Pope Francis on evolution: no surprises for Catholics

Pope Francis on evolution: no surprises for Catholics

A recent statement by Pope Francis I has generated controversy and debate over whether the idea of evolution has a place in religion.

Last Monday, speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis made a seemingly controversial statement that sparked lots of media buzz: he said that God is not a magician, but he is the Creator of life. In addition, the pope said that evolution and creationism do not contradict each other, because “evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

Several media members have seen this statement as surprising, as it seemingly confirmed that the Catholic Church supports the controversial theory of evolution.

For UTM senior and lifelong Catholic Laura Miller, however, the pope’s statements were not surprising in the least.

“The Catholic position [is such that] it’s not mutually exclusive to believe in both [science and religion],” said Miller.

Miller added that at an early age, she was taught that believing in the theory of evolution and the Big Bang Theory did not conflict with being a Catholic.

Colin Johnson, a fellow UTM senior and lifelong Catholic, added that although he welcomed the official statement, the sentiments expressed were things that he has been taught his whole life.

“So many people think the church is in opposition to anything scientific, or up to date with the times,” he said. “That’s not true. …All Pope Francis has ever done this whole entire time is just reaffirm the teachings of the Church.”

Both Miller and Johnson agreed that the media’s coverage of Pope Francis’s recent statements has been flawed.

“The media is acting like what Pope Francis has been saying is so radically different, when it’s not,” said Miller.

Father Dennis Schenkel, current priest at St. Jude Catholic Church and director of the UTM’s Catholic Student Organization, also agreed that the media had taken liberties in their coverage of the Pope’s recent statements.

“My honest reaction [to the media coverage of Pope Francis’s recent statements] was ‘How is this a news story?’ and ‘Why do the people in the media not know this already?’,’” Schenkel said. “Popes have been saying this for a while. Evolution is not inconsistent with Christianity.”

Father Schenkel addressed the discrepancy between the theory of evolution and the Biblical account of the world being created in six days.

“We believe the Bible to be infallibly inspired by God,” he said. “The intention of the people who wrote the Bible was to describe to the people how to have a good relationship with God.” Schenkel also said that the main focus of Catholicism is not the word-for-word account the Bible gives but the deeper meanings that lie under the surface level of these stories. In addition, members of the Catholic faith re-evaluate their interpretation of scripture if it contradicts nature.

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