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Neo-Scholastics in the Vatican
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Pope Leo XIII.111 Pope Leo XIII was the papal founder of the Neo-Scholastic movement in philosophy and ruled as the Roman Catholic pope in Rome from 1878 to 1903. The pope wisely promoted liberty among the Catholic schools. Duns Scotus had a following among the Franciscans and others. Suarez had a following among the Jesuits and others. However, Pope Leo XIII recommended St. Thomas’ doctrine, especially against modern errors such as Rationalism and Modernism.

Pope Leo XIII gave his reasons for endorsing St. Thomas. In Aeterni Patris, he notes that the authority of St. Thomas arises from its intrinsic value. Further, in the same encyclical the pope notes that the authority of St. Thomas is acknowledged doctrine by all doctors of philosophy and theology.

Pope Pius X (1912).112 Pope Pius X endorsed the Neo-Scholastic movement in philosophy and theology and ruled as the Roman Catholic pope in Rome from 1903 to 1914. He studied the classics, philosophy, and theology at the University of Padua. His continued studies were of St. Thomas Aquinas in a special way. In education, he promulgated a new plan of seminary study to strengthen the clergy. In politics, this pope was opposed by secular governments, and the (illegal) annexation of the papal territories by Italy was not yet a settled question.

Pope Pius X dealt with an alleged evolution in philosophy. Modernism was a relativistic theory that tried to assimilate modern philosophers, like Kant, into Church philosophy and theology, much in the same way that Aristotelian philosophy was absorbed by the scholastics of the Middle Ages. Evolution entered the discussion since the Modernists justified their relativism with the idea that beliefs in the Church have evolved throughout its history and continue to evolve. The pope and the Anti-Modernists viewed these notions as contrary to the dogmas and traditions of the Catholic Church. The pope countered Modernism with several encyclicals, an order for all clerics to take an oath against Modernism, and the formation of an Anti-Modernism network of informants, the League of Pius V (Sodalitium Pianum).

Pope Pius X took such an aggressive stand against Modernism that there were disruptions in scholarship. Although only about forty clerics refused to take the oath against Modernism, Catholic scholarship with relativistic tendencies was substantially discouraged. Philosophers and theologians who wished to pursue lines of inquiry considered to be in line with Secularism, Modernism, or Relativism had to stop publication and teaching, or face some conflict with the papacy.

Pope Pius X was a liberal for social justice. In the light of the fact that some Neo-Scholastics were social activists, it is important to examine the papal record on social justice. Social teaching in the Catholic Church began early with Pope Pius IX (1864) and the trend was reinforced by Pope Leo XII and Pope Pius X. The papal documents were not alien to scholastic philosophy, because general moral philosophy gave ethical principles and special moral philosophy gave application of those principles to domestic, social, political, and international life. We have seen this trend in Neo-Scholastic philosophy previously with the Calcagno, Gonzalez, and especially with Cathrein who wrote in 1895. The same trend was developing with papal teaching about workers and social equality. Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Letter Quanta Cura (8 December 1964), wrote about the prevailing social errors of the day and how scholastic ethical teaching could remedy those problems. This began a trend of papal concern about social questions. Pope Leo XII wrote the Encyclical Letter Quod Apostolici Muneris (28 December 1878) about Socialism; the Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum (15 May 1891) about the condition of workers; the Encyclical Letter Graves de Communi (18 January 1901) about Christian democracy. More directly to civil society and social justice, Pope Leo XIII wrote the Encyclical Letter Diuturnum (29 June 1881) on political authority; the Encyclical Letter Immortale Dei (1 November 1885) on the nature of civil society; the Encyclical Letter Libertas (28 June 1988) on false liberty; and the Encyclical Letter Sapientiae Christianae (10 January 1870) on the duties of the Christian citizen. Pope Pius X continued this trend of social concern into the twentieth century. Pope Pius X wrote the Encyclical Letter Singulari Quaedam (24 September 1912) about associations of Catholic workers, and approved the Response of the Sacred Congregation of the Council to the Bishop of Jerusalem (5 May 1929) affirming the right of workers to unionize.

