Jesuit brother Guy Consolmagno is living proof that science and religion need not be at odds with one another.
The papal astronomer was just awarded the prestigious Carl Sagan Medal for “outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist" by the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences, according to the Catholic Sun.
Consolmagno was honored because he “occupies a unique position within our profession as a credible spokesperson for scientific honesty within the context of religious belief," reports the website for the Jesuit order, which is known for its emphasis on social justice, focus on education, and free-thinking attitude. Pope Francis became the first Jesuit pope upon his election in 2013.
The astronomer is renowned for his home astronomy guidebook, "Turn Left At Orion," his BBC radio show “A Brief History of the End of Everything,"
as well as his many public lectures which help convey the excitement of scientific inquiry to the general public. In 2014, he delivered the commencement address at Georgetown University.
He told Catholic News Service that he believes that Catholic scientists should not hesitate to share their love of science with their communities, in order to show that the Church is not opposed to science. “Show them that our religion does not tell us what ‘facts’ we can believe, but rather our religion gives us the reason why we go looking to try to understand those facts,” he said.
Consolmagno credits his Jesuit background with allowing him to help talk about his faith in a public manner. “I can concentrate on communicating my passion for my science and let my collar do the rest of the talking for me. It has been one of the greatest blessings of my vocation,” he said, according to the Catholic Sun. He became a Jesuit when he was in his late 30s, after working for the Harvard College Observatory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Peace Corps.
An AAS press release said, "As a Jesuit Brother, Guy has become the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a rational spokesperson who can convey exceptionally well how religion and science can co-exist for believers."