The world is aware of the many firsts the new Catholic Leader, Pope Francis I, has already achieved. Among them is the simple fact that the new Pope is in fact a scientist. The Jesuit Order of Catholicism is best known for operating schools and universities around the world. A pro-education and pro-science pontiff is indeed something newsworthy.
The new Pope is of course a social conservative as all Catholic cardinals and Bishops are. However with his training as a chemist has has a very good understanding of fundamental sciences and that without doubt colors both his decisions and his beliefs. Huge immediate changes are not expected but a theological scholar that is also a scientist represents a shift that promises to be exciting to follow during this papacy.
The lack of pompous the newly elected pontiff demonstrated shows him to be a grounded and pragmatic man. The pseudo war between science and religion might be seriously challenged by this papacy. Often people do not realize that many early scientists were in fact priests and monks many of them serving the catholic church. Mendelian genetics are the fruit of the labor of Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) a catholic monk. Now for the first time the word can see a Pope that is seated in the traditions of learning both about the physical and the spiritual.
The challenges of the modern era demand cooperation and compromise. Religion and science have both great contributions to offer in solving our many and serious problems. A pragmatic approach in solving these problems by the most prominent religious leader in the world can heal the rift between knowledge and belief without compromising either.
It is exciting to see a scholar ascending to the echelon of Catholicism. Belief and knowledge complement, do not challenge each other and the newly elected pontiff could be the catalyst to a new area of cooperation between science and religion.