The Traditional Catholic Doctrine of Creation

Ave Maria!

As I prepare a post on creation from a scotistic point of view, it seemed appropriate to make available here the traditional Catholic doctrine on creation. We profess in the Creed that God is Creator. Creation is a fundamental doctrine of the Judaeo-Christian faith; it is a dogma of the Catholic Faith. As such, it is of utmost importance that we know our Faith so as not to be mislead by conjectures and that itch for novelty of which St. Paul warns:

“For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: [4] And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. [5] But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober” (2 Tm 4:3-5)

This article is from The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation website and will save me from having to describe what exactly the Church teaches. Here is the article:

The Traditional Catholic Doctrine of Creation

Our Lord took pains to emphasize that any evangelization accompanied by the fullness of his power must include ALL the Truths that He entrusted to the Apostles.  One of those Truths is the doctrine of creation and the Fall which underlies the Church’s teaching on Redemption and Sanctification.  In recent decades faith in the original doctrine of creation has been shaken by the claims of evolutionary theory, but twenty-first century natural science has now answered and invalidated those claims.  This paper will summarize the traditional authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church on creation, evaluate the claim that recent Popes have officially endorsed theistic evolution, and show why Catholics are fully justified in holding fast to the traditional doctrine of creation.

Magisterial Teaching on Creation

Both the Council of Trent and Vatican Council I taught that no one is permitted to interpret Sacred Scripture “contrary to the unanimous agreement of the Fathers.” In the words of Fr. Victor Warkulwiz:

The Fathers and Doctors of the Church unanimously agreed that Genesis 1-11 is an inerrant literal historical account of the beginning of the world and the human species as related by the prophet Moses under divine inspiration. This does not mean that they agreed on every point in its interpretation, but their differences were accidental and not essential. Pope Leo XIII, following St. Augustine, affirmed the Catholic rule for interpreting Sacred Scripture, “not to depart from the literal and obvious sense, except only where reason makes it untenable or necessity requires.”

For the first five centuries of the Church, all of the Fathers believed and proclaimed:

that God created the different kinds of living things instantly and immediately

That Adam was created from the dust of the earth and Eve from his side

that God ceased to create new kinds of creatures after the creation of Adam

that the Original Sin of Adam shattered the perfect harmony of the first-created world and brought human death, deformity, and disease into the world.

This patristic teaching on creation was implicit in the words of the Nicene Creed, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”  Not until the Middle Ages when the Albigensian heresy denied the divine creation of the material universe did an Ecumenical Council elaborate on the first article of the creed in the following words:

God…creator of all visible and invisible things of the spiritual and of the corporal who by his own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual and corporal namely angelic and mundane and finally the human, constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body.

For 600 years, according to the foremost Catholic Doctors and commentators on this dogmatic decree, the words “at once from the beginning” signified that God created all of the different kinds of corporeal creatures and angels “simul” (“at once”).  This could be reconciled with the six days of creation (the view of the overwhelming majority of the Fathers) or with the instantaneous creation envisioned by St. Augustine–but it could not be reconciled with a longer creation period.  Among the commentators who taught that Lateran IV had defined the relative simultaneity of the creation of all things, perhaps the most authoritative was St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619), Doctor of the Church.  In his commentary on Genesis, St. Lawrence wrote:

the Holy Roman Church determined in the Fourth Lateran Council that the angels along with the creatures of the world were at once created ex nihilo from the beginning of time.

This precise meaning of the words of Lateran IV was also explained by the most authoritative catechism in the history of the Catholic Church-the Roman Catechism-which taught that God created ALL things by his Fiat instantaneously “in the beginning” without any natural process:

[T]he Divinity ­­ created all things in the beginning. He spoke and they were made: He commanded and they were created.

According to the Roman Catechism, “Creator of heaven and earth” in the Creed also referred to the creation of all of the different kinds of living things.  It states:

The earth also God commanded to stand in the midst of the world, rooted in its own foundation, and made the mountains ascend, and the plains descend into the place which he had founded for them. That the waters should not inundate the earth, He set a bound which they shall not pass over; neither shall they return to cover the earth. He next not only clothed and adorned it with trees and every variety of plant and flower, but filled it, as He had already filled the air and water, with innumerable kinds of living creatures (emphasis added) (Catechism of Trent).

Note that God created all of these creatures by his word, instantly and immediately.  During the creation period, He made, specifically, trees, “every variety of plant and flower,” air creatures and water creatures and land animals.   There was no evolution.  There was no long interval of time.

The Council Fathers reiterated the constant teaching of the Fathers, Doctors, and Popes, that God created the first man, Adam, by an act of special creation.  They wrote:

Lastly, He formed man from the slime of the earth, so created and constituted in body as to be immortal and impassible, not, however, by the strength of nature, but by the bounty of God. Man’s soul He created to His own image and likeness; gifted him with free will, and tempered all his motions and appetites so as to subject them, at all times, to the dictates of reason. He then added the admirable gift of original righteousness, and next gave him dominion over all other animals. By referring to the sacred history of Genesis the pastor will easily make himself familiar with these things for the instruction of the faithful (Catechism of the Council of Trent).