Pope Benedict XV (1918)113 Pope Benedict XV gave the Neo-Scholastic movement a legal basis in the new 1918 Code of Canon Law, and made Neo-Scholastic philosophy and theology obligatory in all Catholic seminaries. He ruled as Roman Catholic pope in Rome from 1914 to 1922.

Pope Pius XI (1922).114 Pope Pius XI was trained in the seminary as a Neo-Scholastic and ruled as the Roman Catholic pope in Rome from 1922 to 1939.

Pope Pius XI promoted Neo-Scholasticism. Pope Pius XI in his Encyclical Letter Studiorum Ducem (1923) confirmed Neo-Scholasticism and the study of St. Thomas Aquinas. The Apostolic Constitution Deus Scienciarum Dominus (14 May 1931) legislated that philosophy faculties should teach scholastic philosophy, in a synthesis of the doctrine, principles, and method of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is from this Neo-Scholastic and Thomistic view that Modern Philosophy should be systematically examined and judged.

Pope Pius XI also encouraged science. The study of natural science for those training for the priesthood had been in place for several hundred years. Such a course was an integral part of studies for those preparing for the priesthood. Further, the popes encouraged science by fostering the Academia dei Lincei, founded by laity in 1603. It was the first academy of science in the modern sense. It was founded by Prince Cesi, who invited Galileo to membership in 1610. Pope Pius IX gave the academy a new constitution in 1847. Pope Leo XIII enlarged the membership in 1847. Pope Pius XI in the Motu Propirio In Multis Solatiis gave the academy a new constitution and enlarged its membership to 70 members from every nation and religion.

Pope Pius XI touched evolution. He wanted the Academy of the Lincei, which later became the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, to explore the existence of God, and God’s creative power.

Pope Pius XI taught that there was no contradiction between faith and reason. They should mutually assist each other. The First Vatican Council, as early as under Pius IX (1846-1878), proclaimed this in Session Three (24 April 1870) in the Dogmatic Constitution De Fide Catholica: "About the Mutual Relation of Faith and Reason, and the Just Liberty of Science: Not only can faith and reason never disagree between themselves, but they can also be a mutual help for each other, since right reason demonstrates the foundations of faith and by the light of reason the science of divine things is carefully uncovered, and faith liberates reason from errors, and guards and instructs human reason with much knowledge." Pope Pius XI confirmed this in his Motu Proprio In Multis Solatiis (1936): Acta Apostolicae Sedis 28 (1936), 421: "Science as a true understanding of reality can never contradict the truths of the Catholic faith."

Pope Pius XI promoted social justice. Under this pope we see a continuing trend of concern for social justice, just as some of the Neo-Scholastic philosophers turned to activism. Pope Pius XI wrote the Encyclical Letter Quardigesimo Anno (15 May 1931) about the restoration of the social order by social justice. Pope Pius XI wrote the Encyclical Letter Divini Redemptoris (19 March 1937) against atheistic communism. Two more general documents by Pope Pius XI that treat man and society, social evils, and Christian social doctrine as a remedy for social evil are: the Encyclical Letter Ubi Arcano (23 December 1922) on the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ; and the Encyclical Letter Caritate Christi Compulsi (3 May 1932) about the current evils in society.

Pope Pius XII (1943).115 Pope Pius XII was trained in the seminary as a Neo-Scholastic and ruled as the Roman Catholic pope in Rome from 1939 to 1958.

Pope Pius XII treated the fact of evolution as scientifically unresolved. In 1941, the pope addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences noting that research in many areas, be it in paleontology, biology, or morphology on the problems concerning the origin of man have not, as yet, ascertained anything with certainty; so it must be left to the future to answer the question, if indeed science will one day be able, enlightened and guided by revelation, to give certain and definitive results concerning a topic of such importance.

