Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Homily by Fr. Tom Stack at evening Mass in Milltown Parish Church on Sat. May 12th 2012

On the May Bank Holiday Monday (7/6/2012) I attended an unusual event in the Regency hotel on Dublin’s north side. It was a large gathering of over one thousand Catholic Christians, both lay folk and priests, who had come together at the invitation of the Irish Association of Catholic Priests. It was a moving experience at which we had heard from many of the participants who where disaffected due to the present state of their church here in Ireland. Indeed the tone of dismay there represented the mood of our citizens concerning other dimensions of our present national life, our betrayal by bankers, developers, and perhaps politicians too. The tone of much of the proceedings reflected the disillusionment felt by both laity and priests caused by the absence of follow through from the second Vatican Council (50 years ago this year) which had called all members of the catholic Christian family worldwide to a more participative role within our Christian community. The Council had proposed what can only be described as a ‘Copernican Revolution’ in the functioning of all the baptised within the structures and communal life of the church; beginning at parish level. By Copernican Revolution I refer to the astronomer of that name who first told us that the earth moved around the sun rather than vice v versa. ; The sun was the large radiant centre (the laity), the earth (the clergy) was in one sense essentially ancillary. In pastoral parish terms this translates as follows: instead of the laity seeing themselves as there to help the priest in the conduct and functioning of the parish; instead of this model it should, according to the Council’s vision, be the other way around. It is the priest who should exercise his ministry in the way of assisting the laity of the parish; as all, every single parishioner is called and is entitled to be co- responsible in the building up of his or her local Christian community. Perhaps further teachings of the Vatican Council have also been allowed to suffocate ; notably the responsibility and right of local church leaders, in communion with each other and with the Bishop of Rome, to guide and promote the life of the universal church at local level, in accordance with the Council’s teaching on what is called episcopal collegiality. Why do we remind ourselves this evening of all of this as we reflect on the scripture readings of this evening’s Mass? It is because we hear the teaching of Jesus Christ summed up in a brief but crucial injunction; the words of Christ which distil that entire he taught in one, both primitive and ultimate word. And that word is love! (It occurs eighteen times in the texts of the readings of this Mass). Jesus says it all, when he enjoins us to love one another. As we know, that may be often difficult to honour. But as we also know, that invitation of the Lord is both beautiful and liberating. When this manifesto of love is in any way blocked or muted then there is blockage in the Gospel teaching. If fearful institutional qualms somehow get in the way of the project of developing our loving communion as brothers and sisters in Christ, it is wrong. Pragmatic and political interests must not intrude on our Church’s evangelical purpose. But returning to the pessimistic, conflictual mood of last Monday’s assembly in the Regency Hotel to which I referred: this present situation prompts the canny phrase coined by an American economist. He famously warned ‘a crisis is a terrible thing to waste’. There may be a crisis now in the Irish Christian community. Maybe it had to come to this to bring us to a moment of truth; a moment of truth that providentially, will stir our household of faith and hope into action; from bishops to priests to all the baptised. Our present state of affairs may well provide the spark that will awaken our determination to change and truly grow …… in love. I hope so. Fr. Tom Stack

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Louis McRedmond

Louis McRedmond, an outstanding religious journalist of our era was buried on Thursday January 20th 2011. At and after the Funeral Mass the sadness of his passing was assuaged by the sense of gratitude, which we mourners , both Louis’s family , fellow press-folk and others, owed to this most exceptional human being. From his professional life he bequeathed to us all the memory and lasting treasure of a unique model of truthfulness, integrity, and kindness; the hallmarks of an authentic Christian gentleman.
Born in 1932, Louis McRedmond was educated at C.B.S. Mitchelstown and later at Clongowes Wood College. He then studied at U.C.D. graduating with an M.A. in history. Legal studies followed, been called to the bar in 1954. In 1958 he joined the Irish Independent as Leader Writer, rising to the responsibility of Editor in 1968. However, by 1970, the teacher in Louis edged him towards academic service and he was appointed the first Director of Journalism at the Rathmines College of Commerce. In that capacity he launched the first professional course of its kind in Ireland.
Finally Louis took over the senior post of Head of Information at R.T.E. in 1973. In that capacity he successfully promoted the establishment of the station’s second television channel (as against the alternative option, at the time, of replicating B.B.C. schedules).
After early retirement in 1986 Louis contented himself with freelance writing, together with an annual lecturing term on Broadcasting Ethics at the European Broadcasting School at Montreux in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, for thirty years, Louis McRedmond was the Irish correspondent for the English based, international Catholic weekly The Tablet.
In 1965 Louis had reported the fourth and final session of the Second Vatican Council in Rome, and this was followed by his attendance as reporter and commentator at subsequent International Church Synods. He was captivated by both the atmosphere and output of these reforming historical events. They proved to be a lasting and determinative experience in Louis’ life and marked him as a knowledgeable champion of Catholic renewal.

