A senior Vatican prelate has said that "evolutionary theory is not incompatible with Catholic teaching" Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council of Culture made the declaration at a recent press con announcing next year's Church sponsored interdisciplinary conference on the 150th anniversary of Darwin's Origin of Species. The fact that the Roman Church has considered this anniversary an important event shows that it values reason and scientific inquiry and demonstrates evolutionary theory and science as important in world culture.
The conference will be attended not only by evolutionary biologists, but theologians, philosophers, humanists and artists.
Best of all, I believe this another broadside in Pope Benedict XVI's culture war against fundamentalism of all sorts. Benedict recently warned against literal interpretation of the Bible in a speech to academics and intellectuals in Paris. In stronger and more direct words than what his predecessor John Paul II used, Benedict said that the Bible "excludes by its nature everything that today is known as fundamentalism. In effect, the word of God can never simply be equated with the letter of the text."
This is yet the clearest message to say that Catholicism is against fundamentalism. Benedict also praised scientific advances but cautioned that there are some questions that science won't be able to answer. Benedict stopped short of endorsing "intelligent design".
This is also a direct rebuff against his star pupil, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna. Schoenborn advocates intelligent design.
The pieces fit as far as Benedict is concerned. The Pope has issued broadsides against moral and cognitive relativism. The opposite of these is of course fundamentalism. Benedict is consistent. You can't shoot one side of the coin without puncturing the other!
So it is clear now where and how Papa Ratzinger stands. This razor sharp professor has little tolerance for sloppy thinking. Unlike many academics, he doesn't fudge his words.