07/09/2005: "Backpedaling John Paul II"
Following are excerpts from words of the late Pope John Paul II that were recently described by Cardinal Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, as “vague and unimportant:” “we will be able to profit from the fruitfulness of a trustful dialogue between the Church and science” “I am pleased with the first theme you [Pontifical Academy of Sciences] have chosen, that of the origins of life and evolution, an essential subject which deeply interests the Church” “research on the Church's relations with science between the 16th and 18th centuries is of great importance.” “In the domain of inanimate and animate nature, the evolution of science and its applications give rise to new questions. The better the Church's knowledge is of their essential aspects, the more she will understand their impact.” “my predecessor Pius XII had already stated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith” “It is necessary to determine the proper sense of Scripture, while avoiding any unwarranted interpretations that make it say what it does not intend to say. In order to delineate the field of their own study, the exegete and the theologian must keep informed about the results achieved by the natural sciences” “new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.” “A theory's validity depends on whether or not it can be verified; it is constantly tested against the facts” “Consideration of the method used in the various branches of knowledge makes it possible to reconcile two points of view which would seem irreconcilable. The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. The moment of transition to the spiritual cannot be the object of this kind of observation, which nevertheless can discover at the experimental level a series of very valuable signs indicating what is specific to the human being. But the experience of metaphysical knowledge, of self-awareness and self-reflection, of moral conscience, freedom, or again of aesthetic and religious experience, falls within the competence of philosophical analysis and reflection, while theology brings out its ultimate meaning according to the Creator's plans.”
Do these messages strike you as “vague and unimportant?”