Notice that the plain sense of the “sacred history of Genesis” is so sure a guide to the truth of the creation and early history of the world and of man that the council fathers direct the pastor to read the sacred history so that he can “easily” make himself familiar with the facts.  “Lastly” means God created man last.  There has been no further creation since the creation of Adam and Eve.  Only variation within limits established during the six days.

The Catechism of Trent underscored the teaching of all of the Fathers and Doctors that creation was complete with the creation of Adam and Eve-and that God ceased creating new kinds of creatures after creating the first human beings.

We now come to the meaning of the word sabbath. Sabbath is a Hebrew word which signifies cessation. To keep the Sabbath, therefore, means to cease from labor and to rest. In this sense the seventh day was called the Sabbath, because God, having finished the creation of the world, rested on that day from all the work which He had done. Thus it is called by the Lord in Exodus (emphasis added) (Catechism of the Council of Trent).

Note that God finished the creation of the world and all of the different kinds of creatures specifically on the sixth day of a seven day week.  Soon after the Fourth Lateran Council, St. Thomas Aquinas had summed up the teaching of all the Church Fathers on the two perfections of the universe:

[T]he final perfection, which is the end of the whole universe, is the perfect beatitude of the saints at the consummation of the world; and the first perfection is the completeness of the universe at its first founding, and this is what is ascribed to the seventh day.[1] ST, I, q. 73, a. 1.

The teaching of St. Thomas makes clear that the reason why God created the entire universe and everything in it was so that men made in the image of His Son could become saints-and not for any other reason!  He also reaffirms the teaching of all of the Church Fathers who held that the original creation was perfect, complete and harmonious in all of its parts.  In contrast, theistic evolution holds that all kinds of creatures evolved and became extinct long before man evolved, that there never was a perfectly complete and harmonious creation in the beginning, and that God ordained that hundreds of millions of years of death, deformity, negative mutations, and disease should exist on earth before the first human beings evolved from sub-human primates.

The teaching of the Catechism of Trent was upheld by the Magisterium well in to the twentieth century.  The First Vatican Council affirmed the teaching on creation of Lateran IV word for word.  The Popes who reigned during the decades after Vatican I all mandated that the Catechism of Trent be used to teach priests and faithful the true doctrine of creation.  Moreover, every magisterial teaching that touched on the interpretation of Genesis 1-11 upheld the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11.

In 1880, in an encyclical on Holy Marriage, Pope Leo XIII wrote to the Bishops as follows:

What is the true origin of marriage? That, Venerable Brethren, is a matter of common knowledge. For although the revilers of the Christian faith shrink from acknowledging the Church’s permanent doctrine on this matter, and persist in their long-standing efforts to erase the history of all nations and all ages, they have nonetheless been unable to extinguish, or even to weaken, the strength and light of the truth. We call to mind facts well-known to all and doubtful to no-one: after He formed man from the slime of the earth on the sixth day of creation, and breathed into his face the breath of life, God willed to give him a female companion, whom He drew forth wondrously from the man’s side as he slept. In bringing this about, God, in His supreme Providence, willed that this spousal couple should be the natural origin of all men: in other words, that from this pair the human race should be propagated and preserved in every age by a succession of procreative acts which would never be interrupted. And so that this union of man and woman might correspond more aptly to the most wise counsels of God, it has manifested from that time onward, deeply impressed or engraved, as it were, within itself, two preeminent and most noble properties: unity and perpetuity (emphasis added).[4]

Pope Leo XIII also defended the traditional Catholic approach to Scriptural exegesis with his encyclical Providentissimus Deus, in which he re-affirmed the rule that Scripture scholars must “uphold the literal and obvious sense of Scripture, except where reason dictates or necessity requires.” In the light of this rule, the “sacred history” of Genesis 1-11 had to be interpreted literally unless exegetes could offer proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the literal interpretation of that history could not be true. Pope Leo’s successor, St. Pius X, was equally aware of the tendency of contemporary intellectuals to see evolution at work in theology and morality as well as in nature-and he deplored this tendency.  In Lamentabili St. Pius X condemned with the full weight of his office the proposition that “the progress of the sciences demands that the concept of Christian doctrine about  . . . creation . . . be recast.”  He also established the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC) to uphold the traditional Catholic approach to the study of the Bible and to combat modernism in Scripture study.  The PBC’s rulings on the interpretation of the book of Genesis are-together with Humani Generis, but even more sosome of the last authoritative magisterial statements on the subject.  In the Motu proprio, Praestantia Scripturae,” on November 18, 1907, Pope St. Pius X declared that no one could contest the rulings of the PBC without “grave sin.”

In 1909, the PBC’s answers to several questions about Genesis 1-3 established certain truths unequivocally.

Its reply to Question I established that the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis cannot be called into question.

Its reply to Question II established that Genesis contains “stories of events which really happened, which correspond with historical reality and objective truth,” not “legends, historical in part and fictitious in part.”  In short, the PBC definitively excluded the possibility that even a part of the Genesis 1-3 narrative could be fictitious and non-historical.

