Today (March 24) marks the sixth anniversary of the death of Fr. Bill Stoeger. Many of us remember him for both his brilliant academic mind and his holy and gentle personality. Over the years there have been a number of posts here about him and his work… he was both a cosmologist (classmate and friend of Stephen Hawking, collaborator and co-author with a number of the great cosmologists of our era) and as a theologian. He also was greatly sought after as a spiritual director.
He was also widely sought after as a speaker and subject of videos. His style was very different from most media-savvy astronomers; rather than having a glib answer ready to hand, he would speak slowly, gently, but clearly, weighing each word… and making the interviewer feel that this was perhaps the first time that question had been asked (even when in reality it was the millionth time!)
Recently, at the Specola we got a lovely email message from Fr. Christof Wolf SJ of the Jesuit School of Philosophy in Munich. Many years ago – in 2001– they had made a video of Fr. Stoeger; now, with the free time that came with the virus lock down, he finally had a time to go through the tapes and make five more short videos based on those interviews. I loved watching them, not because he breaks new ground here (that wasn’t his intent) but just because seeing him as he was, in his prime, reminds me again of what a treasure he was to have in our community at the Vatican Observatory
Take a look at them, from the Loyola Productions Munich YouTube channel:
1 Is the traditional view of the cosmos being created compatible with the contemporary astrophysical theories of the evolution of the cosmos?
2 How did you become an astronomer? How do you integrate your work as a scientist with being a Catholic priest?
3 In the 16th century Fr. Eusebio Kino S.J. studied astronomy and mathematics in order to be a good missionary. Do you see yourself in that tradition? Or is the situation totally different today?
4 Do remote cosmic events have an effect on human activity on earth?
5 Is there extra-terrestrial life? And if there is extra-terrestial life, what would that mean for us?