The Vatican has admitted that Charles Darwin was on the right track when he claimed that Man descended from apes.
A leading official declared yesterday that Darwinâ€™s theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. â€œIn fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God,â€ said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The Vatican also dealt the final blow to speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might be prepared to endorse the theory of Intelligent Design, whose advocates credit a â€œhigher powerâ€ for the complexities of life.
Organisers of a papal-backed conference next month marking the 150th anniversary of Darwinâ€™s On the Origin of Species said that at first it had even been proposed to ban Intelligent Design from the event, as â€œpoor theology and poor scienceâ€. Intelligent Design would be discussed at the fringes of the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University, but merely as a â€œcultural phenomenonâ€, rather than a scientific or theological issue, organisers said.
The conference is seen as a landmark in relations between faith and science. Three years ago advocates of Intelligent Design seized on the Popeâ€™s reference to an â€œintelligent projectâ€ as proof that he favoured their views.
– Times Online, Richard Owen in Rome