The PBC’s answer to Question III established that the literal and historical truth of the following facts cannot be called into question:

1)       “The creation of all things wrought by God in the beginning of time”


This passage upholds the Lateran IV doctrine that all things were created by God “in the beginning of time.”

2) “The special creation of man”

Comment: This excludes any process in the formation of man and requires that the creation of man was immediate and instantaneous.

3) “The formation of the first woman from the first man”

Comment:  This, too, excludes any process in the formation of the first woman and requires that the creation of Eve was immediate and instantaneous.

In 1950, in the encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII gave permission to Catholic scholars to evaluate the pros and cons of human evolution.  But this permission in no way abrogated the authoritative teachings cited above.  Permission to investigate an alternative view is not tantamount to approval!  On the contrary, it is often a means to expose an error root and branch.  Pope Pius XII also called the German philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand a “twentieth century Doctor of the Church.”  Commenting on a Catholic catechism that spoke favorably of theistic evolution, Von Hildebrand wrote the following:

A grave error lies in the notion of “an evolutionary age” – as if it were something positive to which the Church must conform. Does the author consider it progress, an awakening to true reality, that Teilhard de Chardin’s unfortunate ideas about evolution fill the air? Does he not see that the prevailing tendency to submit everything, even truth–even divine truth!–to evolution amounts to a diabolical undermining of revealed truth? Truth is not truth if it is ever changing. The “courageous response” called for is precisely the opposite of yielding to evolutionary mythologies.

Nowadays many Catholics reject the “traditional” Catholic doctrine with respect to the special creation of man, the creation of Eve from Adam’s side, and other doctrines derived from the literal historical interpretation of Genesis 1-11 on the grounds that the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium in recent decades has “moved beyond” and “corrected” certain errors in its earlier pronouncements on these subjects in the light of scientific advances.  However, in the passage quoted above Dr. Von Hildebrand has given the simple reason why the special creation of Adam and the creation of Eve from Adam’s side, among other doctrines derived from Genesis 1-11, are authoritative and unchangeable Catholic doctrine. He reminds his readers that “Truth is not truth if it is ever changing.”  Therefore, it is impossible for the Magisterium to have taught these doctrines as authoritatively as it has in the past and then to contradict that authoritative teaching.  This would not be a “development of doctrine,” like the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception or Papal Infallibility, but a deformation of doctrine.

Nowadays it is widely asserted that defenders of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation only accept Magisterial teachings that agree with their own views and reject more recent pronouncements that contradict earlier teachings.  Since this accusation goes to the heart of the creation-evolution debate within the Catholic community, it is worth taking the time to examine it closely.  What is really at issue here is whether an ambiguous or non-authoritative teaching of a Pope or Council on a matter of faith or morals trumps a more authoritative prior Magisterial teaching on the same matter.  Theologian Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP, has written a penetrating reflection on this very question entitled “Conservative vs. Traditional Catholicism.” In his essay Fr. Ripperger observes that:

some ecclesial documents today do not have any connection to the positions held by the Magisterium prior to the Second Vatican Council. For example, in the document of Vatican II on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, there is not a single mention of the two previous documents that deal with the ecumenical movement and other religions: Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum and Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos. The approach to ecumenism and other religions in these documents is fundamentally different from the approach of the Vatican II document or Ut Unum Sint by Pope John Paul II. While the current Magisterium can change a teaching that falls under non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching, nevertheless, when the Magisterium makes a judgment in these cases, it has an obligation due to the requirements of the moral virtue of prudence to show how the previous teaching was wrong or is now to be understood differently by discussing the two different teachings. However, this is not what has happened. The Magisterium since Vatican II often ignores previous documents which may appear to be in opposition to the current teaching, leaving the faithful to figure out how the two are compatible, such as in the cases of Mortalium Animos and Ut Unum Sint. This leads to confusion and infighting within the Church as well as the appearance of contradicting previous Church teaching without explanation or reasoned justification.

Moreover, the problem is not just with respect to the Magisterium prior to Vatican II but even with the Magisterium since the Council. For instance, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1975 (“Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics,” as found in the official English translation of the Vatican by The Wanderer Press, 128 E. 10th St., St. Paul, MN 55101) asserts the following regarding masturbation: “The main reason is that, whatever the motive for acting this way, the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty.” This indicates that regardless of one’s intention or motive, the act is in itself gravely immoral. Then, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,8 a definition is given that seems to allow for different intentions to modify whether such an act is evil or not: “Masturbationis nomine intelligere oportet voluntarium organorum genitalium excitationem, ad obtinendam ex ea veneream voluptatem” (“by the name masturbation must be understood the voluntary excitement of the genital organs to obtain venereal pleasure”). The last part of the definition therefore includes in the act of masturbation a finality – “to obtain venereal pleasure.” This appears to contradict the prior teaching of the Church as well as the teaching of the CDF. If one does not do it for the sake of pleasure, does that mean that it is not masturbation? For example, if one commits this act for the sake of determining one’s fertility, does this justify it? One can rectify the situation by arguing that when it is done for the sake of pleasure it is an instance of masturbation, but that the actual definition is what the Church has always held. Clearly, however, this example is testimony to how careless the Magisterium has become in its theological expression.

