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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

UF prof: Pope’s nod to evolution not new

Pope Francis said evolution and creationism do not contradict, causing a controversy this week that was largely unwarranted, said UF theology professor David Hackett.

“This is due to the lack of knowledge of the Catholic Church,” said Hackett, who teaches American Religious History and Sociology of Religion.

The pope was addressing the assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday when he said, “Evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

But Hackett reminded observers that the pope is an individual, and his views are not necessarily those of the church.

The Catholic Church has never taken a position on creationism, he said.

The church’s original beliefs are not creationism, nor are they doctrine, he said.

“It’s the opinion of the pope,” Hackett said. “He is not condemning the other.”

And though his announcement may seem groundbreaking, Hackett said it’s been said before.

Pope Pius XII had a similar viewpoint in the 1950s, according to the encyclical Humani Generis, his published letter to the church.

In 1996, St. John Paul II endorsed Pius’ statement.

“His acceptance is actually not anything new,” said Valeria Nasiri, a 21-year-old UF resource economics senior and Catholic Gator club member. “It’s been that way for a while.”

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 10/31/2014]

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