Louis published his first book, The Council Re-considered, in 1956. This was an authoritative and highly readable retrospective on both the conciliar achievement and its future promise. Subsequently, he was to sternly critique the unfortunate row-back on much of Blessed Pope John XX111 prophetic vision of aggiornamento (updating of Catholic thinking and practise).
His next book was followed in 1990 by a volume entitled, Thrown Among Strangers, recounting Blessed John Henry Newman’s sojourn in Ireland, in his attempt to provide a Catholic university at St. Stephens Green in Dublin. Louis published another significant historical work in 1991, entitled, To the Greater Glory, which was the story of the Jesuits in Ireland from the 16th century up to our own times. In addition, he produced a lesser known biographical dictionary, with the title, Modern Irish Life.
During this time Louis also worked as a senior editor for Gill & Mc Millan Publishers and contributed to various journals of opinion.
His last contribution came in the Dominican periodical Doctrine and Life only last November, while he was suffering his final illness. Fortuitously, it was on a topic particularly close to Louis’s heart; a scholarly and affirmative review of a recent book on John Henry Newman, entitled Heart Speaks to Heart (Newman’s motto) written by Irish Jesuit Dermot Mansfield. This review endorsed the authors’ highlighting of Newman’s consistent Christ- centred emphasis, when he (Louis), wrote “since faith is rooted in Christ, any proposition not similarly Christ centred causes us to drift away from the moorings of institutionalized Christianity”.
For me, Louis McRedmond was, in every way, and above all else, a man of encouragement. As a scholar-journalist, perpetually alive to the Christian mystery, he helped so many of us ordained ministers; perhaps more than he ever knew. He has lived and died ‘pour encourager les autres’. And we thank him for this precious gift.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Passion Play at Oberammergau

By Msg. Tom Stack

THE PASSION Play is staged in the small Bavarian town of Oberammergau every 10 years. When I made it to Oberammergau just before this year’s production ended its run, I fulfilled a long-standing, though irresolute, ambition. Concluding on October 3rd, after 102 performances over its 4½-month run, it had been seen by some 500,000 fans, drawn from both Germany and the wider world.

Remarkably, the event is completely “home grown”. The 98-strong dramatis personae are all recruited locally. It is reckoned that from the small town population of roughly 5,000, approximately 2,400 – that is almost half the inhabitants – are involved in one way or another in the production – as performers, choir members, musicians or stage hands. The state-of-the-art, roofed auditorium seats almost 5,000.

The large stage area is, however, constructed in the open air, its dramatic backdrop furnished by the mountainous, tree-clad, alpine landscape.

This produces the unusual sensation of being somehow indoors and outdoors at the same time. The play itself provides a spectacular theatrical experience, calculated to appeal to both Christian believers and unbelievers alike. It embraces a variety of art forms: acting, sculptured tableaux, superbly drilled choreography, live orchestral music and period biblical costumes.

The entire German text of the play is printed in the programme and is supplemented by a full English-language version, with other translations also available. Next to me at the performance which I attended were two ladies from Osaka poring over their Japanese text.

The play is folk theatre in origin and still retains its strong traditional outline and flavour since its inauguration almost 400 years ago. It was first presented in 1634 and has continued almost without interruption at 10-year intervals ever since.

The circumstances of its origin are significant. During the Thirty Years War, widespread plague ravaged Bavaria. The Oberammergau community vowed to represent the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus in theatrical form, as a Christian memorial. Providentially, from then on the townspeople were spared further deaths in their vicinity, which was construed by them as a special blessing.

Cumulative experience and contemporary visual and audio technology have enabled the Oberammergau Passion Play to evolve in terms of its staging and presentation. This has strengthened its emotional impact.