I think that it would be helpful for the reader to pause for a moment and reflect on the question, “Does the later definition of the evil of Onanism contained in the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church supersede the traditional definition reflected in the 1975 declaration by the CDF?”  How one answers this question is crucial for any constructive discussion of the Church’s authoritative teaching on creation and evolution.  On the one hand, the Catechism is an authoritative guide for bishops’ conferences to use in developing their own contemporary catechisms.  On the other hand, the definition contained in the new Catechism leaves out an essential element of the definition that has been used since the time of the Apostles and that is contained in the 1975 declaration.  When faced with a contradiction of this kind, should the faithful follow the more recent teaching because it necessarily reflects the guidance of the Holy Spirit?  If so, does this mean that Onanism performed for the sake of obtaining a child through in vitro fertilization is now an acceptable moral action for Catholics?  Or does the informed Catholic have an obligation to evaluate the more recent teaching in the light of the constant teaching–the “traditional doctrine”–of the Church?

The Church has always taught that an authoritative Magisterial teaching must take precedence over a less authoritative teaching on the same topic, especially when the latter teaching is ambiguous or contradicts the prior teaching. There are many examples of this in Church history.  In an article on Pope St. Zosimus, the Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

Not long after the election of Zosimus the Pelagian Coelestius, who had been condemned by the preceding pope, Innocent I, came to Rome to justify himself before the new pope, having been expelled from Constantinople. In the summer of 417 Zosimus held a meeting of the Roman clergy in the Basilica of St. Clement before which Coelestius appeared. The propositions drawn up by the deacon Paulinus of Milan, on account of which Coelestius had been condemned at Carthage in 411, were laid before him. Coelestius refused to condemn these propositions, at the same time declaring in general that he accepted the doctrine expounded in the letters of Pope Innocent and making a confession of faith which was approved. The pope was won over by the shrewdly calculated conduct of Coelestius, and said that it was not certain whether the heretic had really maintained the false doctrine rejected by Innocent, and that therefore he considered the action of the African bishops against Coelestius too hasty. He wrote at once in this sense to the bishops of the African province, and called upon those who had anything to bring against Coelestius to appear at Rome within two months. Soon after this Zosimus received from Pelagius also an artfully expressed confession of faith, together with a new treatise by the heretic on free will. The pope held a new synod of the Roman clergy, before which both these writings were read. The skillfully chosen expressions of Pelagius concealed the heretical contents; the assembly held the statements to be orthodox, and Zosimus again wrote to the African bishops defending Pelagius and reproving his accusers, among whom were the Gallic bishops, Hero and Lazarus. Archbishop Aurelius of Carthage quickly called a synod, which sent a letter to Zosimus in which it was proved that the pope had been deceived by the heretics. In his answer Zosimus declared that he had settled nothing definitely, and wished to settle nothing without consulting the African bishops. After the new synodal letter of the African council of 1 May, 418, to the pope, and after the steps taken by the Emperor Honorius against the Pelagians, Zosimus recognized the true character of the heretics. He now issued his “Tractoria”, in which Pelagianism and its authors were condemned. Thus, finally, the occupant of the Apostolic See at the right moment maintained with all authority the traditional dogma of the Church, and protected the truth of the Church against error (emphasis added)

Defenders of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation do not challenge the legitimacy of Vatican II or of the 1994 Catechism.  Nor do we deny that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have made non-authoritative statements favorable to theistic evolutionism. We simply maintain that an ambiguous, tentative or non-authoritative teaching of a Pope, Bishop, or Council cannot supersede a clear, unambiguous teaching that has been handed down from the Apostles.  Any such tentative or ambiguous teachings on matters of faith and morals must be understood in light of previous clear and authoritative magisterial teachings on those matters, if any have been handed down.  In regard to creation and evolution, we have demonstrated that a great number of highly authoritative magisterial teachings have upheld special creation and the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11.

Advocates for theistic evolution will object that cosmological or biological evolution are hypotheses in natural science and cannot be excluded by the Church’s creation theology.  And it is true that Pope John Paul II believed his scientific advisors when they asserted that everything in the universe (except for man’s soul) could have evolved through natural processes after the creation ex nihilo of some material elements and natural laws in the beginning.  But the Pope never cited any evidence that their opinion was true beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, Pope John Paul II’s endorsement of the evolutionary hypothesis was always tentative and never obliged our assent.  For example, in one Wednesday audience he stated:

It can therefore be said that, from the viewpoint of the doctrine of the faith, there are no difficulties in explaining the origin of man, in regard to the body, by means of the theory of evolution. It must, however, be added that this hypothesis proposes only a probability, not a scientific certainty.

Furthermore, in his famous speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1996, the Holy Father admitted:

A theory’s validity depends on whether or not it can be verified; it is constantly tested against the facts; wherever it can no longer explain the latter, it shows its limitations and unsuitability.  It must then be rethought.

