In an interview with the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano, Gennaro Auletta, professor of Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University has said that the teachings of the Church and Darwinism are not in complete opposition.
Prof. Auletta’s comments were made as the Vatican hosts an international conference, titled, “Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A critical appraisal 150 years after ‘The Origin of Species.’” The summit is a collaberative effort between the University of Notre Dame (USA), the STOQ Project (Science, Technology and Ontological Research) and the Pontifical Council for Culture and lasts until March 7.
The Italian expert asserted that the Church “has never adopted an attitude of condemnation” towards Darwinism.”
“This is one of the many reasons that in my opinion make all the efforts to recover or rehabilitate Darwin superfluous, because neither the Catholic Church nor her most important exponents have ever condemned Darwinism or the theory of evolution,” he said.
“It [Darwinism] has always been given much attention,” Auletta said. “We only need to recall that Cardinal John Henry Newman in England was a clear supporter, since its beginnings, of Darwinism. I would even say that since the famous statement by John Paul II in 1996 we have entered a phase of recognition.”
He went on to recall an article by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn published by the New York Times in 2005 in which he said the “letter (by John Paul II in 1996) cannot be read as an approval of all theories of evolution, including the neo-Darwinian theories that explicitly deny Divine Providence as a protagonist in the development of life in the universe.”
It is worth noting, he said, that the problem is not specifically in the theory of evolution but evolution as a radical ideology, as was pointed out by Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, professor of Natural Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Auletta argued that philosophical reflection now has the task of distinguishing science from theology in relation to Darwinism. “These two perspectives are today often confused,” he stressed.
“We often hear of the incompatibility between Catholicism and the theory of evolution, of the risk of reducing the human being to a blob of cells or to the pure animal dimension, but perhaps these are only myths and the problems are different,” Auletta said.
The Italian expert said he hoped the conference would show that the institutions and universities of the Church “take the theory of evolution very seriously.”