The modern text, too, though faithful to the Gospel narratives, is, I believe, racier than of yore. Interestingly the traditional Passion segment of the story is not confined to the events of Holy Week (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) but also skilfully interpolates earlier episodes in the public ministry of Jesus, such as his teaching on the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20). The text also reveals the Jesus character interacting with women in a way undreamt of by orthodox religious figures of the day. His approach to female figures in the story is counter-cultural, such is the dignity and respect which he unfailingly accords them. I recall, above all, the poignancy of the scene in which Jesus lifts to her feet the cowering “woman taken in adultery” and as her accusers slink away, asks “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you . . .” (John 10:10). A timeless moment of forgiveness.

At Bethany there is the delicacy of the Nazarene’s encounter with the woman named Magdalena in the script who is admonished by two of the disciples as she makes an extravagant gesture of esteem towards Jesus which he, in contrast, graciously affirms (Matthew 26:10). There is the confrontation with the merchants whom he ousts from the temple (Matthew 21:12) and the drama of “truth speaking to power” as the prisoner appears before Pilate (Luke 6:2).

The play lasts something over five hours (with an intermission). The narrative, however, never flags. The artistic excellence of the production is sustained throughout and one is swept along by the momentum of the story which edges towards the heart of the Christian mystery.

What is in the end most special about the Oberammergau experience is that it delivers the pristine quality of the Gospel story in a singular way. And for me it was a day well spent.

Tom Stack

Published in the Irish Times (An Irishman's Diary) November 8th 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oscar Romero

Romero legacy of hope echoes on for oppressed and dispossessed

By Fr. Tom Stack

Thirty years after his
death, Oscar Romero
remains a hero for all who
go hungry in body and soul.

Images of Oscar Romero have been visible everywhere in El Salvador in recent days. Across the country, enthusiastic crowds gathered to commemorate this extraordinary Christian leader. The 30th anniversary of his death last week was met by an outpouring of affection for his memory.

Awareness of Romero’s reputation has spread beyond his native land, and the historic witness he played to truth and justice is now marked annually in many countries of the Americas and beyond.

In Dublin, a special memorial mass was celebrated under the auspices of the Irish Missionary Union, attended by Franciscan friars and Sisters of St. Clare, both of which orders have Irish personnel currently working in El Salvador.

Oscar Romero was archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until he was brutally assassinated by a government military death squad, who gunned him down while celebrating the Eucharist in the chapel of the city’s cancer hospital on March 24th 1980. That shocking event is still mourned each year.

The circumstances of his death are not the only reason for Salvadoreans’ annual mourning for their late archbishop. The anniversary also revives the memory of a potent, hope-filled aspiration for the poor of El Salvador, which it seems has never been quenched.

Besides the appalling manner in which he was killed, he is venerated for his commitment to the struggle for human rights and social justice which characterised his ministry.

Last week, I had an opportunity of viewing a film which featured Oscar Romero, which was shown on RTÉ in 1980, just weeks before his death.

It was part of a Radharc series, presented by the late Fr. Joe Dunn. Although filmed 30 years ago, what it portrays remains remarkable as the embodiment of Christian integrity in a singular man – a gift that never grows old. It reflects the Salvadorean bishops’ consuming concern for truth, justice and compassion on behalf of the dispossessed of his countryfolk.
The Film is titled Who Is for Liberation?, a reference to the then emphasis on a particular pastoral approach to socio-religious issues which came to be known as “Liberation Theology”.

Its priorities are based on a number of fundamental truths: It is nothing less than an affront to preach the existence of a provident God to a people suffering a state of oppression that breeds hunger and helplessness. Such are deprived of freedom, not by God’s will, but as a result of the sinfulness of an unjust political and social establishment. This oppressive condition is to be confronted by the communal strength engendered by the social solidarity of those who are dispossessed.
In this way hope is nurtured, especially by their sharing of the meagre resources which these poorest of citizens can offer to one another. Pastoral programmes driven in this way will inevitably include a political, though non-violent, dimension.
This pastoral stance is seminally contained in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. It is further articulated by the emphasis on the “preferential option for the poor” which emanated from the subsequent Latin-American conference at Medellin, Columbia, in 1968.

