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On Monday, October 27, 2014, addressing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences , Pope Francis is reported to have said, 'the Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.'

“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magician, with a wand able to make everything. But it is not so,” the Bishop of Rome affirmed.

“He created beings and allowed them to develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one, so that they were able to develop and to arrive and their fullness of being. He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality. And so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the creator who gives being to all things.”

Pope Francis said that “the beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a Supreme Principle who creates out of love.”

“The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.” - Source: Francis inaugurates bust of Benedict, emphasizes unity of faith, science | CNA.

Are the theories of Evolution and the Big Bang now binding to Catholics and to be held as true?

The answer will include a history of papal and Church pronouncements on these theories. Please note the acceptable answer is not the one that tries to explain what the Pope meant. An acceptable answer would be the one that presents the answer as how one understands what the Pope said in light of the Church's teaching.


cf. Video | Reuters.


cf. Address of his Holiness Pope Francis on the Occasion of the Inauguration of the bust in honour of Pope Benedict XVI | Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences | Casina of Pius IV | Monday, 27 October 2014.

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    While the situation is unique, the brunt of the question is functionally the same as this question: When does the Pope speak ex cathedra? – Mark Edward Nov 2 '14 at 23:15
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    I am no a canon (nor any other kind of) lawyer, and do not play one on the internet, or any other virtual or natural jurisdiction. However, as I understand canon law, the recent statement of Francis did not meet the requirements defined for an infallible teaching, and I understand the statement merely to be the personal expression of the opinion of Francis. – brasshat Nov 3 '14 at 5:58
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    That said... The Church isn't in the business of making scientific theories doctrinal. It's business is in presenting a proper, applicable understanding of that which has been revealed through Christ. The Pope's statement is binding inasmuch as the Catholic isn't permitted to think these theories (or whatever you call them) contradict Catholic teaching. – svidgen Nov 3 '14 at 14:59
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    What do you mean by binding? Are you asking if a Catholic can be excommunicated if they don't believe in theistic evolution? – Flimzy Nov 3 '14 at 21:33
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From this @AthanasiusOfAlex's answer to What would happen if the Pope were to abuse his power? | ShemSeger, the Church's 'expertise' is Divine Revelation and the binding she binds her Children is in matters of faith or morals.

True science - for example true science as regards the theories of Evolution and the Big Bang - does not fall under the authority of the Church and the Pope to bind the Church's children. Therefore neither the Church nor the Pope can say to her children, believe this scientific theory as true over that scientific theory because even science itself does not do that.

From this answer to What is the Catholic Church's Position on the Scientific Theory of Evolution?, Pope Pius XII explains what the Church does as regards science when it touches on scriptural interpretation and dogmas of faith

[All must] be are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith.

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There is no official Church teaching on evolution, but this wikipedia article has a very nice summary of the Catholic Church and evolution and provides a history of statements from Church leaders and some theologians. [cf. Catholic Church and evolution | Wikiwand.]

It should be realized that the dedication of a bust is not an occasion where some new Church teaching is going to be given. You go could into how Church teaching comes about. A Pope can speak ex cathedra, but that has only been done twice in history and it is made very clear that he is speaking in this way. For non-dogmatic Church teaching the Pope would issue a document such as an encyclical. If something is going to be required by Catholics then it will be stated in a clear and formal way.

However, this explanation is unnecessary because a careful reading of the statements will show that about the only thing that could be considered as a new teaching would be the idea that the scientific theories of Evolution and the Big Bang do not rule out the idea of creation and can even presuppose the idea of creation.

The Pope does not endorse evolution. He says that evolution does not rule out the idea of creation. "The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.” So, the theory of Evolution could not be considered as here being taught.

The Pope does not endorse the Big Bang when he says, "The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it." He is simply saying that the Big Bang, a currently accepted scientific theory posited as the origin of the world, does not rule out a creating God, but requires it. So, the Big Bang theory could not be considered as being taught.

The Pope realizes he is not a scientist and does not debate with scientific theories. He addresses these theories the scientific community has provided from a philosophical and theological perspective and makes conclusions, e.g. they do not rule out the idea of a creating God.

Even statements such as "... And so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today...", and "The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.", are not meant to be taken as Church teaching. His remarks are not focused on these scientific descriptions as being something true, but he uses the description that the theories provide in order to show that they do not rule out the idea of creation.

A careful reading of his remarks will show that this is the reason for his remarks, to show that these scientific theories do not rule out the idea of creation, and this is the only new thing in his remarks that could be likened to a teaching. You can not teach something just by mentioning it, or accepting it for the sake of showing something else.

Popes write books, they answer reporters questions, they make speeches at various events. Not everything a Pope says is 'official'. When a Pope wants to provide anything that would be official teaching it is done in a way to make clear to all that this is the case.

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The answer to your question is "No."

At least in what was quoted in OP, Pope Francis did not say the Big Bang is true, nor did he say the Theory of Evolution is true.

Essentially, he said that IF they are true, there still had to be a God to make them happen.

EDIT: Just to clarify - I did not explain what the Pope meant, only what he said.

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I believe the Pope has to speak "ex cathedra" for his statements to be binding. I don't believe Pope Francis was speaking ex cathedra when he was discussing those theories so the short answer would be no, Catholics aren't expected to believe in those things.

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    This is the start of a good answer, could use some sources/links to other questions and the like. Pretty decent for a first post. – Reluctant_Linux_User Dec 7 '14 at 21:42

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