In memory of Francisco J. Ayala

The university organised a memorial dedicated to the recently deceased Doctor Honoris Causa awardee


The university organised a memorial dedicated to the figure of the recently deceased Honorary Doctorate

The university organised a memorial dedicated to the figure of the recently deceased Honorary Doctorate

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The Comillas Pontifical University organized a Memorial dedicated to Francisco J. Ayala, eminent scientist, doctor honoris causa by Comillas and honorary president of the Hana and Francisco Ayala Chair in Science, Technology and Religion of the university, and  recently deceased in California. The tribute ceremony, was attended by Francisco's sister, María Rosa Ayala de Gil and Francisco’s son, Carlos Ayala, along with his wife Gea and their four children; the rector of the University, Enrique Sanz, SJ; the wife of Ayala and co-president of the Chair, Hana Ayala; and the co-directors of the Chair, Sara Lumbreras and Jaime Tatay, SJ, among others.

During his speech, the Rector recalled the connection between the scientist and Comillas through three major aspects: the interest in the future of humanity, environmentalism and the concern for internationalisation and the rigour of knowledge. "We feel very close to Francisco, to Hana and everything that their life represents. Comillas is your home", the Rector reminded Hana Ayala.

Hana, for her part, pointed out that: "To carry on with the legacy of Francisco is an honour and an enormous opportunity. I want to make a solemn promise that will determine the remaining chapters of my life: To ensure that my own legacy will reinforce the immortality and perpetual benefit of Francisco’s gifts to humanity". "The natural world is an incomparable source of wonder and is beyond boundaries. There are still unexplored possibilities that can be used to further develop science and to chart paths for diplomacy and peace. Science, art and creativity were our joy," she concluded. 

Jaime Tatay, SJ recalled the role of Francisco: "A true pioneer of evolutionary biology and also a giant of interdisciplinary research, establishing a prolific dialogue between science, philosophy and religion to promote a more complete and comprehensive vision of the world.”

Sara Lumbreras, for her part, said: "We must follow his example and carry on working on the integration of science and religion, using this synergy to promote a more compassionate, ethical and sustainable world, making the legacy of Francisco's work grow".

During the event, there was a round table discusssion in which Diego Bermejo, doctor in Philosophy, and Pedro García Barreno, physician and essayist, took part. They discussed Francisco J. Ayala's latest book translated into Spanish: El regalo de Darwin a la ciencia y la religión (Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion), co-published by Sal Terrae and the University's Publications Service.

Diego Bermejo highlighted three profiles of Ayala: Darwinian, Popperian and humanist. "He thought life through science and science through life. Scientific knowledge is useful but there are questions that are beyond science and are important to most people, as much as scientific knowledge itself. He bequeathed that life is not about science, that science is not the enemy of religion and that they can coexist if they respect each other's methods".

Pedro García Barreno recalled his close relationship with Francisco J. Ayala: "Francisco J. Ayala was a brilliant thinker, intelligent and much more understanding and tolerant than many intellectual figures who flood our media. He was able to forgive, understand and love, and became a truth that never fades away".

Andrés Moya and Amparo Latorre, doctors in biology and disciples of Ayala; and Camilo Cela, son of the illustrious writer Camilo José Cela, also wanted to dedicate a few words to Francisco J. Ayala. Camilo Cela said: "He combined generosity with talent and proximity with exceptional teaching".

Latorre and Moya, for their part, said: "With Francisco we learned to do science, but I would say even more: we learned a model that we exported on our return to Spain".

The tribute to Francisco J. Ayala concluded with the reading of a poem written by Mercedes Ibáñez and read by Diego Bermejo.