Vatican recognizes 'scientific realities'
The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
A Vatican cardinal said Tuesday that the Catholic Church did not stand in the
way of scientific realities like evolution, though he described as "absurd" the
atheist notion that evolution proves there is no God.
Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, reiterated church teaching about faith and science at the start of a
Vatican-sponsored conference marking the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's
"The Origin of Species."
Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Levada said the Vatican believed
there was a "wide spectrum of room" for belief in both the scientific basis for
evolution and faith in God the creator.
"We believe that however creation has come about and evolved, ultimately God is
the creator of all things," he said.
He said that while the Vatican did not exclude any area of science, it did
reject as "absurd" the atheist notion of biologist and author Richard Dawkins
and others that evolution proves there is no God.
"Of course we think that's absurd and not at all proven," he said. "But other
than that the Vatican has recognized that it doesn't stand in the way of
The Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI has been trying to stress its belief that
there is no incompatibility between faith and reason, and the five-day
conference at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University is a key demonstration of
its efforts to engage with the scientific community.
Church teaching holds that Catholicism and evolutionary theory are not
necessarily at odds. But the Vatican's position became somewhat confused in
recent years, in part because of a 2005 New York Times op-ed piece written by a
close Benedict collaborator, the Austrian cardinal Christoph Schönborn.
In the piece, Schönborn seemed to reject traditional church teaching and back
intelligent design, the view that life is too complex to have developed through
evolution alone, and that a higher power has had a hand in changes among
species over time.
Vatican officials later made clear they did not believe intelligent design was
science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms
only created confusion.
The evolution conference will explore intelligent design later this week,
although not as science or theology but as a cultural phenomenon.
In his remarks, Levada referred to both Dawkins and the debate over teaching
creationism in schools in the United States. He declined to pinpoint the
Vatican's views, saying merely: "The Vatican listens and learns."
Pope plans Mass in Nazareth
The mayor of Nazareth said Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate a public Mass there
when he visits the Holy Land in May, The Associated Press reported from
Ramiz Jeraisi said the Mass would take place in the town of Jesus' boyhood on