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There is an oft-stated belief that faith and science are in tremendous conflict and simply are not compatible. While evangelical Christians claim creationism as a belief system often gives rise to this idea, the reality is that for the Catholic Church, there is no conflict between faith and science. It is more than possible to hold beliefs in both faith and in science. Each has an important and particular area of expertise.
In fact, many Catholics are surprised that as early as 1950 in the encyclical Humani Generis Pope Pius XII said this: “For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.” Put simply, rational exploration into the theories of evolution is a good endeavor, provided it recognizes the rational soul was created by God in a deliberate act. This teaching has been reinforced by Saint Pope John XXIII, Saint Pope John Paul II (text in Spanish), Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states clearly the Church’s position on evolution.
Moreover, many advances in science were the result of Catholic clerics and others. Gregor Mendel did much study that led to what we know and believe about genetics. Fr. Georges Lamaître first proposed the Big Bang Theory (though I prefer his title the Cosmic Egg) and even with Galileo, the issue was not his science, which the Church accepted, but his venturing into teaching theology. In the midst of this pandemic, we have seen how nations working together with scientists can use reason to produce methods of treatment and prevention of diseases. We must recognize the profound need to be equitable in the research and results of these scientific advances, so that all people on earth, not just those who live in wealthy countries have access to effective vaccines and treatments. As we continue this Rosary Marathon, let us pray for all scientists and medical research institutions.
Today’s Intention: For all scientists and medical research institutions.