In this post I would like to take the time to clarify myself on some issues. You see, it seems I was not clear enough on a couple of topics I addressed in previous posts. After that, I would like to briefly clarify myself on what Pope Francis said in his interview with the media on his way back to Vatican City from WYD in Rio.
Some time ago I posted a blog against atheistic evolution. This post was written in response to the numerous atheists who were assaulting Catholicism’s position regarding evolution on Twitter. It appears that even many Catholics are confused about the Church’s stance on evolution. Since my previous post does not seem to have cleared things up enough, please, allow me to address it further here.
When people speak of evolution there is a tendency to assume Darwinian Evolution is being spoken of. There are those who don’t seem to realize that there are around 57 different types of evolution. So when someone speaks about evolution, it is a good idea to find out what type of evolution he/she is talking about. I don’t wish to address the different types of evolution here. I only wish to give a more general view of the Catholic position on evolution.
As far as whether or not the Catholic Church actually supports the idea of evolution, the answer is yes and no. There is no denying that creatures do evolve. Over time, viruses and bacteria evolve to become immune to our medications. That is why new vaccinations for Flu come out almost every year. The Flu virus evolves to be resistant to the previous vaccination. Here in America, we see the evolution of mankind. During the American Civil War the average American male was 5’8″. Now, the average American male is closer to 6’0″. So we see that creatures do evolve to some extent.
The type of evolution we have discussed above is called microevolution. The Catholic Church does not deny the evidence for microevolution. But, does the Catholic Church support the idea that one species can evolve into another species (called macroevolution)? The answer is, again, both yes and no.
The Catholic Church does not say whether or not macroevolution is true or false, generally-speaking. The Church does, however, deny certain types of macroevolution. Basically, one of the only things Catholics are bound by faith to believe about evolution is that whatever happened, God caused it. It is not contradictory to the Bible to believe that humankind evolved from some other species. I do not adhere to this idea, but I acknowledge that it is possible. One can believe that the human body evolved over time from Cro-Magnon, Homo Erectus, etc. The Bible is silent as to the exact means God used to create the human body. One does not have to believe the human body was immediately created by God out of the dust of the Earth. Genesis’ description does not have to mean that. Catholics are not Fundamentalists. To argue against a literal interpretation of Scripture is not to disprove the Catholic position. We do not believe that when Genesis says God made man out of the dust of the Earth, that one has to believe God immediately made man out of dust of the Earth. Genesis can be interpreted differently. God could just as easily have used a process like evolution to develop the human body.
Another thing Catholics have to believe in regards to evolution is that the human soul did not evolve. There is a reason why humans are the only creatures who have the ability to rationalize. The human soul did not evolve. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the soul did evolve. In order for human beings to be the only creatures who can rationalize, it must be that the human soul was created at some point after (or when) our direct ancestor’s body evolve into modern man. If the human soul had evolved, there would be other animals with varying degrees of rationalization. Such is not the case, so the human soul could not have evolved. Catholics are required by faith to believe this, in addition to believing that God caused evolution.
The last thing Catholics are required to believe about evolution is that the human race sprang from only one man and one woman. In fact, science has proven this very thing. All humankind descended from one man and one woman. Now science says there were other human beings on Earth at the time, but their lines did not survive. Only the lines of “Mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosomal Adam” survived. In other words, “Mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosomal Adam” were the first two people with rational souls. That is just what the Catholic Church has said! If you would like to read more about this issue just click on the two links below:
So the Catholic Church is not an enemy of science. Science does not contradict what the Church teaches. Science only deals with what can be detected by the senses. The Church deals with the essence of things, which can not be detected by the senses. So there is not and can not be any conflict between faith and science.
Another thing I would like to clarify here are my remarks about homosexuality. I have repeatedly said that being a homosexual is sinful. I also posted a blog in which I said that homosexuality is not genetic, therefore, no one is born homosexual. I must clarify these things, because I have been misunderstood. Perhaps it is my fault for not being clear enough.
Proving homosexuality isn’t genetic doesn’t men that people aren’t born with homosexual tendencies. Proving homosexuality isn’t genetic simply proves that homosexuality isn’t a gene inherited by an individual from his/her parents. But this doesn’t mean one can’t be born with homosexual tendencies. Dyslexia isn’t genetic either, but dyslexics are born that way. So, people can be born homosexual.
Yet, to say that doesn’t prove that homosexuality is permissible. No one leaves dyslexia untreated. My half-brother, Miles, is dyslexic. My father and stepmother did not just tell Miles, “Tough luck, kid. You’ll just have live with it.”
No, my father and stepmother got treatment for Miles. They took him to a specialist who helped him develop ways to cope with his dyslexia. He has learned to read and write correctly as a result. Is it always easy for him? No, but Miles keeps working to overcome this disadvantage.
That is all homosexuals must do. If they are born that way (and that hasn’t been proven to be the case), that doesn’t mean the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable. It is a disordered lifestyle. It is an evil tendency that must be overcome.
To have the tendency to be attracted to the same sex is not a sin in itself. It’s just like having a short temper. Having a short temper is not sinful in itself. It’s what you do with that temper that can be either good, or sinful. It is the same with homosexuality. To act on the tendency is sinful. To fight it with prayer and abstinence is good. Eventually, someone with homosexual tendencies may be able to overcome this disadvantage to the point where they are able to have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. They may even be able to be married. A man who avoids living the homosexual lifestyle, and learns to overcome this disadvantage, may also be eligible for the priesthood!
This ties into Pope Francis’ statements during his airplane interview. While I acknowledge that Pope Francis’ remarks might have been worded better, I do not accept the accusations many Catholics have made against him. Pope Francis was not intending to contradict Catholic teaching, and if you read his remarks in full, it is clear that Pope Francis did not contradict Catholic teaching.
Pope Francis simply said that men with homosexual attractions who learn to control this disorder, and lead an abstinent life dedicated to Christ, are eligible to be priests. This is no different from what the Church ha always said. Pope Francis also refused to judge homosexual people. While homosexual acts are mortal sins, we can not judge people who commit them. We have no way of knowing if they have repented before death. The actions can be judged-and are rightfully judged-as mortal sins. Homosexual people can not be judged.
I see nothing wrong with Pope Francis’ statements, except that they can be viewed as poorly worded. But even if Pope Francis did contradict Church teaching what would this prove? Pope Francis was answering questions from the media. Such responses can hardly been viewed as infallible. They aren’t even intended to be infallible. The Pope isn’t protected from error when he isn’t speaking officially as head of the Church; when he isn’t intending to teach infallibly; and when he isn’t teaching on faith and morals. So, one need not worry about Pope Francis’ comments. No pope has ever officially taught heresy, and Jesus has guaranteed us that no pope ever will!
Let us lay this matter to rest. Obama is constantly referring to Benghazi, IRS, etc. as fake scandals. They aren’t. They are real scandals. Pope Francis’ comments to the media regarding homosexuality, however, is a fake scandal. Let’s move on.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity