Belgium : Testimony from Mgr SCHOOYANS

We met quite often at meetings of various international professional bodies. What struck me first about Jérôme Lejeune was the way he distinguished rigorously between levels of the truth. In his laboratory or in the clinic he brought about spectacular advances in genetics. As the second millennium was ending he exemplified impressively the distinguished tradition of French medicine, which Claude Bernard had ennobled, by observing, in his turn, experimenting, formulating hypotheses, and verifying them. But he was careful not to fall into a sort of ‘scientism’, by making a religion of science. He did not expect science to solve problems which are within the competence of philosophy. He knew that the range of reason is not limited to saying ‘how’, but that that leads on to asking ‘why’. He did not brush off questions regarding the meaning of existence, or of life and death. Jerome Lejeune’s entire scientific activity and his philosophical reflection were characterized by his awareness of the abiding mystery of it. He was a man possessed of wonderment at everyday things: a flower, the palm of a hand, the eyes of lovers. Jerome Lejeune was in his way fascinated by the modern age. And so he was well prepared by his dual role of scientist and philosopher for accommodating himself to an extra dimension of truth : Truth with a capital ‘t’, the religious, Christian truth. But at this level there came into his life a certain role-reversal. For it was now God Himself Who took the first step, to approach him and to reveal Himself to him. Jerome Lejeune read the foot-print of God in the very lamellae under his microscope. And He discovered the features of Christ Himself in the faces of his trisomic patients.

Professor emeritus at Louvain University, Belgium