In addition, the World Synod of Bishops in 1971 declared: “Action on behalf of justice... appears to us as a constitutive dimension of the Gospel... and of the Church’s mission for the liberation of every oppressive situation.”
This renewed vision of the social theology of the Catholic Church was personified in the witness and work of Archbishop Romero. After 30 years it still lives in his legacy.

Romero’s prophetic task may have been cruelly cut short by the machinations of the wealthy and greedy of his own country, but he remains a hero for all those, without number, who still go hungry in body and soul – an enduring symbol of both justice and hope.

It was Jesus Christ who said “You know that among the pagans, their so called rulers lorded over them and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen with you, No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:42).

As he continues to echo these words through how he lived and through his ministry, Romero will not be forgotten. Oddly, he has not yet been officially deemed either “martyr” or “confessor” by the Catholic Church.

I wonder why?

Fr. Tom Stack, Milltown Parish, Dublin 6

(Published in the Irish Times, March 30th 2010)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jesuit Origins in Limerick

In September 2009 the pupils and past-pupils of the Crescent College Limerick celebrate the 150th anniversary of the foundation of their school. Although the year 1859 marks the beginning of the Crescent as we know it the first Jesuit educational presence in Limerick dates from 1565. The story of the Jesuits arrival in Limerick and their subsequent fortunes in the city are outlined below.

Jesuit Origins in Limerick
Tom Stack

Although we are this year celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Crescent as we have known it, nevertheless it is of historical importance to recall that a Jesuit college had also existed in our native city almost three hundred years previously; in 1565.
This was at the time when both Ireland and the local Catholic Church were under the rule of the British Monarchy. Henry V111 had declared himself Supreme Head of the Church here 29 years earlier (1536). Queen Elizabeth 1, who reigned from 1558 – 1603, was excommunicated in 1570 and her policy and determination was to install the established Anglican Church as the official religion of our country.
At this time the demography of Ireland was by no means uniform and our population consisted of three distinct cultural traditions. Irish towns were largely peopled by those who were called the ‘old English’. These were descended from the Norman invaders of earlier centuries, or more commonly the Anglo-Saxon retainers and tradesmen who had come here in their train. These townsfolk spoke English as their everyday language. While still retaining knowledge of the old ancestral tongue, they had adopted fewer Gaelic customs than their counterparts in the country districts. Moreover, they had developed an affinity with the English Crown, but had clung to their catholic heritage, despite the pressures brought to bear on them by the English Reformation.

As distinct from the town dwellers, there were also the exclusively Gaelic speaking ‘native Irish’ of the countryside who spoke only Irish. In many parts of the country, especially in the north and west, the population retained a fealty to the old local chieftains of the Gaelic order. Though of course Catholic, the texture and practise of their religion had degenerated to such an extent that a programme of renewal and re-organisation had become a pressing need throughout the land.
Thirdly, there were those known as the ‘new English’ who were the most recent settlers in Ireland. They had appeared as a result of the Tudor Plantations and they were to be found in both the towns and countryside. They were of course Protestant and spoke only English.

It is in this context that the then newly founded Jesuit Order (1540) first appeared on the Irish scene. Several of the Irish chieftains had petitioned the Pope at the time who was Paul 111 to send help to the Irish church, then labouring under both Tudor aggression and widespread lack of solid Christian education among its members. The fledgling Society of Jesus, although then still confined to its ten founding members, was soon to embrace the educational apostolate. St. Ignatius himself was asked to send a two-man reconnaissance party to access the needs and the prospects of a future Jesuit pastoral presence in Ireland. Ignatius willingly dispatched two of his first companions, Frs. Salmeron and Broet to the Gaelic territory of Donegal. This northern rural destination proved virtually impenetrable to the two Jesuit Papal envoys; one a Spaniard and the other a Frenchman. Obviously they could not speak the language of the people that they encountered in this, ‘wild region’ inhabited as they reported by ‘the most intractable of all peoples’! It would have been wiser had they been sent to a less remote region with its ‘old English residents'; some of whom might well have been able to converse with the two Jesuits perhaps in French. One assumes that their only communication was through Latin which would have limited their fact-finding activity to what they could glean from clergy here and there. Sadly it seems that this Jesuit expedition proved to be something of a non-event.

