Friday, August 05, 2005

Word's Out

The Friday favorite is posted, with a picture of Allen greeting B16 at the 7 July audience for the Irish Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern -- JLA was in the press pool.

John Allen gets Schonborn on the phone with more on evolution:

In that regard, some Catholic observers pointed to a 2004 document of the International Theological Commission, the main advisory body to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, titled "Communion and Stewardship." Paragraph 69 of the document treats the distinctions among different meanings of words such as "unguided" and "random."

Scientists debate, the paragraph said, whether life's development is best explained by explicit design or random mutation and natural selection. This is not an argument that theology can settle. Following Thomas Aquinas, however, the document says that divine providence is consistent with either hypothesis. God's causation can express itself through both necessity and contingency, so that even if the development of life seems random to empirical observation, it certainly doesn't to God.

I had hoped to speak to Schönborn about all this, but unfortunately he was in Poland as I wrote the piece. This week, however, I was able to reach him. My question was, what does he make of paragraph 69 of the ITC document? In the end, is his problem with evolutionary theory itself, or with its potential philosophical and theological abuse?

This is his response:

"I agree completely with what was formulated in number 69 of 'Stewardship and Communion.' And I feel confirmed in my convictions by this document. In any case I think it is necessary to cite the whole paragraph 69, when it states: 'In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science.'

"For Catholic thinking," Schönborn told me, "it was clear from Pius XII's encyclical, Humani generis, that evolutionary theory can be valid to understand certain mechanisms, but it can never be seen or accepted as a holistic model to explain the existence of life."

Schönborn's point thus seems to be that in "absolute" form, meaning as a "holistic model" that would exclude design as a metaphysical matter, "evolutionism" turns into a philosophy that parts company with Christianity.

Hmm... Again, I'm not a science guy, so this one's for the experts.

And, apparently, State shot itself in the foot again, this time being the alleged source of the defense on Israel:

A senior Vatican source told NCR on July 30, however, that Navarro was not the author of the documents. In fact, according to this source, the first time Navarro saw them was on the papal plane bringing Benedict XVI back to Rome on July 28 from his vacation in Val d'Aosta, after they had already been released.

According to this source, the documents were prepared by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the official in the Secretariat of State responsible for relations with governments -- in effect, the pope's foreign minister. They were then released under the aegis of the Vatican Press Office.

If so, this would be the third high-profile incident since the election of Benedict XVI in which the Secretariat of State has generated controversy. The first came with a May 20 declaration stating that there is no canonical case against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, related to charges of sexual abuse, despite the fact that it is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that has responsibility for these cases; the second with a draft version of Benedict's telegram of sympathy for the July 7 London bombings, which referred to the attacks as "anti-Christian."

Another -10 for State.

Check the link for a really succinct and solid synthesis of JP's leadership style John gave in Detroit earlier in the week. Twenty-seven years of papal governance in four points. Remarkable. Give it an intense read.



Blogger KathrynTherese said...

You're right. This piece from JLA is magnificently succinct. Beautiful. I am still basking in the afterglow...
I think my favorite sentence is:
"John Paul's determination, rightly or wrongly, was to set an example and trust others to follow him. "

It seems to me that this was the super-fancy technique used by a certain carpenter-rabbi curiously named Yeshua...

5/8/05 15:07  

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