One of the main reasons why evolution still appears to many Catholics to be a credible hypothesis is that it has not been subjected to rigorous critical examination in the public forum.  In his encyclical letter Humani generis in 1950, Pope Pius XII asked that Catholic scholars examine the evidence for and against the hypothesis of human evolution.  However, in the last 62 years only a handful of Catholic universities and research centers have given any attention to the serious shortcomings of the evolutionary hypothesis. On the eve of his election to the papacy, then-Cardinal Ratzinger approved the publication, in English, of his work Truth and Tolerance in which he observed:

There is . . . no getting around the dispute about the extent of the claims of the doctrine of evolution as a fundamental philosophy . . . This dispute has therefore to be approached objectively and with a willingness to listen, by both sides-something that has hitherto been undertaken only to a limited extent (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), pp. 179-181).

This statement was all the more remarkable in light of the fact that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has long refused to give any serious consideration to the scientific evidence against the evolutionary hypothesis, while defending a number of positions on other issues that are highly questionable from a Catholic point of view.  (Questionable positions advocated by publications of the PAS include limiting family size to two children; using the so-called “brain death” criteria to determine human death; and using GMO food to combat world hunger.)  During the Darwin year, the organizers of a PAS conference on evolution refused to allow any scientists to present compelling scientific evidence against the evolutionary hypothesis, even when Ph.D. level Catholic scientists offered to do so at their own expense (Cf. ).

In reality, the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church–upheld by all of the Fathers and Doctors without exception–has been that the origin of man and the universe is not a question for the natural sciences but for theology.  In the Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas summed up the common view of the Fathers and Doctors that:

In the works of nature, creation does not enter, but is presupposed to the work of               nature (ST, I q. 45, a. 8.).

In  other words, according to St. Thomas and all the Fathers, natural processes and operations are not themselves instances of God’s creative activity; rather, they show His Providence at work in maintaining His prior work of creation, which is presupposed by the way these processes and operations now take place.  In light of this traditional Catholic understanding of the distinction between Creation and Providence, the origin of man and the universe does not fall within the realm of the natural sciences.

Now, if the traditional distinction between creation and providence is correct-and the unanimous teaching of all of the Fathers must be correct on a point of this kind-all the efforts of natural scientists to demonstrate or to observe “the origin of species” in nature or in the laboratory are doomed to failure. And, indeed, this has proven to be the case.  For example, more than seventy years of experiments on fruit flies to produce mutations that would make the fruit fly evolve into something else have failed miserably.  Fruit flies are still fruit flies, and all of the forms produced through induced mutations are inferior to the non-mutant forms.  Indeed, more than 150 years after the publication of Origin of Species, all experimental evidence and observations indicate that the evolutionary hypothesis is still, in the words of Nobel-prize winning biochemist Sir Ernst Chain, “an hypothesis without evidence and against the facts.”

For decades Catholic theistic evolutionists have attempted to defend evolution as the “only scientific explanation for origins” on the grounds that “natural science” is restricted to explanations in terms of presently-observed natural processes.  “Creation,” they say, is not a “scientific” explanation for the origins of man or of other life-forms, because it does not meet this criterion.  But the Church has always held that “theology” is the “queen of the sciences,” so there is nothing “unscientific” about the traditional doctrine of creation.  It simply acknowledges that there are limits to how far natural scientists can extrapolate from presently-observed material processes back into the remote past.  This is a perfectly reasonable assumption in the light of Divine Revelation about Creation, the Fall, and the Flood, and it is no more “un-provable” than the evolutionists’ assumption that “things have always been the same” since the beginning of creation.

Moreover, by embracing evolution as the “only scientific” explanation for the origin of the different kinds of living things, theistic evolutionists not only jettison the constant teaching of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Councils; they also unintentionally impugn the goodness and wisdom of God.  This is because, unlike St. Thomas and the Fathers and Doctors who taught that God created all of the different kinds of creatures, perfect according to their natures, for man, in a perfectly harmonious cosmos, theistic evolutionists hold that God deliberately produced-through evolutionary processes-many different kinds of creatures only to destroy them so that something more highly evolved could take their place.  Moreover, this evolutionary god used a process of mutation and natural selection that littered the earth with diseased and deformed creatures in the process of producing the alleged “beneficial mutations” that transformed reptiles into birds and chimpanzees into men.  Whatever one wants to call this evolutionary god, it is not the God of the Bible, of the Fathers, and of the Doctors of the Church, of whom St. Thomas says again and again that “all His works are perfect.”


In conclusion, it has been demonstrated that there is an impressive body of highly authoritative magisterial teaching that upholds special creation and the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11.

The burden of proof rests upon the scholar who challenges the traditional interpretation of “the sacred history of Genesis.”

All statements by Church leaders favorable to evolution have been non-authoritative or ambiguous.

One hundred and fifty years after the publication of Origin of Species, the evolutionary hypothesis remains “an hypothesis without evidence and against the facts.”

