Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pope picks Protestant to head Vatican's sciences academy

VATICAN CITY — The pope has picked a Protestant to head the Vatican's sciences academy.

Benedict XVI chose Werner Arber, a Swiss molecular biologist who shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1978, as president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Sunday it is the first time a non-Catholic heads the academy in its four centuries of history.

The academy help pontiffs understand scientific advances in fields ranging from genetics to nuclear physics. Arber became a member in 1981. Other non-Catholics who have been prominent academy members, but not president, include Rita Levi Montalcini, an Italian Jew and 1986 Nobel winner for medicine.

From wiki: "He is member of the World Knowledge Dialogue Scientific Board and of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences since 1981. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on January 2011, making him the first Protestant to hold the position.[2]"

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