Pope Pius XII treated Evolutionism in his Encyclical Letter Humani Generis (12 August 1950). The presentation of the pope is helpful for this dissertation in its clear opposition to Evolutionism that involves Mechanicism, Dialectical Materialism, Monism, and Communism. The pope also opposes Evolutionism that involves Idealism, Immanentism, Pragmatism, Historicism, Relativism, or Existentialism as a life philosophies, and Pantheism. Pope Pius XIII notes that the fact of evolution as not been definitively proved. Further, Pope Pius XII opposes the supposition that evolution is a universal, causal, cosmic law; the pope notes that this is not a valid inference from any known series of natural facts or laws established by science. The pope opposed abiogenesis. The pope opposed the continued evolution of the world. The pope opposed godless evolution. The pope opposed social evolution implicit in Historicism and Dialectical Communism.

Pope Pius XII treated evolution and man. The body of man could have evolved. The soul of man could never have evolved. The Church does not forbid discussion or research on the doctrine of evolution about the origin of the human body from pre-existing material.

Pope Pius XII approved the wisdom and teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas (Pope Pius XII, Sermon Sollemnis Conventus, 1939). Pope Pius XII also praised both Aquinas and scholasticism and Aquinas in Humani Generis (1950).

Pope Pius XII often noted the unity between science and philosophy; that science is advantageous and necessary for science; and there has to be mutual understanding and cooperation between science and philosophy (Forth International Thomistic Congress, Opening Session, 14 September 1955). Pope Pius XII also noted that science needs a sound philosophy (Pope Pius XII, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Scnieces, 1955). In Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII that the evolution of the human body be "treated in research and discussion by experts on both sides" according to the present state of human disciplines and sacred theology.

Pope Pius XII endorsed democracy in a world-wide radio message (Pope Pius XII, Christmas Vigil Radio Message, 24 December 1944).

Pope Pius XII, in several other documents in a more general way, treated man and society, with the Christian social doctrine and the Catholic religion as a remedy for social evils. Pope Pius XII, in the Encyclical Letter Summi Pontificatus (20 October 1939), treated prevailing social errors of this age. Pope Pius XII, in his Christmas Vigil Radio Message (24 December 1955), treated true serenity and social peace.

Pope Pius XII wrote about social questions and the distribution of material goods. The Radio Message on the Fiftieth Anniversary of "Rerum Novarum" (1 June 1941) treated the just distribution of material goods. Pope Pius XII, Christmas Vigil Radio Message (24 December 1942) about the international social order of nations. Pope Pius XII, Allocution to Italian Workers (13 June 1943) about peace and collaboration of the social classes. Pope Pius XII, Radio Message on the Opening of the Fifth Year of War (1 September 1949) about Christian civilization. Pope Pius XII, Allocution to the Members of ACLI (11 March 1945) about ethics in Christian unionism. Pope Pius XII, Allocution to Catholic Business Owners (7 May 1949) about ethics in business. Pope Pius XII, Allocution to the Participants in the International Convention of Social Studies (3 June 1950) about ethics in business. Pope Pius XII, Christmas Vigil Radio Message (24 December 1953) on technological progress. Pope Pius XII, Allocution to the Poor and Homeless (3 May 1957) about poverty.

Pope John XXIII (1961).116 Pope John XXIII was trained in the seminary as a Neo-Scholastic and ruled as the Roman Catholic pope in Rome from 1958 to 1963. He called the Second Vatican Council but did not live to see its completion. Pope John XXIII promulgated two significant encyclicals: Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra (20 May 1961) on the evolution of society in the light of Christian teaching, and Pope John XXIII Pacem in Terris (11 April 1963) on peace among all nations, which looks to the next phase in the evolution of world politics in which there is an obvious need for public authority.

Pope John XXIII treats social evolution. Mater et Magistra views social evolution as determined by man’s own free will. There is no hint of some deterministic force in society or in individual men. The pope endorses education for social responsibility. Catholics should sponsor social education. Secular persons are responsible for social action. Catholic social action is necessary. Intelligent adaptation is necessary between economic growth and social progress. Economic structures must adjust to human dignity. Cooperation must be on a world basis.

