This month marks the 60th anniversary of the papal encyclical “Humani Generis,” that laid out the Catholic Church’s official relationship with Darwinian evolution. The pastoral letter, issued on Aug. 12, 1950 by Pope Pius XII, confirmed, in broad terms, that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the scientific theory of evolution. Considering that this was three years before the nature of DNA was even discovered, the pope’s foresight in deciding to address the topic is remarkable. Eugenio Pacelli, as Pius XII was known until his papacy, 1939-958, was the first pope to regard science and technology as subjects deserving their own encyclicals, or pastoral letters to Catholics world-wide.

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