John Young, in his disagreement with my letter (September AD2000), is astray on several points.
He claims as "doubtless" the passage I refer to in Pope Leo III's 1880 encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae is the one in which Leo wrote of God making man from the slime of the earth on the sixth day. I actually wrote that Leo XIII taught that Adam and Eve were specially created and that the body of Eve was created from a portion of Adam's body, and am astonished that John did not mention my crucial latter point.
No serious evolutionist would support evolution of the male human being and not the female, and so Leo XIII, via theological reality, effectively pulled the rug out from under the possibility of naturalistic human evolution; he left no room whatsoever for it. (See Fr Brian Harrison OS, Living Tradition, January 1998, Did The Human Body Evolve Naturally? A Forgotten Papal Declaration). Alternative concepts of theistic evolution and special transformism are highly fanciful and lacking in credibility.
John Young misunderstands my position regarding special creation. God created all matter ex nihilo immediately at the instant of Creation, and rapidly brought forth life forms mediately using initially created matter during the subsequent creation days. Robert Sungenis has shown that the majority of Church Fathers held such creation to be "in its whole substance". Mr Sungenis, a rigorous Biblical scholar with a strong interest in ancient languages, was one of fourteen speakers at the First International Catholic Creation Conference held last June in Manassas, Virginia.
A Pope may declare against human evolution on doctrinal grounds and yet he or another Pope - perhaps not wishing to intrude upon science per se - may allow research into Origins, but if such findings are found to contradict Tradition he is eventually bound to reject them (à la Paul VI and contraception).
The private statements of John Paul II have to be seen in light of weightier Papal encyclical teachings. Unfortunately he has been imprecise in his references to "evolution". Does he mean macro- or micro-evolution? The difference in meaning is vast. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences contains 86 members and apparently all are evolutionists. How ironic that there is at least one atheist in their ranks, the famous UK cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who rejects the idea of Creation!
John Young would surely agree that all doctrine declared by Popes should be taught rigorously.
Lower Templestowe, Vic