Pope John XXIII treats the evolution of world politics. Pacem in Terris views political evolution as determined by the free will of mankind acting for the common good. Some public authority is necessary for world peace. World authority needs to protect human rights. Governments need to be ordered to bring about the common good. However, the common good is not just the obligation of governments but also of citizens. Hence, there is little evolutionary determinism in the pope’s encyclical. All men have the duty to act responsibly. There is a necessary connection between rights and duties. Authority must be authentically democratic. Human rights include: economic rights, right to a decent life, right to free religious practice, right of residence and immigration, rights of ethnic minorities, right to reputation, and the right to culture.

Pope Paul VI (1966).117 Pope Paul VI was trained in the seminary as a Neo-Scholastic and ruled as the Roman Catholic pope in Rome from1963 to 1978.

Pope Paul VI treated evolution. He was concerned about the human soul and human dignity. Concerning the soul, the pope pointed out that any application of the theory of evolution becomes unacceptable when it fails to affirm very clearly the immediate and direct creation by God of each and every human soul. By virtue of the soul the whole person possesses great dignity.

Pope Paul VI stressed essential harmony between science and religion. In the prelude to his monumental profession of faith, Pope Paul VI maintained that the sciences study what is visible, God has given man an intellect to attain reality. This is the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, in the document Gaudium et Spes (7 December 1965) approved by Pope Paul VI. The council affirmed the legitimate authority of science, and maintained that faith and science were not opposed.

Pope Paul VI also taught about the social order. The pope viewed human beings as free to build their own better future. Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio (26 March 1967) treats the necessity of promoting the growth of nations. Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens ( 14 May 1971), on the eightieth anniversary of the social encyclical Rerum Novarum about the condition of workers, taught that the pope desired to continue and expand the social teaching of the Church so that the Church could walk united with humanity and in solidarity with human dreams to realize the fulness of man’s aspirations.

Pope John Paul II (1985).118 Pope John Paul II was trained in the seminary as a Neo-Scholastic and ruled as the Roman Catholic pope in Rome from 1978 to 2005.

Pope John Paul II treated evolution in Discourse to the Symposium: Christian Faith and Evolution (26 April 1985). The pope recognizes evolution as a paradigm of a scientific theory which touches many different disciplines, among which are: physics, biology, paleontology, and sociology. The pope notes that in the nineteenth century the evolutionists promoted Materialism, but today there is more openness and better hope for dialogue. Science and faith are not antagonistic but each has its own method. The pope accepts (1985) evolution that presupposed creation, a continuous creation (creatio continua) by which God is visible to the eyes of faith. There are some limits mentioned by the pope. Science and faith are separate, since it is faith that teaches morals. Science and philosophy are separate. Pope Paul II endorses the principle of finality and the principle of sufficient reason. Unfortunately, in the popular media evolution is presented as philosophy, as if philosophy were a conclusion of science. The mixing of science and philosophy creates confusion.

Pope John Paul II treated evolution in the Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (22 October 1996), originally given in French. The pope affirmed the correctness of Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis to call evolution a scientific theory. Pope John Paul II adds that new knowledge allows us to consider that evolution is "more" than a hypothesis. This is the way that the French was translated into Italian ("more than an hypothesis") for publication in L’Osservatore Romano, 24 October 1996, page six. However, ("more than one hypothesis") was the translation of the French into the English edition of the same L’Osservatore Romano. This caused some controversy. In the end, the pope wanted the scientific community to know that evolution was more than just a hypothesis, but had more weight to its evidence today. Hypothesis represents the preliminary stage of the scientific method, with a corresponding lower degree of certitude. Nevertheless, a scientific theory, by its very nature is still open to verification, correction and refinement. Of course, regarding the empirical fact of evolution, there is no absolute demonstration because the process can only be checked indirectly. The second major thesis of this document (22 October 1996) was that there is an ontological difference between man and the animals.

Pope John Paul II treated the extrinsic difficulty of treating evolution. The pope pointed out (22 October 1996) that rather than speaking about the theory of evolution, it is more accurate to speak of the theories of evolution, since there are many. The use of the plural is required here partly because of the diversity of explanations regarding the mechanism of evolution, and partly because of the diversity of philosophies, such as Materialist, Reductionist, and Spiritualist, involved in interpreting evolution.

