The Catholic Treasury of Old things and New
We have a treasury of things old and new that are in place to elucidate and answer the often volatile questions about human origins, human nature, original sin, and death in a reasonable manner that validly speaks to paleoanthropologists and prehistoric archeologists who are interested in such questions and who seek a deeper truth.
Those in higher education, scientists, philosophers, theologians, and a great many more thoughtful people remain quite intrigued with the issues of human evolution, human origins, Adam and Eve, original sin and death. Many people are ready to debate these subjects on a moment’s notice, especially if they are Christians or have Christian friends. These topics become even more acute when a practicing Christian or someone who is interested in the Christian faith are faced with these questions. I am a Catholic, so my primary interest is to help answer and address these human evolution and faith issues for Catholics. For me, the term Catholic never simply signifies Roman Catholics. Technically all of those Churches that are in peaceful communion with the Bishop of Rome are Catholics. In the Americas, most people identify Roman/Latin Rite (the most numerous Catholics in the Americas) as accounting for all Catholics. That assumption is gravely mistaken. There are 24 official ways to be a Catholic. Again, canonically all of these Churches have their own particular way of being Catholic. I am “officially” an Eastern Rite Catholic (Melkite Greek Catholic). Raised a Roman or Latin Rite Catholic, I changed Rites as an adult. For over two decades I gathered for public worship according to the Byzantine Rite; quite different from the Latin Rite Tradition (most of my spiritual and prayer life continues to draw upon the liturgical tradition of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church). When I use the term “Catholic” I have in mind all of the 24 different and autocephalus Catholic Rite Churches. In addition, because the Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome officially recognize most Orthodox, Oriental, and Coptic Churches as genuine Churches, based on apostolic succession, commonality of fundamental belief, and true sacraments, they are considered and referred to as genuine sister Churches who are more or less respectful of a special status for the Bishop of Roman. The Anglican Churches, and the Lutheran/Reformed Churches, are distinguished, according to Catholic teaching, as genuine ecclesial communities who frequently parallel many Catholic beliefs, sacraments, and manner of worship. What does all of this mean for the subjects related to human evolution? From my perspective that means many of the truths contained in and held by our separated sister Churches and Ecclesial communities can and do contribute to the Catholic understanding of the Christian Faith relative to many human evolution questions (as well as other significant matters). I will not present the position of any Church bishops or ecclesial scholars who are not in full communion with Rome as normative for Catholics. However, some of those contributions can facilitate a fuller understanding of what the Catholic Church actually teaches concerning faith, science, and human evolution. Nonetheless, those not in full communion with the Catholic Church will be identified as ancillary contributions and never confused with official Catholic teaching.