and in this, we draw ever closer to the Creator."

The pope also touched upon the Vatican Observatory's mission to use "new scientific instruments as well as the tools of dialogue and cooperation with other centers of research," while seeking joy in a scientific vocation.

"May you always find joy in your research," he said, "and share the fruit of your studies with humility and fraternity."




Pope Francis, with Fr. Paul Mueller, SJ, to the right, and students of the Vatican Observatory's Summer School.
[Sources: Vatican ObservatoryVatican Radio]





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