Pope John Paul II explained (General Audience, April 1986) that what is more consonant with Christian tradition is "programmed creation" which may be called evolution of a species which was then used by God to create man. This idea of the evolution of man’s body would present no difficulty from the viewpoint of faith, the pope said. The human body could have been prepared for in preceding living beings. When the proto-human arrived at a point where it was prepared to receive a soul, God would infuse the soul, either into an embryo or into an adult member of the species. At the same time God modified the genetic structure of the proto-human under consideration, so that it could accept the soul and become a human being. In this way the genetic structure of the new being was partly inherited from the inferior being and partly due to direct divine intervention. The possibility of this kind of origin of the body of man can be termed probable, according to the pope, but is not a scientific certainty. Science cannot verify this theory.

Pope John Paul II urged a complete understanding of evolution by including providence. While a complete understanding of evolution must take into account the effects of the environment and genetic modifications, that complete understanding must include the power of providence guiding created beings through the laws inscribed on them. Blind chance cannot be responsible for co-ordinated developments which give rise to complex biological structures like the eye or ear; in fact, the cell itself, the very basis of life, is exceedingly complex. Evolution can be thought of as a kind of "programmed creation," in which God has written into creatures the laws for evolution; in this way a clear link can be seen between the action of God at the beginning and His constant providence. The Christian idea of providence is radically different from chance, said Pope John Paul II in his Discourse at the General Audience (14 May 1986). It is precisely Divine Providence as the transcendent wisdom of the Creator that makes the world a cosmos rather than a chaos.

Pope John Paul II treated the paradox of man (22 October 1996). Man is a real paradox and needs to be seen on three levels, science, metaphysics and theology. Science observes and measures and writes the time line of man, but the moment of evolutionary passing to human is not available to science. Metaphysics deals with the very precious signs of the specific being of humanity: moral conscience, liberty, esthetics, and religion. This is an area of philosophical analysis. Theology seeks the ultimate design of man by the Creator. Every theme about evolution leaves perplexity, shadow and doubt. Science, theology and philosophy are limited. There is a mysterious paradoxical reality, which Pope John Paul II calls "the ontological difference."

Pope John Paul II promoted social justice. Pope John Paul II, Message for the 2003 World Day of Peace (8 December 2002) praised the Encyclical Letter of Pope John XXIII Pacem in Terris as prophetic because it looked at the new phase of evolution in world politics, and evolution directed by the free will of man toward the common good. This pope was just as concerned about social justice as his predecessors. Pope John Paul II wrote Laborem Exercens (14 September 1981) on the value of human work, commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum. Pope John Paul II wrote Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (30 December 1987) confirming the social teaching and the values in Populorum Progressio on the 20th anniversary of that encyclical. Pope John Paul II wrote Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991) again confirming the social teaching and ethical values on the centenary of the encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Pope John Paul II rejected ideological manipulation. Pope John Paul II rejected, in his Discourse to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 31 October 1992) rushing to a conclusion, and exclusively in the framework of science (Scientism). Pope John Paul II also rejected, in Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution, 22 October 1996) any evolutionist ideologies which regard the spirit either emerging from the forces of living matter (Materialism), or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter (Modified Materialism, so that consciousness arises from matter).

Joseph Ratzinger (1986).119 Joseph Ratzinger was trained in the seminary as a Neo-Scholastic philosophy and theology. He also taught theology. At the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was obligated to watch for deviations in theology. That traditional theology was, in large part, the theology handed down through the scholastics and especially St. Thomas.

Ratzinger, before his papal election, preached a Lenten series of talks in 1981. He spoke on the first chapters of the Book of Genesis. He connected catechesis with creation. He noted the Bible is not a book of science. He distinguished between the inspired message and the biblical literary form. He notes that the pagan philosopher Aristotle refuted the position of the Atomists that everything came into existence automatically, that is by chance. His talks were put into book form. In that book, Creazione e Peccato, Ratzinger notes that evolution and creation are answers to two different questions which are mutually complimentary.

