The Pope on Theories of Evolution

Dear Father Bloom:

Pax et Bonum: I was asked by a Lutheran friend to explain the Pope's recent statement(s) regarding evolution. Since I do not know what the Holy Father said, I am unable to explain. Please help.

The situation is this: he and his family admire a great deal the Pope's stand on abortion, more public and courageous than any other Christian leaders' wishy-washy opposition or even support for abortion. They have been un-nerved by news reports that the Pope "endorsed evolution". I did not know what to say, except that if science honestly seeks truth, there can be no conflict with the Catholic Church. The problems arise when (a) science exits the realm of science and extrapolates into faith, or (b) somebody misunderstands (eg: hardcore Biblical Literalism).

Anyway, can you please point me to an article or web site which contains a complete translation of the situation and the Pope's statements in context and an interpretation?

Thank you for any help.

In His Love,
Chris Kelly


Dear Chris,

The pope has been widely misunderstood because the media presented his address to the Academy of Science as an endorsement of evolution. If they had read the actual text, it would have been clear he was talking about theories of evolution and how recent scientific evidence points to a theory which would acknowledge God's place in the process. ("spiritualist" vs. "reductionist")

Our local paper (the Seattle Post Intelligencer) had an editorial sarcastically welcoming the pope to the 20th century. Then they asked, "When will he change other out of date teachings?" As example, of course, they mention birth control and women priests.

Evolution has a lot of popular appeal because story tellers use it to explain why we act the way we do. E.g. Men are unfaithful because it was necessary for us to project our genetic material as broadly as possible. (These are called "Just So" stories.) In a recent Newsweek there was a tongue in cheek explanation of why men prefer women in short skirts. At the beginning of evolution women tripped over their long skirts seriously injuring their babies!

There is a lot more to be said about evolution. For a perspective on science and religion, please see my article on Carl Sagan.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom


Evolution: What the Pope Said by James Akin

George Sim Johnston points out some of the scientific and philosophical difficulties with Darwinism

Quote from Pope's Address and Sheldon Vanauken

Review of Darwin on Trial

Is Darwinism a Religion? (Catholic World Report article)

Evolution - a Philosophy Naturalism Masquerading as Science?

Hawking, Galileo and the Pope