Limerick Foundation

It is against the background of this trying, futile, though curiously courageous Jesuit adventure that the first properly planned and fruitful Jesuit missionary project in Ireland came about. It fell to the task of a most competent priest, Fr. David Wolfe, himself a native son of Limerick, to realise the dream of founding a Jesuit community and school in his home city. Fr. Wolfe had entered the Jesuits in Italy and was already an experienced, ordained priest when Pope Paul 1V decided to send him to Ireland, appointing him as his apostolic nuncio “to the most illustrious princes and to the whole kingdom of Ireland”. His brief was to investigate the quality of the Irish clergy and to set up Grammar schools if possible and persuade parents to send their children to them. Moreover, he was to accept no reward for any such work undertaken; an interesting recognition of the case for free ‘secondary education’. The ambition to establish a school or schools obviously appealed to Fr. Wolfe, as such an educational project would have been particularly dear to his Jesuit heart. David Wolfe had grown up in Limerick. Oral tradition has it that his family lived in a house within the grounds of St. Mary’s Cathedral at Atklunkard St. He was well aquainted with the city of his birth and its people, which gave him a distinct advantage in setting about ways and means of bringing a Jesuit school into being.

Fr. David Wolfe arrived in Limerick in August 1560. He immediately set about his pioneering work with both savvy and enthusiasm. It took him five years for his plan to become a reality. A Jesuit Grammar School for boys was opened in 1565, situated intriguingly but a ‘stone’s throw’ away from where he himself had grown up. As result of the early foundation date of the first Jesuit school in our country, folklore has bestowed on Limerick the proud credit, ‘cradle of the company of Jesuits in Ireland’.

A member of Fr. Wolfe’s Jesuit community at the school was a young Limerick man named Edmund Daniel, (sometimes rendered ‘O’Donnell’) who later became the first Jesuit martyr in Europe. Captured and imprisoned in the city in 1572, he was later taken, handcuffed, to Cork where he was hanged, drawn and quartered for his fidelity to Catholic belief. At one time or another during these early years all of the Jesuits working in Limerick were imprisoned. Due to the sustained harassment and threats by the civic authorities, Fr. Wolfe’s school could only continue to function by periodic relocation, first to Killmallock, in Co. Limerick, then to Clonmel and finally to Youghal.


The defeat of the Catholic Desmond’s in the 1580’s made the continuation of the school impossible for a time. The turn of the century however saw the Jesuits back in Limerick again, living a low profile existence in lodgings here and there. By 1640 a residence had been established in Castle Lane and by 1672 the Society had reopened a school on a site near St. Mary’s Cathedral, adjacent to the site of their first venture back in 1565.
Then once again, with the Cromwellian invasion, the Jesuits’ Limerick activity as elsewhere in Ireland was savagely disrupted. Of the then forty five members of the Society throughout the country, only some eighteen managed to avoid capture.
With the restoration of the British monarchy on the accession of Charles 11, a school was re-established, again in Castle Lane and this remained opened until the defeat of the Jacobite cause in 1692.
With the intervention of the Penal laws a wholesale deportation of the Order was grimly executed. By 1724 however yet another ‘S.J.’ revival had taken place, with Jesuits once more openly teaching in Limerick.
Later again, there occurred the forty one year long Suppression of the Order, during which the Fathers worked on as diocesan priests across the land. Forty five years after the restoration of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits returned to Limerick in 1859 to resume their teaching ministry which henceforth was to remain a permanent presence in our midst. At first their college was under the aegis of the Limerick diocese and known as St. Munchin’s. Shortly afterwards they opened their own independent institution at The Crescent and later the Sacred Heart Church; both of which many of us have known so well.
The most recent development, the Crescent Comprehensive of the 1970’s is the latest successful chapter in the Limerick Jesuit story. Nowadays it is a co-educational institution (to which I dare say, no boy of my generation would have gravely objected!). An inscribed stone, remnant of the original 1565 school is to be found embedded in the façade of the present day school.