Ratzinger, as Cardinal, asked advice on evolution. He consulted with the renowned Jesuit, Father Vittorio Marcozzi. Marcozzi maintained that there were at least three phases in which God’s intervention is necessary and evident. First, God must intervene at the appearance of life, that is, when the first living organisms appear. Second, God must intervene when God imbues these organisms with evolutionary possibilities. Third, God must intervene at the coming of man, whose spiritual qualities implicate God’s special intervention. Thus, the Church does not exclude the chemical origin of life, but some special divine intervention, even using evolutionary causes, cannot be excluded in the passage from inanimate matter to living being. Marcozzi also noted that man is the apex of creation. Man is essentially distinct from all other animals.

Ratzinger, as Cardinal, gave the ecclesiastical permission to print the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) when he was Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. He notes that throughout history man has been a "religious being," since in belief and prayer, in meditation, sacrifice and ritual (n. 28). The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final goal, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end (n. 34). The studies about the origin of the world and man have enriched our knowledge, invite us to admire the greatness of our Creator, and lead us to reject Dualism, Gnosticism, Deism, and Materialism (n. 283 et seq.). The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Most Blessed Trinity (n. 260).

Ratzinger, as Cardinal, treated the evolution of the human body. Ratzinger gave the ecclesiastical permission to print the Catechism of the Catholic Church, specifically number 364: "The human body shares in the dignity of the image of God: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit." The hypothesis of the evolution of man’s body and the direct creation of man’s soul cannot be checked by observation or scientific investigation. Perhaps, some Catholic thinkers might prefer the even the first human body, in its totality, was the result of direct divine intervention without any influence of evolution. But it is not so easy to declare the creation of the first man’s body is simply a creation out of nothing, since the Scriptures refer to man’s formation from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2: 7). Even if the precise link between what is the contribution of evolutionary process in the creation of man’s body and what is due to divine intervention remains a mystery, God is nevertheless ultimately responsible for the creation of the whole Adam and the whole Eve. It is crucial to recall that the image of God is found in the body as well as the soul (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 364).

Ratzinger, as Cardinal, holds monogenism. Twice in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 28 and n. 360), Ratzinger quotes the Acts of the Apostles 17: 26-28: "From one ancestor, God made all nations to inhabit the whole earth." This quotation strongly suggests a reference to one person, not a plurality. That the Catholic Catechism refers to a single person is confirmed in the footnote of number 360 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which cites Tobit 8: 6, "You it was who created Adam, you who created Eve his wife to be his help and support, and from these two the human race was born." Thus, the "one ancestor" could only be Adam. Accordingly, monogenism (one Adam) is certainly a safer position than polygenism (many Adams). The Catechism of the Catholic Church effectively teaches the polygenism is not compatible with the Catholic Tradition. Further, from the natural sciences it is impossible to affirm that humanity had a polygenetic beginning.

Pope Benedict XVI (2006).120 Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope and took the name Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

Pope Benedict XVI addressed the issue of evolution in talks. He mentioned evolution during the homily of his pontificate’s inaugural Mass on 24 April 2005: "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary." A second reference to evolution occurred on 6 April 2006 in a talk to young people who came to St. Peter’s Square in anticipation of World Youth Day: "Science presupposes the trustworthy, intelligent structure of matter, the ‘design’ of creation."

Pope Benedict XVI gave a private seminar on evolution to his former theology students at Castel Gandolfo on the 2nd and 3rd of September 2006. One of the documents presented is the article by Fiorenzo Facchini, priest and scientist, published in L’Osservatore Romano on 16 January 2006. One of the two speakers was Christoph Cardinal Schnborn, a theologian close to Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Schnborn seems to have embraced the theory of "intelligent design" in an article published by the New York Times on 7 July 2005.

