It was the legal decision heard around the world—and that includes Rome.
The official newspaper of the Vatican, L’Osservatore Romano, has published an article supporting a U.S. judge’s opinion declaring “intelligent design” to be a religious concept, not a scientific one. The publication, according to its U.S.-based distributor, is “the voice of the pope.”
The Jan. 17 article says that intelligent design—generally, the belief that an unnamed force has guided aspects of life’s development—should not be presented as science in schools, according to an account published by the Washington-based Catholic News Service, which reports on issues affecting the Roman Catholic Church.
Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, in Italy, wrote the article. It says that U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III ruled properly in declaring that the Dover, Pa., school district acted in an unconstitutional fashion in requiring that students be introduced to intelligent design in high school biology classes.
“It is not correct methodology to stray from the field of science, pretending to do science,” according to the account translated from Italian by the news service.
Religious and secular observers had speculated recently about whether the Catholic Church was shifting its position on the theory of evolution. In 1996, Pope John Paul II said evolution was “more than just a hypothesis.” But last July, after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times rejecting the idea that life has evolved through an “unguided, unplanned” process. The cardinal said the late pope’s position on that issue had been misinterpreted.