It is no less than fascinating to recall that over almost five long centuries the sons of St. Ignatius Loyola have survived four major interruptions in their Limerick ministry. Their story is a saga of chequered history, marked throughout by its own special brand of indomitability; driven always by a faith that abides, a hope that shines and a love that abounds. We Crescent alumni of the twenty-first century will be forever glad that in 1859, the Jesuits came back to us, this time, to stay.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Coarseness of language on R.T.E. radio Letter To the Irish Times

Dear Madam,

Your correspondent Breda O’Brien has commented on the new Broadcasting Bill before the Oireachtas (21.6.08). What she had to say makes telling reading for quite a number of reasonable folk of my acquaintances. The Bill’s curiously restricted approach to all matters religious would seem to be nothing less than churlish. But whatever about this aspect of the proposed legislation , there is another issue concerning our public service broadcasting on R.T.E. which might be more easily reviewed by the Minister for Communications; an issue which of itself has nothing to do with God or religion. It relates to the increasing coarseness of language to be heard nowadays on R.T.E. radio in particular. Of course, profanities of various hues are and will remain a ‘colourful’ ingredient of our private national patois. However, when they punctuate interviews and discussions on the public airwaves, they demean the social environment (as your correspondent Deaglun O’ Breadun has recently noted). In view of the inter-connection between all aspects of human ecology, it could be argued that gratuitously coarse language insinuates an undertone of violence into public discourse and thus impacts negatively on the social environment. Moreover the use of locker room language addressing the public at large does violence to the sensibilities of many and not just fogies. It is widely acknowledged that Irish society is growing more violent by the day. It follows that anything which contributes, obliquely or otherwise, to this violence, is to be resisted. This includes what appears to be a licence to indulge at will, in the use of offensive expletives. The coarsening of discourse in society is a civic matter and when public service radio conspires, even unwittingly, in this process then tax payers are entitled to regard it as objectionable and as constituting unfair treatment. Besides, this problem does not seem to arise in the state broadcasting institutions of other countries. Perhaps a code of practise in this respect could be considered in framing R.T.E. policy. If the minister of communications, Eamon Ryan, could address this element in our social environment, it might well enhance the quality of our communal habitat.


Fr. Tom Stack

Polish Priest Scientist wins Templeton Prize

This year’s winner of the richest of all international awards, The Templeton Prize, is the Polish priest mathematical physicist, Michael Heller. This choice of Heller’s peers highlights the importance of the search for the origin and meaning of the universe, as a joint enterprise of science and religion. It is a judgement, I dare say, that will not altogether please atheistic ideologues such as Richard Dawkins and like minded academics. Fr. Heller’s award follows in the tradition of celebrated priest scientists such as Gregor Mendel, who gave us the foundation of modern genetic and George Lamaitre, who formulated the concept of the ‘Big Bang’ theory.

Despite the anti-intellectualism of the Communist regime that controlled Poland for most of his life, Heller established himself during the 1970’s and 1980’s as an international figure among cosmologists and physicists generally, through his more than thirty books and some four hundred scholarly papers. These covered questions such as the unification of general relativity, quantum mechanics and the philosophy and history of science.

As a Catholic priest Michael Heller overcame the anti religious propaganda of Polish Communist officialdom and revealed new insights for people of religious faith by enhancing the traditional Christian way of viewing the universe, within a wider cosmological setting and by providing a fresh dimension to this important inquiry in terms of the ‘theology of science’.

In his nomination of Dr. Heller for the Templeton award, Professor Carol Musiol of the Institute of Physics at the Jagillonian University of Kracow, commended this year’s laureate as follows: “his, (Heller’s) unique position as a creatively working scientist and reflective man of religion, has brought to science a sense of transcendent mystery and to religion, a view of the universe through the broadly open eyes of science. It is evident for him that the mathematical nature of the world and its comprehensibility by humans, constitute the circumstantial evidence of the existence of God”.

The symbolic impact of naming Dr. Heller for this international honour could be construed as a reminder that scholars who are devoted exclusively to the pursuit of strictly empirical studies, may be tempted by a myopic approach to their inquiry, especially as is common among Anglophone Scientists. In other words, the international Templeton award committee may be hinting that the time has come to redeem the holistic mindset and to broaden the intellectual imagination to the point of acknowledging that what we experience as reality, extends beyond what can be measured by technology and analysed without remainder, within the confining four walls of the laboratory. Like political dictators, the dictatorship that infects some scientific schools, no longer serves all of the best interests of the genuinely enquiring mind. We are reminded that the strict and true meaning of the word ‘scientia’ is ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom’. Often the word has come to mean ‘zealotry dressed in a white coat!’.

The 2008 Templeton prize was officially awarded to Dr. Heller by Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace on 7th May.