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Pope embraces Big Bang, says God is not a ‘magician’

Watch the video above: Pope Francis says Big Bang Theory, Evolution do not conflict with church views

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has made some of the most important policy speeches of his pontificate in recent days, catching up for lost time following months of attention to bureaucratic reform and the turbulent meeting of bishops on family issues that just ended.

Often speaking in his native Spanish, Francis has focused on issues close to his heart — the plight of the poor and unemployed, the environment and even evolution, seemingly emboldened to speak his mind on topics that must make even some of his closest collaborators squirm.

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He hasn’t changed church doctrine. But he has pushed the envelope on some issues, raised eyebrows with his blunt speaking style on others, and made clear where his progressive social priorities lie. Here are some highlights from a busy week at the Vatican, with issues that Francis might raise again when he makes a major policy speech to the European Parliament next month.

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Francis raised some eyebrows with his remarks on creation and evolution, saying the Big Bang theory doesn’t contradict the Christian belief in creation. While his words were very Franciscan in their bluntness — “When we read the story of Creation in Genesis we risk imagining that God was a magician” — Francis was merely restating what the Catholic Church has long taught: that there is no contradiction between creation and evolution.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI spent his entire pontificate elaborating on the compatibility of faith and scientific reason, insisting that the cosmos isn’t a system of random chaos but rather an organized system where the hand of the Creator is obvious. St. John Paul II and Pope Pius XII voiced similar conclusions before him.

Francis put the church’s thinking in his own words: “Evolution in nature doesn’t contradict the notion of creation because evolution presupposes the creation of beings who evolve,” he said.