Therefore, Catholics are obliged to hold fast to the traditional doctrine of creation as it was handed down from the Apostles and to pray that the Magisterium will re-affirm the traditional doctrine of creation as soon as possible, for the good of souls and for the benefit of all the sciences.

May His Kingdom come!

Creation: thoughts on the beginning of time & the flood

Ave Maria!

As has been pointed out repeatedly on this website, all things exist for Jesus Christ, all things were created with Him in mind. He is that God’s perfect Temple, that Masterpiece of God’s created hand where the creature and the divinity unite in the Person of the Word in the hypostatic union of the Incarnation.

Since creation and all history leads to or flows from Christ, it seems fitting that I create some posts on this rather large subject of creation for two reasons. First, because I just spent a long time exposing from Sacred Scripture and Tradition that Jesus Christ is “the beginning of the creation of God” (Apoc 3:14). So obviously I believe in creation as taught by Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church and, therefore, in a beginning of that creation.

Second, because I have noticed that many who espouse the position of Scotus on the Incarnation tend to de-emphasize his (and the Church’s) position on original sin and Redemption and to over-emphasize the cosmic Christ (which is true enough, as seen in St. Paul, but not at the cost of our salvation), and that sometimes they even do this in a way that can lead to a subtle (or not so subtle) form of pantheism. Two figures stand out immediately: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Matthew Fox.

Proclaiming Christ as absolute King of creation in God’s plan, sin or no sin, does not conclude with downplaying (let alone denying) original sin and our need for Redemption. But even in this camp of basic Christian orthodoxy I find that many (most?) espouse a form of theistic evolution. My reflections on this subject are not dogmatic; nonetheless, it is important for Christians in a modern world filled with scientific knowledge and theories to know that the positions that God created the world, and man in particular, without any evolution process and that there was indeed a flood are intelligent and well-founded positions; that the theory of the evolution of man (Darwinism) and of the world (the “big bang theory”) remain theories. In the end, as Catholic theologians continually point out, there can be no contradiction between science and revelation and hence as Catholics we are not afraid of scientific discovery and research. What is important, as Pope Pius XII points out in Humani generis, is that we don’t confuse conjecture with fact and that we stand firm in the profession of our Faith.

Just what are we bound to believe about creation as Catholics? Both Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII touched upon this. Below is a synthesis from James B. Stenson in his article Evolution: A Catholic Perspective [well written and informative, but personlly I don’t accept his tendency to accept theistic evolution and his attempt to frame it into a Catholic framework].

Synthesis of the Church’s teaching under Pope St. Pius X:

The Church has maintained that the first three chapters of Genesis contain historical truth. Their inspired author used a popular literary form of his day to explain certain historical facts of Creation. These were named specifically by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, with the approval of Pope Pius X in 1909. The official document states that the literal historical meaning of the first three chapters of Genesis could not be doubted in regard to: “the creation of all things by God at the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the unity of the human race; the original happiness of our first parents in the state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the command given by God to man to test his obedience; the transgression of the divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a serpent; the degradation of our first parents from that primeval state of innocence; and the promise of a future redeemer.”

From the pen of Pope Pius XII we know:

In 1950, Pope Pius XII addressed the question of man’s origins more specifically in his encyclical *Humani Generis*. With a few terse paragraphs, he set forth the Church’s position, which we may summarize as follows: 1. The question of the origin of man’s *body* from pre-existing and living matter is a legitimate matter of inquiry for natural science. Catholics are free to form their own opinions, but they should do so cautiously; they should not confuse fact with conjecture, and they should respect the Church’s right to define matters touching on Revelation. 2. Catholics must believe, however, that the human *soul* was created immediately by God. Since the soul is a spiritual substance it is not brought into being through transformation of matter, but directly by God, whence the special uniqueness of each person. 3. All men have descended from an individual, Adam, who has transmitted original sin to all mankind. Catholics may not, therefore,
believe in “polygenism,” the scientific hypothesis that mankind descended from a group of original humans.

Let me immediately point out the obvious: those that hold that God created man from the elements of the earth without any evolutionary process have no fear of being in error regarding the doctrine of the Church; whereas those who propose a theistic evolution that does not contradict all that has been said have a lot of “i”s to dot and “t”s to cross so as not to trample down what has been revealed to us. If anyone wants to really dig into the theology, philosophy and science on this subject without fear of straying from the faith, I would highly recommend the articles presented by The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation.

For me personally, I find it ironic that so much “faith” has been put in the far-fetched theory of man’s evolution from beasts. No species has ever evolved into another. And if apes were transforming into homo sapiens, wouldn’t there witnesses to half men/ half apes walking around over the millenia? Would there not be some writings or drawings of these incidences? And yet no one has ever mentioned such a thing and the written record we do have – complete with accounts and geneologies from the beginning – tells of creation, of sin, of a flood, and of the beginnings of human history in God’s creation. Believing in a theory which has little, if any scientific evidence, and disbelieving what was passed on to us from the time of our first parents and even written down with considerable detail, seems a bit rash. But that’s just me. And I certainly find it degrading to man, let alone the “Son of man,” to say that we derived (even “theistically”) from apes.

