Students react to Pope Francis’ divisive comments

Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration mass on 19 March 2013.

Pope Francis created an uproar when he chimed in on the origins of humanity debate, declaring that a Creator, the big bang theory and evolution are concurrent with each other, not divergent, but USM Catholic students agreed with his views.

  The pope was addressing an assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which was at the Vatican to discuss “Evolving Concepts of Nature,” USA Today reported.

“(When reading Genesis), we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that was not so,” Francis said, “He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach
their fulfillment.”

The world was not “a work of chaos,” according to Francis. Instead, the principle of love created the world. He concluded that the oftentimes competing beliefs between creation and evolution are able to co-exist.

“God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” the pope said, “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

However, this is not a radical idea in Catholicism. Unlike Protestant church doctrine in the United States, Catholic teachings on evolution have traditionally not been at odds. Pope Pius XII said there was no contradiction in 1950, and in 1996, St. John Paul II reaffirmed that position.

Some thought Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – the predecessor to Francis – was trying to backpedal and distance the Church’s stance regarding evolution, USA
Today reported.

Francis made the seemingly controversial speech while revealing a bust in honor of Benedict. With regards to his predecessor, Francis said, “Benedict XVI was a great pope: great for the power and penetration of his intellect, great for his significant contribution to theology, great for his love of the church and of human beings, great for his virtue and piety.”

Some Catholic students at USM find the new pope revitalizing and appreciate the direct approach he takes when entering debates.

“I think Pope Francis has a great way of showing and teaching the world what it really means to be Christian,” said Candi Wilson, a junior recording industry production major. She also thinks the idea that the Catholic Church is just now keeping up with
the times.

“What Pope Francis is teaching is the same as the popes before him,” Wilson said. “I think he just has the charismatic traits that the church has needed in
their leaders.”

“I find most of Pope Francis’s remarks refreshing, and I appreciate him trying to move the Catholic church forward,” said Caroline DePuma, a senior international business major. “The Pope’s speaking out about such controversial topics starts discussion which leads to better understanding of the Catholic doctrine. The Catholic church is often viewed as stagnant and Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air that reminds us that as Catholics we should be accepting of all people.”

Other Catholic USM students are welcoming of Francis and
his comments.

“I really support Pope Francis, and I really believe in everything that he is bringing to the table,” said Emily Gruzinskas, a sophomore microbiology major.  “He is bringing very positive change to our world.”

She thinks modernization of the Catholic church and acceptance of people who “aren’t exactly like us in every single way” is a positive change – even if it is only a perception from the outside – for Catholicism.

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