Pope Francis In radical break with his predecessors…

Pope Francis In radical break with his predecessors… October 29, 2014

Pope John Paul II

Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis.* In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.

and Pope Benedict XVI, who called the supposed “clash” between creation and evolution an “absurdity” and hosted a big conference on evolution to which real scientists and not creationist scientists were invited:

…Pope Francis stated… pretty much what his predecessors have said.

“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” Francis said.

“He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.”

And, right on time, the usual suspects weigh in to get everything wrong. MSNBC’s David Berger announces that Francis made a “significant rhetorical break with Catholic Tradition“; fundamentalists both Catholic and Protestant announce the End of Days again, and atheist fundamentalists like P.Z. Myers have hysterics and declare that evolution and creation are completely incompatible.

And lest you think this is anything recent, here’s St. Thomas on the doctrine of Creation, sounding pretty darned evolutionary:

Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.
— Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Physics II.8, lecture 14, no. 268

And he’s just cribbing from Augustine who likewise sees creation happening, not by God perpetually applying little fixes and magicking a tyrannosaurus out of thin air, but by Nature unrolling (Latin: evolvere) the potentialities that God placed in it from the start:

It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth.  In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in times to come.  [Emph. added]

On the literal meanings of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11

Instead of reading dumb-inducing MSM misunderstandings of the Church’s teaching on Creation and mind-melting hysterics from fundamentalists both Christians and atheist, my suggestion is to go read the most excellent Michael Flynn on why evolution is perfectly compatible with Catholic teaching and why evolution and creation cannot contradict each other (though, of course both atheist and religious fundamentalists often labor to make them do so).

Also, you might want to check out Yr Obdt Svt. on the topic long before Francis revolutionized everyting on Monday.  Truly astonishing how I anticipated what he’d say like that.  It’s like I thought the Church has been saying this stuff for centuries or something.

Then, when you are done, go cleanse your palate with this hilarious piece from Eye of the Tiber:

Pope Francis Says Forces Of Gravity And Electromagnetism Are Real

Update: Mike Flynn helpfully adds:

I’ll see your Thomas Aquinas and raise you a Thomas Aquinas:

“Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.” — Summa theologica, Part I Q73 A1 reply3

IOW new species would appear by means of the powers already invested in nature by God.
Or as the B-16 put it:

“Creation should be thought of, not according to the model of the craftsman who makes all sorts of objects, but rather in the manner that thought is creative. And at the same time it becomes evident that being-in-movement as a whole (and not just the beginning) is creation…” — Benedict XVI

IOW, species are four-dimensional and their evolutions over time are simply a part of the same creation, just as a fetus, an infant, an adolescent, and an adult are simply temporal parts of the same four-dimensional being.

""I have little interest in actors so had no idea this poor young woman had ..."

Right now is the Greatest Persecution ..."
"I'm referring to American right-wing (and any other wing) Catholics who voted for Donald Trump ..."

A smart take on the polarization ..."
"You're making an equivalence? That's absurd.None of those things is evil. Not one."

A smart take on the polarization ..."
"And the left is positively saintly in its support of Church teachings and definitive doctrines ..."

A smart take on the polarization ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Joseph

    How I despise the MSM. The Pope can’t say a thing without them deliberately and maliciously distorting it. The usual suspects got everything wrong, but the other usual suspects were all too eager to soak up every jot and tittle that was wrongly written (though the same crowd will be the first to claim that the MSM always lies or distorts the truth… just not when it’s reporting on the Catholic Church, apparently). Oh, the stress! I have to keep cleaning up after this mess with friends and family who are, to put it kindly, apprehensive about Catholicism.
    The MSM is a destructive and evil force. I’ve always known it, but I can now say with confidence that they are, all of them, anti-Catholic bigots determined to sow confusion about Catholicism… seemingly the only religion they care about.

    • Andy

      I am not sure they are only anti-Catholic, I think they are more broadly anti-Christian. It is just that the Catholic Church is an easy target – being counter-cultural and all that. Also it take less energy to attack the Catholic Church because Catholics have written so much. Finally it is easy because the Catholic Church is not liberal-conservative, Dem.-Rep. – it is what it is and the media so like to tear down what it cannot understand.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Even more scandalous, with revolutionary (i.e., progressive) and reactionary Catholic blogs and publications as accomplices!

      They need to amend the oremus pro pontifice to have a line about inimici et intra ecclesiam et extra ecclesiam.