Regarding the “big bang theory,” before the creation of Adam and Eve there can be discussion of how God created the universe; but what is a nonnegotiable is that God created the universe out of nothing – what can be discussed (and God-willing I hope tackle some aspects of this) is just what went on when God said, “Fiat lux!” (Gen 1:3) over the initial empty and void of the material world He had created out of nothing (v.2).

Let me leave off evolution for the moment (both human and global) and let me focus for the moment on how time has to have a beginning and on how young the human race actually is with two short arguments.

A beginning

Logically speaking, there has to be a beginning of time. If you’re interested in an excellent presentation on this – using the insights of the Seraphic Doctor St. Bonaventure – you can read Dr. Michael Sullivan’s piece (well worth the time and thought). Time must have a beginning. Why? Because the past qua past cannot be infinite by virtue of the fact that in order for any moment to have been a real moment in time it had to pass through the present moment. All past moments, having passed through the present moment, must always be a finite distance from the present – otherwise, if it were infinite then there would be a “past” that is immeasurably distant from the present, a past “moment” that never happened because it never passed throught the present moment.

Dr. Sullivan uses a splendid analogy of “debts” and “promissory notes” to help illustrate this:

If future years are like promissary notes, past years are like debts which have already been paid to reach the free and clear state of the present. Thus Bonaventure insists that it makes no sense to wave one’s hand at an infinitely and indefinitely distant past without relating it to the present. Either some given past year has an infinite distance from the present, or it doesn’t. If not, then the past is finite. But if it does, then since that infinite distance cannot have been traversed, it must really be a kind of simultaneous eternity with no real relation to the present at all, a year which was never passed through to reach the present, a year that the world now cannot count as having once experienced as part of its journey to reach the present now.

A word on the flood

The flood really took place, and this is recorded not only in the Bible, but in practically every civilization that left writings or art behind. But it is also recorded in the history of the earth – called geology. Perhaps the best researched site on the subject of science and the flood (and creation) is They have many articles, but this one on six geological evidences for the flood is particularly convincing and well done.

I personally have visited three waterfalls/gorges that clearly indicate that about 4000-6000 years ago water started flowing and eroding the ground which can be seen visibly and calculated to give decent ballpark figure of when that flow of water began: Niagara Falls, Taughannock Falls, and the Gola Infernaccio (Italy).

Man’s Millions-of-years Myth

Let me propose an argument, rather simple, but which should convincingly indicate that the human race – whether through evolution or as an intact race – cannot date tens or hundreds of thousands of years back (let alone millions and zillions!). The argument is based on population growth and the 7 billion people on earth as of 2012. Seven BILLION people is a LOT of people and so one can readily imagine that it took tens of thousands of years to reach this point. And yet 7 billion is a very finite number…

According to sociological studies (frequently quoted and well documented by those who want to “save” the earth and reduce the human population by 90-95%, if you think I’m kidding take a glance at the “Georgia guidestones” and listen/read what Ted Turner has been saying like a broken record: 350 million ideal number for the entire world population and international 1 child per family policy), the rough average of population growth in the early 1900’s (before contraception, legalized abortion, etc.) was 1.4%. We are told that Noah entered the ark with his three sons and their wives; when they exited the ark the world population was eight. Now population growth presumes that the number of births is greater than the number of deaths. God blessed mankind twice with the words: “Increase and multiply” (Gen 1:28; 7:17), the second time was after Noah and his family left the ark.

My dad was an actuary, by the way, so this type of story problem is right up my alley 🙂 First, let’s start by doing the math based on a 1.4% annual increase of the population starting with eight persons and see how many years it would take to arrive at 7 billion. The math would look like this:

p*b y = x

p = the starting population, so 8
b = rate of annual growth, we’ll start with 1.4% (which means 1.014) [population growth includes deaths and births]
y = the years, since the growth would be exponential
x = the final population, in our case 7 billion

Drumroll please… yes, eight people with a 1.4% annual growth rate would surpass 7 billion people in a whopping 1481 years. Take a look at the math:

8 people * (1.014 annual growth) 1481 years = 7,003,277,544

That is an eyeopener, is it not? Well, since the human race has obviously been around longer than 1481 years, let’s work our way backwards to see what the median growth rate would have had to be for eight persons to arrive at 7 billion over a period of 4600 years (what Scripture scholars tell us would have been the time of the flood).

p*b y = x
8 people*(? growth rate) 4600 years = 7 billion today

And the answer is that for eight people to surpass 7 billion over a period of 4600 years the annual growth rate would only have to be 0.45% (yes, less than half a percent annual growth rate). 4600 years is realistic, then, for arriving at 7 billion people from 4 married couples.

