A cardinal, a poet, a composer and a journalist walk into a council


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — U.S. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington and a Portuguese poet, a Spanish architect, two astrophysicists, a Belgian journalist and a curator at the Vatican Museums were named by Pope Benedict XVI to help advise the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The Vatican released the names of the new appointments Dec. 10.

For the first time since 1993, religious and laymen — not just cardinals and bishops — were named full members of the council.

The new lay members are French philosopher and writer Jean-Luc Marion and Estonian classical composer Arvo Part.

Eleven new consultors or advisers were named to the council, including Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, the editor of the influential Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, and Bruno Coppi, a professor of plasma physics and astrophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Others include: Father Jose Tolentino De Mendonca, a Portuguese theologian and poet; Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish architect; Piero Benvenuti, an Italian astrophysicist; Wolf Joachim Singer, a professor of neurology and head of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Germany; Marguerite Peeters, a Belgian journalist; and Micol Forti, the curator of the Vatican Museums’ collection of contemporary art.

Blessed John Paul II created the Pontifical Council for Culture in 1982 with the aim of helping the world’s cultures encounter the message of the Gospel. In 1993, the late pope united the council with the council for dialogue with nonbelievers thus paving the way for using culture as a bridge for dialogue between people of faith and those who profess no religious beliefs.