      • Joseph

        Worse still, the anti-theist new atheists are even making the Pope and the Church a laughing stock out of this inaccurate reporting: Look! Stupid Catholics trying to make their religion relevant by changing it to attract us smart folk into their fold… suckers.
        The MSM did a bang up job this time. They pretty much have everyone laughing at the straw man image of the Church they just invented. Ugh. Well, I’m just waiting for the first comment by those who I know me (that I’m a practicing Catholic) and are anti-Catholic. One step forward, two steps back. It was bad enough fending off the wolves from both ends of the spectrum when it came to the Synod on the Family misinformation.

  • Michael

    That Catholic fundie website you link to: “Pope Francis the Destroyer.” Ha! Best. Fanfic. Ever.

    • Joseph

      I’m utterly shocked at how quickly they believe everything that comes out of MSM when they were so quick to dismiss them every time they reported on Pope Benedict XVI!
      One really strange development, however: I was scanning all articles on this and, to my surprise, the *best* one I found was on Breitbart (who, ironically, recently wrapped “Christians” in scare quotes when describing Middle Eastern Catholics). I want to give them kudos but am apprehensive… what’s their motive for being fair?
      Check it out

  • Likewise that dangerous liberal modernist Pius XII in Humani Generis 36: “The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter.”

    • Jared Clark

      And then you have Pope Leo XIII saying that we ought to go with the obvious meaning of Scripture except when reason tells us otherwise, and St. Pius X condemning heresies about creation instead of condemning the theory itself, and Vatican I, called by Bl. Pius IX, did the same before him. So, from Pope Francis today all the way back to Bl. Pius IX (who was pope when “On the Origin of Species” was published), you see a consistent openness to the theory so long as you reject any heresies that people push alongside it.

      • Joseph

        This information will strangely be omitted by the *objective* journalists, of course.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    I’ll see your Thomas Aquinas and raise you a Thomas Aquinas:

    “Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.” — Summa theologica, Part I Q73 A1 reply3

    IOW new species would appear by means of the powers already invested in nature by God.
    Or as the B-16 put it:

    “Creation should be thought of, not according to the model of the craftsman who makes all sorts of objects, but rather in the manner that thought is creative. And at the same time it becomes evident that being-in-movement as a whole (and not just the beginning) is creation…” — Benedict XVI

    IOW, species are four-dimensional and their evolutions over time are simply a part of the same creation, just as a fetus, an infant, an adolescent, and an adult are simply temporal parts of the same four-dimensional being.

  • I started yelling at the TV last night when I heard a newscaster announce the Pope’s “radical departure” on evolution. GAH.

    Fortunately most of the websites I’ve visited today are being sensible about this; Slate even ran an article entitled “Pope’s Progressive Statement on Evolution Is Not Actually a Departure for the Church.”

  • wlinden

    OK. I have people on the Gnostic Cafe asking me about the Washington Post/Religious News Service story which quotes the Pope as saying “God is not a divine being”. I do not for one moment believe he said something so ridiculous… but what was the original, and how did the “translators” foul it up this time? (I would ask GetReligion, but I have been unable to post comments since they went back to their own domain.)

    • Joseph

      Oh my God… Here it is.
      It only gets worse, that translation is even in USA Today. Seriously. Do these people realise that attributing those words to the Pope makes the Pope a heretic? That perhaps they got their translation wrong? What in the hell is wrong with these people. They are really stepping up their game. By the time anyone calls them out on it, the damage will have been done. This is so utterly disappointing and disastrous. I’m hyperventilating thinking about the Evangelical brigade that is going to start ringing me to *save* me from the Catholic cult.

      • wlinden

        It is not just “heretical”. Saying “God is not divine” is SELF-CONTRADICTORY.

        • chezami

          I think it’s pretty obvious what the pope is saying is that God is not magical sprite or elf or Leprechaun. And indeed, he is right to say that God is not “a being”. He’s is not Head Thing at the top of the list of all other things in the universe. He is, rather, Being itself.

          • Dan13

            Yes, it is basic metaphysics. A “divine being” would be Zeus, Thor, etc–a being that exists in the universe with properties greater than humans. Instead, the Pope referred to God as “Creator,” that is, not a powerful being within the universe but rather he who created the universe ex nihilo.

            Some people have translated the Italian to “demiurge,” which perhaps would be less confusing.

            • Jared Clark

              And more accurate. The Italian word actually is “demiurge”, which is a platonic idea of a craftsman that orders the cosmos. Pope Francis is contrasting this with the orthodox belief in creation (that is, creating from nothing rather than just organizing stuff that was already there). While it is true that God is not “a being”, it’s also true that the media absolutely botched the translation.

