What’s with all the Catholic priests making all these scientific discoveries? Take neoprene gloves, for example. The trade name for polychloroprene by DuPont, it was invented after chemists working for the company heard the Reverend Father Julius Arthur Nieuwland speak about his research on acetylene. Then there is Gregor Mendel, perhaps the most famous Catholic priest of all in the sciences, the father of modern genetics. It was even a Catholic priest who first proposed the theory of the Big Bang, Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître – though he himself called it a “Cosmic Egg!”

Then again, the existence of such folks is only surprising given the Church’s backward stance on just about every social and scientific innovation in history.

Neoprene gloves were invented by DuPont scientists after hearing a Catholic priest who studied acetylene speak about his work. Though credited, Reverend Julius Aloysius Nieuwland did not profit much from the help he lent – because he wasn’t interested in financial matters. How’s that for someone whose love of his labors is its own reward? Sounds really nice, much in the same vein as Dr. Jonas Salk, who discovered penicillin and basically cured polio. It’s great to see folks who are not motivated by money at all, especially when they happen to be the best and brightest among us! That’s real humanity right there – they are, every one individually, a real Mensch.

Did you know that neoprene gloves came about thanks to a Catholic priest? Neoprene is the trade name for a brand of polychloroprene synthetic rubber made by DuPont. It is stable and yet flexible, chemically speaking, and can maintain these qualities over a wide range of temperatures. The material has quite a diverse variety of applications and is found in just about everything from orthopedic braces to protective gloves.

And the Catholic priest? That was Reverend Julius Aloysius Nieuwland, whose scientific studies on acetylene inspired the subsequent invention of neoprene.