Pope Benedict XVI was against ideology. The pope is also against Concordism (denying principles for the sake of unity). In the present world, the pope maintains, in Creazione e Peccato, a certain convergence between science and revelation. For example, theologians hold the temporality of the universe, and now it appears that this is supported by the Big Bang Theory and also by the Thermodynamic Theory of Entropy. Another example is theologians holding some harmony and design in the universe, and now this appears to be supported by Albert Einstein and Fred Hoyle. Ideology still exists in the area of evolution, since Jacques Monod believes that the scientific method forces him to view order in nature as the fruit of blind chance in response to the word "God."

CONCLUSION: The importance of the conclusions from the popes is enhanced by their position as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. These popes are Neo-Scholastic by their seminary training. In general, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has been very open and positive to scientific developments concerning the theory of evolution. Pope Pius XII endorsed (12 August 1950) metaphysics and its principles of causality, finality, and sufficient reason. Pope John Paul II noted (22 October 1996) the paradox of man, which can only be understood by the convergence of science, philosophy and theology.

Conclusions from the popes touched evolution. On 30 November 1941, Pope Pius XII told the Pontifical Academy Sciences that despite much research, the problem of the origin of man was not resolved, but it was an important problem. Since, in his 1941 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Pius XII locates man at the summit of the scale of the living, endowed with a spiritual soul, and placed by God as prince and sovereign over the animal kingdom, he would maintain an essential difference between man and the other animals. Pope John Paul II also noted an ontological difference between man and the other animals (22 October 1996). Cardinal Ratzinger, before becoming pope, was told of the essential difference between man and the animals.

Conclusions from the popes touches some opposition, not directly to evolution as such, but to various philosophies attached to evolution. Pope Pius XII wrote the Encyclical Letter Humani Generis (1950). In it, Pope Pius XII was against Historicism, Mechanism, Materialism; he noted that the body of man could evolve; the soul of man could not have evolved but was directly created. Pope Pius XII notes the Bible teaches man’s goal is to attain his eternal salvation. Pope Pius XII is against Evolutionism as a universal law, against atheistic evolution, and against a perpetually evolving world. The pope is against social evolution implicit in Historicism. Pope John Paul II was also against nineteenth-century evolutionary Materialism (26 April 1985).

Conclusions from the popes show an openness about the possibility of the evolution of the body of man, as long as man evolved from already existing and living material. This was affirmed by Pope Paul II, who noted that from the point of view of religion, there is no difficulty in explaining the origin of the body of man by means of the hypothesis of evolution.

Conclusions of the popes concerning the soul of man touch its spirituality. Pope Pius XII

states the soul could not have evolved but is directly created by God. Pope John Paul II states that the human soul, upon which the humanity of man depends, is spiritual, and is not able to be immersed in matter. This non-immersion in matter essentially separates man from all the other animals.

Conclusions from the popes touch the mode of evolution. Pope John Paul II explained (General Audience, April 1986) that what is more consonant with Christian tradition is "programmed creation" which may be called evolution of a species which was then used by God to create man. When the proto-human arrived at a point where it was prepared to receive a soul, God would infuse the soul. At the same time God modified the genetic structure of the proto-human under consideration, so that it could accept the soul and become a human being. In this way the genetic structure of the new being was partly inherited from the inferior being and partly due to direct divine intervention. Science cannot verify this.

Conclusions from the popes support the view that there is no contradiction between science and religion. The First Vatican Council solemnly taught that faith and reason can never contradict each other, and they should mutually assist one another. Pius XI in his Motu Proprio In Multis Solaciis (1937) notes that same theme. The Second Vatican Council, under Pope Paul VI, in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes (7 December 1965) confirms that faith and science are not mutually opposed. Pope Paul VI taught the essential harmony between science and religion: Pope Paul VI, Credo of the People of God (30 June 1968). Pope John Paul II maintained that science and faith are not antagonistic, but each have their own method (26 April 1985).

Conclusions from the popes support the free exploration of scientific questions by competent scientists. The origin of the Papal Academy of Sciences was the initiative of laymen, but it was given a new constitution by Pius IX, enlarged by Pope Leo XIII, enlarged to 70 members from every nation by Pope Pius XI. Pope Pius XII wanted philosophical questions to be basic and current (Pope Pius XII, Fourth International Thomistic Congress, 14 September 1955).