          • Joseph

            It may be obvious to us… but not to the rest of the anti-Catholic establishment which is having a field day right now. There needs to be a clarification soon to nip this in the bud. Can there be any legal steps against the journalists and their publications who malicoously intended to mislead the public? It’s offensive and insulting what they are implying here.

        • HornOrSilk

          While I believe there is a problem in the translation, nonetheless, even if there were not, it is not heretical nor self-contradictory when understood within the domains of apophatic theology; cf. Pseudo-Dionysius.

          How is He, Who is beyond all, both above “source of Divinity” and above “source of Good”? [It is possible] provided you understand Deity and Goodness as the very Actuality of the Good-making and God-making gift, and the inimitable imitation of the super-divine and super-good (gift), by aid of which we are deified and made good. For, moreover, if this becomes source of the eification and making good of those who are being deified and made good, He, — Who is super-source of every source, even of the so-called Deity and Goodness, seeing He is beyond source of Divinity and source of Goodness, in so far as He is inimitable, and not to be retained — excels the imitations and retentions, and the things which are imitated and those participating.

          • HornOrSilk

            We could also quote his important Mystical Theology:

            ON the other hand, ascending, we say, that It is neither soul, nor mind, nor has imagination, or opinion, or reason, or conception; neither is expressed, nor conceived; either is number, nor order, nor greatness, nor littleness; or equality, nor inequality; nor similarity, nor dissimilarity; either is standing, nor moving; nor at rest; neither as
            power, nor is power, nor light; neither lives, nor is life; neither is essence nor eternity, nor time; neither is Its touch intelligible, neither is It science, nor truth; nor kingdom, nor wisdom; neither one, nor oneness; neither Deity, nor Goodness; nor is It Spirit according to our understanding; nor Sonship, nor Paternity; nor any other thing of those known to us, or to any other existing being; neither is It any of non-existing nor of existing things, nor do things existing know It, as It is; nor does It know existing things, qua existing; neither is there expression of It, nor name, nor knowledge; neither is It darkness, nor light; nor error, nor truth; neither is there any definition at all of It, nor any abstraction.

    • Joseph

      Journalistic integrity… zero, ziltch, nadda, nothing…
      Very depressing.

  • Proteios

    This isn’t really radical, as the Belgian Priest that first proposed the Big Bang Theory (much to the hostility of atheists of the time) nor the many Catholic and protestant scientists haven’t taken issue with the idea that science is a tool to better study the world God created for us. This ‘conflict’ is contrived nonsense. I am under no requirement to “believe” in a literal 6 day creation, based on our modern definition of a single rotation of the earth that wasn’t made yet, than I am limited in scope to think that evolution is just another fundamental process God has employed, like gravity or electromagnetism. The only clash with scientists (Im sad to say) is the hubris that comes with being very smart and innovative and not treating that as a charism from God to be used in God’s service, but rather my own talent to be used to improve my personal situation. That’s the only conflict – one based on sin and storing up your treasures on earth.

  • Elmwood

    I wonder what the reaction will be when the Holy Father’s encyclical on ecology is released which will certainly mention global warming and the fact that the science is consistent: humans are to blame.

    Confronting seriously the problem of global warming requires not only strengthening, deepening and consolidating the political process on a global level, but also intensifying our commitment to a profound cultural renewal and a rediscovery of the fundamental values upon which a better future for the entire human family can be built. The Holy See commits itself to this end, so that, in this work, the international community may be guided by the ethical imperative to act, inspired by the principles of solidarity and the promotion of the common good, in the knowledge that “the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies” (Evangelii Gaudium, 203)

    • Dan13

      It should be fun. The “conservative” Catholics will likely say that Francis doesn’t understand science because he’s not from the Global North. The schismatics and soon-to-be-schismatics will say he’s the anti-christ or an illegitimate Pope or something like that. The secular progressives will say that Pope Francis is breaking with “hidebound” Catholic tradition despite the fact that Pope Benedict was an ardent environmentalist and environmentalism has been part of Catholic social teaching for as long as I can remember.

    • Jakerb25

      As a Catholic I have always been on board with evolution and the big bang. But global warming fears… I am not. From a scientific standpoint there is absolutely no proof or indication that we are heading for disaster. I have tried and tried and the only solid and irrefutable statements that can be made about global warming are 1. that it is happening 2. that it is occurring naturally and extremely slowly. 3. the human impact on global warming via burning fossil fuels is questionable and almost impossible to measure

      that’s just my take. sea levels are the same because 100 year old beaches and beach front homes are still sitting where they always were. many record highs/lows all over the world were recorded decades ago. I just cant get on board with the global warming hysteria. I am disgusted with polluting environments causing harm to animals, deforestation, etc…. but you simply cannot convince me of the global warming impending disaster. I just cant see it. Sorry.

