The official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, agrees with the recent decision in Kitzmiller et. al. v. Dover [PA] that Intelligent Design doesn't presently belong in the science classroom.
"If the model proposed by Darwin is not considered sufficient, one should search for another," Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, wrote in the Jan. 16-17 edition of the paper [ . . . ]
"But it is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of science while pretending to do science," he wrote, calling intelligent design unscientific. "It only creates confusion between the scientific plane and those that are philosophical or religious."
The article was not presented as an official church position. But in the subtle and purposely ambiguous world of the Vatican, the comments seemed notable, given their strength on a delicate question much debated under the new pope, Benedict XVI.
Advocates for teaching evolution hailed the article. "He is emphasizing that there is no need to see a contradiction between Catholic teachings and evolution," said Dr. Francisco J. Ayala, professor of biology at the University of California, Irvine, and a former Dominican priest. "Good for him."
Different signals seemed to be sent last July, however, when
Christoph Schönborn, an Austrian cardinal close to Benedict, seemed to call into question what has been official church teaching for years: that Catholicism and evolution are not necessarily at odds.
In an Op-Ed article in The New York Times, he played down a 1996 letter in which Pope John Paul II called evolution "more than a hypothesis." He wrote, "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not." [ . . . ]
At least twice, Pope Benedict has signaled concern about the issue, prompting questions about his views. In April, when he was formally installed as pope, he said human beings "are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution." In November, he called the creation of the universe an "intelligent project," wording welcomed by supporters of intelligent design. [ . . . ]
[However, i]n October, Cardinal Schönborn sought to clarify his own remarks, saying he meant to question not the science of evolution but what he called evolutionism, an attempt to use the theory to refute the hand of God in creation.
"I see no difficulty in joining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, but under the prerequisite that the borders of scientific theory are maintained," he said in a speech.
To Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University and a Catholic, "That is my own view as well."
"As long as science does not pretend it can answer spiritual questions, it's O.K.," he said.
According to Dr. Miller, who testified for the plaintiffs (against teaching ID as science) in Dover, this position is "traditional Catholic thinking":
In the Osservatore article, Dr. Facchini wrote that scientists could not rule out a divine "superior design" to creation and the history of mankind. But he said Catholic thought did not preclude a design fashioned through an evolutionary process.
(A tip of the chapeau to Althouse.)
UPDATE: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
I was trying to remember that quote, and who said it, and damned if it didn't show up at Nobody Asked. Ah, symblogosis.