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As Pope Francis begins his first visit to the U.S., we're taking a look at the leader of the Catholic Church and his influence around the world. There's been a great deal of discussion over remarks made by Pope Francis earlier this year, when he appealed to Catholic bishops to take action against climate change. He went on to say that human activity was directly impacting global warming.
It's the most recent instance of Francis reaching out to the scientific community. He's stated his support for evolution and believes that the world was not created in just seven days as described in the Bible. He said evolution of species is a ""reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life." That's the key to his teachings, it seems. Specifically, Francis sees science and religion not as polar opposites, incapable of harmony, but as complementary perspectives that help us better understand our place in the universe. Francis is a major world leader who seems to be looking for common ground at a time when political divisions are stronger than ever.
Related: Can the Pope Really Influence American Politics?
As discussed on this edition of DNews, science has played an important role in the history of Catholicism. Many popes throughout history have supported scientific research. Pope Benedict XIV established the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the 1700s. A Belgian cosmologist and Catholic priest named Georges Lemaître was the first person on record to propose the idea of the Big Bang Theory. More recently, in the 1980s, Pope John Paul II expressed his support for evolution.
It will be interesting to see how Pope Francis' U.S. visit plays out in the week ahead. What do you think of Pope Francis? Let us know in the comments below.
The Pope's Views on Evolution Haven't Really Evolved (The Atlantic)
"Misleading headlines are exactly that: misleading. Those who know little about Catholic history are shocked. The sad part is that some of these articles actually do mention theistic evolution has been a part of Catholic teachings for at least six decades."
Our new pro-science pontiff: Pope Francis on climate change, evolution, and the Big Bang (The Washington Post)
"Creationists try to disrupt the sole teaching of evolution. Religiously driven anti-abortionists come up with dubious scientific arguments for why the procedure is dangerous. Seeing these science and religion conflicts inclines us to believe that science and religion...conflict."