    • Horkan

      Section 203 Evangelii Gaudium does not mention global warming, nor do I know of any statements of Pope Francis that speak of this particular issue. The first part of your passage is from Cardinal Parolin, in a talk to an environmental climate conference, a point that is interesting, but has no magisterial authority. The second part, the words from Pope Francis, deal with the economic system, not environmental legislation.

  • William Hynd

    Give a mechanism that can explain ‘evolution’ and get your Nobel prize. There is no need to accept a theory which was invented as an alternative to God’s creation and has no basis in science. Also Big Bang is in increasing trouble. Two many theoretical entities are required to save it.

    • TeaPot562

      Big Bang is based on astronomical observations and projections by many – observe current locations and motions of many galaxies, some RELATIVELY close, and others far away. Take these locations and motions and determine where they would have been 10 billion, 11 billion & 12 billion years ago. Voila! They all meet at a point a bit more than 13 billion years ago. What are the physical characteristics of the concentration of mass and energy at that time?
      But the Big Bang doesn’t answer the question “HOW did they come to be at that location, with the observed properties?”, to which I like the answer in Genesis 1:2. IMO this meets Occam’s razor. Only one cause is required.

  • Nostromo

    My local big city tv news reported on Pope Francis’ comments amazed that he had accepted the possibilities of the truth of the Big Bang Theory. LOL!
    On the other hand there is truly an amazing amount of ignorance among people that should know better. Who do they think came up with the Big Bang Theory aka singularity?

    • DavidJCCooper

      A priest friend just reminded me that it was a priest who discovered the big bang.


    For those who say that God is not divine are not aware of their statement and are limited in their knowledge about God.Why are people so much interested in involving themselves into issues which are beyond human understanding.God is God and nothing else but God.

  • panickerpondy

    Scientific truths confirm that bible is God’s word.Tell me one statement in bible which is proved wrong based on modern scientific truth.Till today bible agrees with scientific laws and disagree with theories like evolution .science agrees with bible.

    • HornOrSilk

      Well, evolution is a scientific truth (your lack of scientific knowledge is demonstrated by your equivocation of the word theory there). Now, it doesn’t disagree with the Bible, but it disagrees with a poor reading of the Bible.

      • panickerpondy

        Truth is a fact or laws as per science.we are talking about origin of man thru evolution.Tell me when man came into the present stage.where are those missing links.Where are the proofs?these are many questions where supporters of evolution couldn’t answer for centuries including Darwin.science is not bible.God has revealed every thing in the bible,science is revealing the things God has revealed in bible.That is why creation /evolution has got such a confusion.

        • HornOrSilk

          Where is the missing link between you and your father, since you greatly differ from him? When you understand genes, your argument falls apart.

          • panickerpondy

            It is a funny argument.You mean to say that your great great grand father is a monkey.True science doesn’t support that.The entire history of evolution from the evolution of life from non-life to the evolution of vertebrates from invertebrates to the evolution of man from the ape is strikingly devoid of intermediates: the links are all missing in the fossil record, just as they are in the present world.

            • HornOrSilk

              What is a funny argument is your poor reading of Genesis as science and then denying science as science.

              • panickerpondy

                Let’s come to the point.Science is knowledge.bible is the spoken words of God revealed to man when science was in the preliminary stage 3000 years ago.The question is does bible contradict with the scientific facts and truths revealed so far?.if science proves that bible is wrong ,it will cease to be words of God.bible says in the beginning God created heavens and the earth.In the beginning can be any number of years.scientist starts giving us different details from time to time mostly guess work.origin of world and origin of man is a guess work by scientist.that is what it is called theory.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Er, I’m the one who said evolution and the faith do not contradict each other. I’m the one who said poor interpretation of Genesis, which seeks it to be treated like a science text book, is the problem. Seriously, read some science.

                  • panickerpondy

                    You mean faith in believing the theory or faith in God?God and evolution doses not go together.In evolution no space for God and big bang as well.

      • panickerpondy

        Belief in evolution is a remarkable phenomenon. It is a belief passionately defended by the scientific establishment, despite the lack of any observable scientific evidence for macroevolution (that is, evolution from one distinct kind of organism into another). This odd situation is briefly documented here by citing recent statements from leading evolutionists admitting their lack of proof. These statements inadvertently show that evolution on any significant scale does not occur at present, and never happened in the past, and could never happen at all.

        • HornOrSilk

          The “lack of observable evidence” claim shows, once again, you have not studied science. Speciation has been observed, and the predictions of evolution work in medicine.