Matt C. Abbott
Ray Comfort's ignorance, Father John Pawlikowski's liberalism, and Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's...territorialism?
By Matt C. Abbott
February 18, 2009

''The Vatican, in essence, is saying, 'Don't believe Jesus or Genesis. Believe Darwin instead,'' [Ray] Comfort said. 'God made man in his own image, and God is not a primate. In the name of diversity, the Vatican is encouraging atheism, and that's a terrible betrayal of Christianity.''

The above paragraph is from a Feb. 15 WorldNetDaily article titled "Top Christian author challenges Vatican," which quotes Protestant author Ray Comfort.

Mr. Comfort's assertion is nonsense.

As Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro Carambula, head of the Rome chapter of Human Life International, said in an e-mail:

    'Benedict XVI himself has addressed the issue of evolution several times. He mentioned it for the first time during the homily of his pontificate's inaugural Mass on April 24, 2005. At that time he said: 'We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.' He spoke about it again on April 6, 2008, when he addressed young people who had come to St. Peter's Square in anticipation of World Youth Day. The pope said: 'Science presupposes the trustworthy, intelligent structure of matter, the 'design' of creation.''

Also, a friend of mine, who shall remain anonymous, said the following in an e-mail:

    'The WND article refuses to distinguish between Darwin's theory of natural selection and the question of how everything originated. Darwin's theory itself only makes a claim about how things change, not how everything began.

    'Darwin's theory is compatible with the book of Genesis, which is not a science textbook and never was understood as a science textbook; it was always understood by Jews and Christians as a literary narrative about how God created and creates. The only way Darwin's theory is incompatible with Christianity is if a Darwinist asserts that man's soul evolved by natural selection from apes' brains.

    'But I don't think Darwin himself said that — indeed, Darwin could not say that because the soul by definition cannot be measured or observed scientifically. So no scientist could, as a scientist, make such a claim. Fossils cannot give evidence of souls or lack of souls. There's no way to tell from fossil remains which of the hominid species had souls and which did not. A scientist who claims that an ensouled human species arose by evolution from a non-ensouled hominid is making an unscientific claim. In fact, almost no scientist will make that claim. Instead, most of them who say we evolved from apes deny that we have souls.

    'The pre-human hominids had no souls, in those scientists' view, and humans have no souls. Thus, for non-believers in souls, it's easy to say that man evolved from apes. But when a scientist says as much, he's talking religion, not science. Science can't say anything one way or another about souls. You believe in souls or don't believe in souls based not on science but on philosophy and religion. Unfortunately, many scientists are very poorly informed about how philosophy and religion relate to science. The Vatican is very well informed about the two. [Ray Comfort] is probably illiterate in questions of philosophy of science.

    'Darwin's theory has to stand or fall on scientific evidence. Christians should do two things: 1) Focus on scientific questioning of Darwin's theory. Does it truly fit the data or not? Those scientists who say it does not need to be encouraged. That's a scientific debate. That's what John Paul II said in his statement on evolution in 1996, namely, it's a scientific theory (explanatory model) that stands or falls depending on how well or adequately it explains the data.

    'The Church never gets involved in taking sides on questions of which scientific theory best explains the data. That's for scientists to decide. (Thus, the Church should stay out of the global warming debate, for instance. If indeed there were strong scientific consensus about global warming being human-caused, then the Church might have something to say about what to do about it. But, so far, there is no such consensus. Church leaders who take the human-caused global warming theory as being verified by the data are misguided.)

    'On Darwin, there seemed to be large consensus about much of it in 1996 and that's why John Paul II said what he said, accepting the theory as the reigning one but rejecting the anti-soul materialist philosophy that some people claim to be true under the label of Darwinism. I personally think the scientific consensus is weakening for Darwin's explanatory model and that John Paul II should have been more cautious, but that's a judgment call. Science is increasingly being warped by ideology. The days may be over when scientists can coolly survey the data and agree or disagree about which explanatory models fit the data and which do not. Truth suffers when that happens.

    '2) Religiously, we and Jews and Muslims all insist that God created everything and created man as distinct from other species. We need to make clear to ourselves what science can say and cannot say about souls, mankind, and so on. But to take the book of Genesis as giving a verdict one way or another on the credibility of Darwin's theory is to mix apples and oranges.

    'Now, it is true that under 'Darwinism' many of people understand a religious philosophy of materialism that rejects the existence of the soul and denies humans are different from animals. That's the gist of Philip Johnson's books. But that kind of philosophical 'Darwinism' is not what Darwin's theory said. It's a religion or philosophy that falsely claims Darwin is on its side. Darwin himself avoided the question of ultimate origins.'

From Dr. Jeff Mirus, of

    'It never ceases to amaze me how quick wayward subordinates can be to criticize their superiors. In what must surely rank as one of the most self-serving and theologically shallow interviews of the millennium, Father John Pawlikowski, director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program at the Catholic Theological Union, hastens to point out the flaws in Pope Benedict's understanding of the Church.

    'See the Catholic World News feature: Influential Chicago priest: Benedict's theology contributes to Holocaust controversy. Fortunately you can trust our news service to connect the dots, figuring out that Father Pawlikowski also donated to the campaign of the most pro-abortion politician in American history. Perhaps a priest ought to at least understand the Faith before he instructs the Pope.'

According to Damian Thompson, "Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has invoked Canon Law to justify banning Archbishop Raymond Burke, a senior Vatican prelate, from saying the traditional Latin Mass [per the invitation of the Latin Mass Society] at Westminster Cathedral in June."


I can understand the cardinal taking such action if, say, Bishop Richard Williamson was the one invited, but Archbishop Burke?

Territorialism, perhaps?

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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