Finally - A Reasonable Statement by the Vatican
After enduring months of idiotic statements and press releases by the Vatican (Harry Potter books are evil, intelligent design has merit, seminaries must report homosexual activity, etc, etc), finally I've heard something that doesn't make me wish I was Episcopalian. Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, has been working on a project to end prejudice between science and religion. The fact that such a project exists is encouraging enough, but he issued a statement urging the faithful to listen to what modern science has to offer and warning that ignoring scientific reason could turn religion into fundamentalism.
It gets better.
Referring to the church's 17th century denunciation of Galileo (you might recall he took the blasphemous view that the Earth rotated around the sun, which was contrary to the church's view that the Earth was the center of the universe), Poupard said "The permanent lesson that the Galileo case represents pushes us to keep alive the dialogue between the various disciplines, and in particular between theology and the natural sciences, if we want to prevent similar episodes from repeating themselves in the future... The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity."
When asked specifically about the intelligent design debate going on in the U.S., Monsignor Gianfranco Basti, director of the Vatican project Science, Theology and Ontological Quest, reaffirmed Pope John Paul II's 1996 statement that evolution was "more than just a hypothesis." Monsignor Basti said "A hypothesis asks whether something is true or false. (Evolution) is more than a hypothesis because there is proof."
Cardinal Poupard, giving official Church voice to a belief that I think many scientists share, said that what was important was that "the universe wasn't made by itself, but has a creator." But, "It's important for the faithful to know how science views things to understand better."
I can't tell you how good it makes me feel that, even though conservative voices are many in the Church right now, there are still a number of people who can be reasonable, logical, and rational -- while speaking officially for the Church.