Pier Paolo Cito, Associated Press
Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful as he arrives in the Paul VI hall for his weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012.

Maybe it's a real-life version of Angels & Demons, minus the Illuminati, the poisoned Pope and the exploding anti-matter.

Pope Benedict XVI launched a new Science and Faith Foundation intended to build a "philosophical bridge" between science and theology, www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-benedict-creates-new-science-and-faith-foundation/ according to the Catholic News Agency.

"I don't think most people necessarily see science and faith as being opposed, but I do think there is confusion as to where to put faith and where to put science in their life," said Father Tomasz Trafny, the foundation's executive director.

Building on work by the Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest project, which was created by Pope John Paul II in 2003, the foundation will work to establish a dialogue between theology and the sciences. Working in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Culture and Rome's pontifical universities, the aim is to explore "the possibility of being believers at the dawn of the third millennium without renouncing scientific progress."

The Catholic Church has had a long struggle merging the sciences with religious beliefs. While Pope Gregory XIII advanced astronomy and contributed the Gregorian calendar to Western civilization based on the church's findings, the church also condemned the heliocentric theory of the earth revolving around the sun.

Even last year articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-04/news/ct-met-galileo-was-wrong-20110704_1_modern-church-universe-splinter-groupyear, the Chicago Tribune reported a small group of Catholics in the Chicago area defended the church's original teachings of the geocentric view of the universe.

"Heliocentrism becomes 'dangerous' if it is being propped up as the true system when, in fact, it is a false system," Robert Sungenis, leader of the movement, told the Tribune. "False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions — thus the state of the world today. … Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world; and governments and academia were subservient to her."

The movement even held a conference just outside the church-sponsored University of Notre Dame campus. Hundreds attended event titled "Galileo Was Wrong. The Church Was Right."

Professors at the Catholic university denounced the movement.

"It's an idea whose time has come and gone," astrophysics professor Peter Garnavich told the Tribune. "There are some people who want to move the world back to the 1950s when it seemed like a better time. These are people who want to move the world back to the 1250s. I don't really understand it at all."

Email: jbolding@desnews.com