Conclusions from the popes support dialogue between science and philosophy. Pope Pius XII not only noted the relationship between scientific experimentation and philosophy, but often noted the unity of science and philosophy ( Pope Pius XII, Fourth International Thomistic Congress, 14 September 1955). Science needs a sound philosophy (Pope Pius XII, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 1955). Pope Pius XII, in Humani Generis, noted that the origin of the body of man by evolution could be treated in research and discussion by experts in the natural sciences and in theology. Pope John Paul II affirmed science and philosophy are separate, and to mix them causes confusion (26 April 1985). Pope John Paul II promoted interdisciplinary dialogue between the natural sciences, philosophy and theology. Pope John Paul II, advised by Cardinal Ratzinger, in the Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) notes a fragmentation of knowledge that not only makes research difficult, but man himself begins to have a fragmented view of himself, and even ends by not recognizing himself as fragmented.

Conclusions that the popes supported Neo-Scholastic philosophy involve the foundation of Neo-Scholasticism by Pope Leo XIII. The usefulness of Neo-Scholasticism was endorsed by Pope Pius X against Modernism. Pope Benedict XVI mandated the teaching of Neo-Scholastic philosophy and theology by the legislation in the new Code of Canon Law. Pius XI continued the trend of support for Neo-Scholasticism. Pope Pius XII commended St. Thomas.

Conclusions from the popes support avoidance of ideology. Pope Pius XII, in Humani Generis, does not want man to led by ideology. Pope John Paul II rejected ideological manipulation. Pope John Paul II rejected (31 October 1992) rushing to a conclusion, and exclusively in the framework of science (Scientism). Pope John Paul II also rejected (22 October 1996) any evolutionist ideologies which regard the spirit either emerging from the forces of living matter (Materialism), or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter (Modified Materialism, so that consciousness arises from matter).

Conclusions from the popes support human dignity, especially Pope Pius XII condemning war, addressing the ethics of both workers and business owners, promoting unions, stating concerns about technology, and addressing the poor and the homeless. Pope Pius XII, on 30 November 1941, noted in his presentation to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that man was placed by God in the top grade in the scale of living beings. Pope John XXIII affirms human dignity in the entire Encyclical Letter Mater et Magistra, and especially in number 82 of that document. Pope John XXIII also affirms human dignity in the Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris (11 April 1963) by teaching the duties of government for the common good (number 60) and endorsing a charter of human rights (number 75). Pope John Paul II explained (1996) two reasons why the teaching authority of the Church is interested in theories of evolution: first, because evolution impacts man who is the image and likeness of God, and secondly because man’s loving relationship with God will find its full expression at the end of time, in eternity (Aquinas Summa Theologiae 1-2. 3. 5 ad 1). Cardinal Ratzinger, before becoming pope, was told that man is the apex of creation.

Conclusions for social action and social justice are positive in a trend from Pope Pius IX to Pope Leo XIII, for many writings on social justice. This trend continued in Pope Pius X in approval for unions for workers. This trend continued under Pope Pius XI for a new order with social justice, and the condemnation of atheistic communism. Pope Pius XII delivered four addresses and four world radio messages about the distribution of material goods and social questions. Pope John XXIII issued Encyclical Letter Mater et Magistra (5 May 1961) and Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio (11 April 1963) to promote social justice in the world. Pope John Paul II affirmed (8 December 2002) that another encyclical of Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, was prophetic in that it looked to the next phase of evolution in world politics, and that one of the consequences of this evolution was the obvious need for a public authority.

Conclusions from the popes affirm God in creation. Pope John Paul II on 26 April 1985 says that evolution presupposes creation by God, and by a continuous creation (creatio continua).

Cardinal Ratzinger, even before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, sought advice on God’s place in evolution, and was told God must be present in abiogenesis, in evolutionary orientation of creation, and in the evolution of man.

Author:  John Edward Mulvihill, S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.
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