My point here is that to argue that man dates back tens of thousands or more years ago would go completely against all the statistics. Annually there are consistently more births than deaths (that’s not to say that there were not years where the death rate surpassed the birth rate, just as there were years – like the baby boom years – where the growth rate surpassed 2%). Even now with world wars, abortions, sterilization, contraception – in a word, in a culture of death the growth continues and this exponentially. In fact a growth rate of 0.45% from 2 people over a twenty thousand year period comes out to be “infinity” on the exponents calculator (just put 1.0045 in the number slot and 20,000 in the exponent slot and see what happens). I don’t deny that there could have been some unlikely years of decrease or stagnancy, but the consistent trend has always been growth and increase and this indicates (if not outright proves) that the human race is relatively young compared to the outlandish theories that are proposed (dare I say dogmatically) in classrooms today around the globe.

Look, for example, at this graph of world population growth taken from Wikipedia:

Clearly there is nothing nonsensical about saying that the entire world population came from four married couples after the flood around 4500-5000 years ago. Actually, to say that the human population goes back indefinitely or even tens of thousands of years is impossible to prove and even against the information that we have

At any rate, if you have read this far, well, God bless you! I want to look more at evolution and big bang theories. So…

to be continued

His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke blesses statue of Bl. John Duns Scotus, video & homily

Ave Maria!

On December 12th, 2012, His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke blessed a newly unveiled statue of Blessed John Dun Scotus in front of the Friary Chapel at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI. Following the ceremony His Eminence gave an account of the Blessed’s life and the great theological contribution he made to the Church, especially in regards to the declaration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To read the full text of the Cardinal’s talk please click here.

Easter Novena of Masses


Enrollment includes a Novena Mass card and a CD of sacred music

A Novena of Latin Masses will be offered by the contemplative branch of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate at both of their Ritiro Mariano Friaries in Italy. The intention of the Novena is for THE SANCTIFICATION OF ALL FAMILIES (or persons) enrolled in the Novena.
The eighteen Masses (2 each day!) will begin at the Easter Vigil Mass on March 30th and will conclude on Divine Mercy Sunday April 7th.
The suggested donation for enrollment in the Novena is $20 which includes an enrollment Mass card which will be sent to each family (or person) enrolled.


With every enrollment and Mass card we will include the CD Ecce Panis Angelorum – a beautiful recording of sacred choral music by the Northern Rhode Island Schola Sancte Ceciliae!!!

Enroll a Family/Person now:

N.B. Mailing of the Novena Mass cards will start on March 4th.
DEADLINE for enrollments to include the Mass card and CD is Palm Sunday, March 24th.
All enrollments after March 24th WILL be included in the intentions of the Masses but will NOT receive the Mass card and CD.


Catch the Easter spirit… enroll your family and loved ones in our Easter Novena of Masses!

If you have any difficulties enrolling or any questions, please contact us at our email address. For the information for making your donation you can go to the Donation page

Thank you for your support and be assured of our perpetual prayers (before, during and after the Novena!).

Mind Blowing, Franciscan Thoughts, on the Incarnation by Bl. John Duns Scotus

Ave Maria!

For anyone who is interested, I just found this Christmas blog post on the absolute primacy of Christ on the website of Frank Weathers, a recent (and somewhat reluctant, at first) convert to the Catholic Faith. Here is an excerpt:

Wow. Basically, this makes the Incarnation the pinnacle of God’s work of creation. He wills Christ first of all as the summum opus Dei, and his love for us, and for the angelic hosts, is so vast that God planned to enter into his handiwork “before the foundation of the world,” without his doing so being contingent upon mankind sinning. Which helps explain why Satan, and his followers, rebelled and started a war in heaven. I clearly remember being taught this in RCIA, by the priest teaching our class. Lucifer rebelled when he learned that God intended to become human. The idea that God would enter into the glory of his creation as a human, “lower than the angels,” was repugnant to Lucifer. And contrary to Humphrey’s thinking in the preface to his digest, St. Thomas did not refute any of this, as he made obvious while pondering this mystery.

“Wow” is right. The biggest surprise is when we are surprised by the truth. “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:3).

In Corde Matris,
fr maximilian mary dean, F.I.

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Ave Maria!

Today, the great feast of lights, Candlemas, also known as the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and the Purification of the Madonna, is a day of the fulfillment of a great mystery, hidden from times past, but now revealed to us in Christ.

“And presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the Angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to His Temple. Behold He cometh, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Mal 3:1)

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Holy Simeon is impelled to enter the Temple. He had been promised to see the Messias before he died and today was that happy day. He was so overwhelmed by this grace and so aware of whom he held in his arms that he exclaimed:

“Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace;

because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:

a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and a glory for Thy people Israel.” (Lk 2:29-32)

Of this mystery St. Augustine writes that Simeon… “Differabatur exire de saeculo, ut videret natum, per quem conditum est saeculum — he deferred leaving this world in order that he might see Him born by whom the world was created” (Sermo 13 de temp. post init.). In the Infant Jesus the Holy Simeon saw his Creator. In fact, as we have clearly shown elsewhere, the entire creation was made in, through and for Christ the Word Incarnate.

The entire universe was made with Christ in mind, modelled on Him. Today He enters the Temple, He who is the supreme Temple of God’s praises: Jesus Christ.

Praised be Jesus Christ!