The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture has said that evolutionary theory is “not incompatible” with the teachings of the Catholic Church, insisting that the theory of biological change over time was never condemned by the Church.
Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi made such remarks while presenting the new interdisciplinary conference to mark the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species. The conference, which is a Vatican initiative to promote dialogue between scientists and theologians, is scheduled to take place in Rome in March 2009.
“Evolutionary theory is not incompatible a priori with the teaching of the Catholic Church, with the message of the Bible and theology, and in actual fact it was never condemned,” Archbishop Ravasi said.
He said the theologians, philosophers and scientists are attending the conference not necessarily for the purpose of coming to an agreement, but rather hoping to confirm “the possibility of dialogue and a common desire to interpret reality, albeit from different points of view.”
The prelate remarked that adversarial interpretations of the interaction of religion and science should be avoided, saying:
“We should stop thinking of history as a court of law that is continuously in session but rather concentrate on establishing franker and more efficient dialogue between two points of view that look at the same reality - that of man and his world”
While the Catholic Church has said Darwin’s theory of natural selection is the most probable cause of biological development, Catholic teaching has also emphasized God’s role in creation.
According to ANSA news agency, last September Pope Benedict XVI issued a strong criticism of interpretations of evolutionary theory which hold that the universe is “the random result of evolution and therefore, at bottom, something unreasonable.”