Evolution Doesn't Explain Man, says Pope

Pope John Paul II has spoken again about the theory of evolution. Catholic teaching has always been ambivalent toward the theory. On the one hand, nothing in the theory need challenge faith in the Creator or in Scripture, properly understood. In October 1996, the Holy Father stressed this in remarks to a group of evolutionary scientists. Though his qualified endorsement of the scientists' efforts was in no way new, many headlines at the time misconstrued his guarded language as a papal endorsement of Darwinism.

Just as strong in Catholic teaching has been its cautionary attitude toward those proponents of the theory who insist that it has dispensed with God—and, along with him, many of the traditional ways man has understood himself. In his most recent public remarks about the theory, the Holy Father stressed the Church's rejection of the excesses of some of the theories' adherents.

Wire services reported him saying in May that evolution does not explain man's presence on earth and that it is “secondary” to divine action.

“Evolution isn't enough to explain the origins of humanity, just as biological chance alone isn't enough to explain the birth of a baby,” he said.

Speaking at his weekly general audience, the Pope added, “God creates the spirit of a new human being.”