A priest who headed the fifth annual World Congress of Metaphysics in Rome said the study of that which lies beyond the physical realm puts all other sciences in the right perspective.

In his opening address, congress president Father Jesús Fernández Hernández praised metaphysics as the "supreme science" that aligns all other sciences and philosophies and "opens them to vast horizons."

However, the modern world, he added, "is characterized precisely by a lack of metaphysical vision," which can turn science into humanity's enemy.

Organized by the Idente Foundation for Study and Research, the Nov. 8-10 congress brought together 150 thinkers from 29 nations representing theology, philosophy, and the sciences.

Through the re-appreciation of metaphysics as grounded in the vision of God, participants hoped that a "crisis of metaphysics" will be reversed.

"Metaphysics involves the conception of the absolute, ultimate reality, whatever human beings consider to be the ultimate source or foundation of existence," congress director Father David Murray told CNA.

Sister Rose Calabretta, a theology professor at Manila University, observed that metaphysics points to God as our creator and the source of all life, visible and invisible.

"Every good thing that we want to do, every beautiful gesture that we have, springs from our inner relationship with the absolute," she explained to CNA, noting that "we receive all the good things from the one who created us."

This encounter with the divine, she continued, is meant to be "a vehicle for exploring paths towards the renewal of metaphysics."

The congress reflected that the study of the infinite as discovered through metaphysics should be considered the necessary foundation to provide all sciences with unity, direction, and meaning.

Divorcing the sciences from the metaphysical appreciation of God has caused great harm, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, remarked to CNA.

Scientific and technical discoveries have been used as instruments for evil, noted the Polish prelate, citing advances in weaponry that have made wars all the more catastrophic.

"We have to ask ourselves, what is the scope of science? What is science good for?" he said. "These are the very difficult, but necessary questions so that science might contribute to the good of humanity."

Studying metaphysics, he emphasized, helps put science in the proper perspective because faith and reason compliment one another for the good of humanity. He also noted the importance of these discussions taking place during the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI last month, which marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.