Vatican promotes science festival

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s Council for Culture is promoting its first science festival, which will be held in Owerri, Nigeria, this Friday to May 2.

(CNS file/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

(CNS file/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

The aim of the festival is to open up young people, families, and adults to the joys and wonders of science and technology, organizers said at a Vatican press conference today.

Exhibits will be hands-on, interactive and won’t rely on electricity to get them working — so power outages won’t present any problems. Sections will include experiments with and instruction on energy, the environment, health and nutrition, and music.

The initiative has been organized by the City of Science in Naples, a Rome-based association of Nigerian and Italian university students, the Rome Diocese’s pastoral office for universities, and the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Organizers say this is just the first step of a long-term plan to create a permanent science center in Owerri.

The Vatican council’s press release said:

Science and technology are also indispensable  for sustainable development in Africa.

In Africa, scientific instruction and education in schools is not enough to foster curiosity about science and get the wider public involved.

Science and technology are indispensable tools for empowering people and should be supported with efforts that promote curiosity toward science and the intelligent use of technology.

Pope headed to Africa next spring

It’s official — Pope Benedict XVI plans to make his first trip to Africa next March, visiting Cameroon and Angola.

The pope announced the trip at Sunday’s closing Mass for the Synod of Bishops on the Bible. He also confirmed plans to hold the second special Synod of Bishops for Africa at the Vatican in October 2009.

The pope said he will hand-deliver the African synod’s Instrumentum Laboris, or working document, when he travels to Cameroon in March to meet with representatives from African bishops’ conferences.

The 2009 synod theme will be “The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.”  The first African synod took place at the Vatican in 1994. Ten years later, Pope John Paul II said another synod would be held to allow church leaders to address the continent’s changing religious, demographic, social and political scenes.

Pope Benedict said he would go from Cameroon to Angola, where he will celebrate the 500th anniversary of that country’s evangelization.

For months, rumors have been percolating around the Vatican of a papal trip to Africa, a continent that has not hosted a pope since 1998.  In October, the Vatican’s advance team traveled to Africa to firm up plans, according to sources.

At present, it’s the only foreign trip on the pope’s calendar next year. With the synod to follow, it looks like 2009 with be a year of Africa for the church.