The scientist's condition as a sentinel in the modern world, as one who is the first to glimpse the enormous complexity together with the marvellous harmony of reality, makes him a privileged witness of the plausibility of religion, a man capable of showing how the admission of transcendence, far from harming the autonomy and the ends of research, rather stimulates it to continually surpass itself in an experience of self-transcendence which reveals the human mystery".
Pope John Paul II, 7/17/85.
While the whole nature of the Vatican Observatory is to be a bridge between science and the Catholic Church, studies involving science, philosophy, and theology have formed an explicit part of the Observatory's activity since 1987 when it organized two interdisciplinary conferences as a response to Pope John Paul II's request for something both to commemorate Sir Isaac Newton's epoch-making book, Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica, and to contribute to the dialogue between the two cultures. The first meeting to commemorate the Newton tercentenary was held in Cracow, May 1987, and resulted in the book, Newton and the New Direction in Science. This prepared for the second meeting, September 1987, at Castel Gandolfo, whose proceedings and a message fromPope John Paul II are given in Physics, Philosophy, and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding.