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Original Sin, Evolution & Church Teaching

Dr. Remi Amelunxen

There is a general tendency in the post-Conciliar Church to deny original sin, an error that touches the spiritual life of every Catholic.

Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani testifies that this tendency was broadly infiltrating Theology shortly after the Council. In a private letter he sent in 1966 to all the Bishops of the world, he listed 10 principal errors troubling the Church at that time. The first was the denial of the biblical inspiration and the historical objectivity of the revealed texts, included those of Genesis on original sin.

Cardinal Ottaviani

Ottaviani's letter to the Bishops tells them to accept and implement Vatican II
Card. Ottaviani (1890-1979) was considered by many traditionalists a champion of orthodoxy. He was named cardinal by Pope Pius XII in 1953 and was Secretary of the Holy Office from 1959-1966. He was a leading conservative voice at Vatican II pointing out several doctrinal deviations in its documents. Also later, the Ottaviani-Bacci intervention showing the progressivist dangers of the Novus Ordo Mass became well known.

Unfortunately, as that 1966 letter to the Bishops clearly showed, the Prefect of the Holy Office accepted the Council fully, without reservations, telling the Bishops that the Council had promulgated “very wise documents concerning both doctrine and discipline.” He also counseled the Hierarchy “to strive with all earnestness to put into practice everything that was solemnly proposed or decreed by that vast gathering of Bishops [Vatican II] under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” (original emphasis)

He continued that the documents and decrees of the Council need only be “rightly interpreted.” Therefore, the supposed champion of orthodoxy was instructing all the Prelates to accept and put into practice those very teachings of the Council that fostered the errors he criticized in his letter, including the denial of the Genesis account of original sin.

Denial of original sin based on evolution

Ottavianni’s warning to the Bishops about the erroneous interpretation of Scriptures included the third chapter of Genesis, i.e., the fall of man, original sin. The progressivist denial of original sin is included in the rejection of the very existence of Adam and Eve, our first parents.

Chardin Piltdown man

Chardin with the Piltdown Man he helped "discover" - later proved a hoax
This rejection rests on a belief in the theory of the evolution of man from lower forms of life proposed by Charles Darwin with his 1859 work On the Origin of Species. A translation of Darwin’s speculations to Catholic Doctrine was attempted by the French philosopher Henri Bergson and his disciples, the modernists Edouard Le Roy and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Le Roy was included in the condemnation of Modernism, but Teilhard escaped the direct condemnation and made those same theses reborn in the 1920s and 1930s.

The theory of evolution is easily disproved by scientific evidence – many prominent scientists including Nobel Laureates in diverse branches of science repudiate it. (1) Notwithstanding, it continued to be embraced and upheld by progressivists, to whom the modernists passed their torch.

The first disastrous effect of that evolutionist theory applied to Catholic Doctrine is that it supposes that God created an imperfect man. The evil and bloodshed that have ravaged the world through the centuries is a negative factor inherent to the low stage of evolution man is in, but has little to do with moral guilt. This is not what the Church teaches.

Church teaching on original sin

In Genesis, we read that after creating man, “God saw all the things He had made and they were all very good” (1:31). Man was created perfect in his nature and adorned with all the supernatural benefits of divine grace. This is what the Church calls the state of innocence or natura integra [state of nature without defects].

Creation boccacio

An illumination of the account of Genesis
In the Garden of Eden, a true paradise, our first parents, Adam and Eve, were tested. God gave them a choice between good or evil; they chose evil and lost that glorious participation in divine grace and their state of original justice. Man became prone to error in his intelligence, evil in his will and subject to disorder in his passions; his body became subject to illnesses and death. (Gen 3: 1-3, 14-20)

This original sin of the first parents was inherited by all of Adam’s posterity by descent (excepting the Blessed Virgin Mary). Adam’s guilt is transmitted through heredity by bloodline. To rescue mankind from this hereditary guilt, Christ took on human flesh, born of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified on Calvary and died to achieve the redemption of mankind. St Paul speaks of this in chapter 5 of the Romans.

The Sacrament of Baptism restores us to the participation of divine grace through the merits of the Redemption of Jesus Christ.

This has been the constant teaching of the Church on original sin up to Vatican II. (2)

It was the Pelagian heresy in 415 that affirmed that original sin was not transmitted from father to child. For his heresy, Pelagius was excommunicated. Since the condemnation of that heresy, the transmission of original sin was reaffirmed at the Council of Trent on June 17, 1546, as well as by other Church Councils and innumerable Doctors including St. Thomas Aquinas.

Rejection of the Genesis account rests on evolution

What rationale is there for rejecting the creation of man in Genesis?

As noted above, this denial is based on the arbitrary theory of evolution, a theory that has never been proved.

Despite this lack of solid scientific proof, we have seen the theory of evolution be taught as fact in our schools from grade school to university levels. More devastating to the Faith, many Catholic seminary professors assure their students that this theory, contrary to fact, has been demonstrated.

Rejection of Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium on creationism is a denial of the truths contained in Genesis. St. Pius X, through the Biblical Commission, issued a severe condemnation of this Modernist heresy, forbidding that any other interpretation except for the literal one be given to these chapters of Genesis. (3)

Immaculate Conception

Denial of original sin implies the rejection of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception
This censure, along with many others, sent the modernists underground for a few decades. But, before long, the progressivists were alleging the possibility of a “scientific” interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis. (4) After the Council, the progressivists – now with Vatican support following its openness to the modern world – began to promote and teach evolutionary theories openly

This great emphasis on evolution represents the virtual destruction of Catholicism. For, if Adam and Eve did not exist, there is no such thing as original sin. If one rejects the dogma of original sin, there was no need to be redeemed from it. If there is no need for a Redeemer, then there is no need for Our Lord Jesus Christ to become man and die on the Cross for our sins.

It follows as a consequence that there is no need for the Sacraments, which are a way to distribute the graces of Redemption. Also, in the Mass there is no sacrifice, and the memorial meal of the Protestants suffices. (5)

Further, if one denies the dogma of original sin, he automatically rejects the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that is, that she was conceived without original sin. In 1854 Pius IX solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and, four years later in 1858, Our Lady told Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

In brief, by following the modern fashion of evolution, Progressivism sweeps away the following dogmas: inerrancy of the Bible as revealed by God, original sin, Redemption of Jesus Christ, the value of Baptism and the other Sacraments, and the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.

The heresy of Pelagius has returned in our day, much worse than it was in the past. Canons of councils and papal decrees have been carelessly disregarded by progressivist theologians. Without hesitation they deny original sin and have no fear of exclusion from Catholic seminaries, where they continue to teach that evolution is a fact and there is no original sin. Such clerics are not shepherds but wolves, causing the loss of immortal souls.

Still to be analyzed is the great influence of the theses of Teilhard de Chardin even on Cardinals, such as Cardinal Pell of Australia, and Popes, such as Benedict XVI. This will be the subject of the next article.

1. Gerard Keane, Creation Rediscovered, Doncaster, Australia, Credis Pty Ltd., 1991, pp 41, 79, 81, 101, 115, 123, 151.
2. This is set out in The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Fr. Ludwig Ott, and repeats the teaching in the Decree Super peccato originali, Council of Trent, sess. V, 1546, which follows the decisions of the Synods of Carthage and of Orange, St. Louis: Herder Book Co, 1960, 4th ed., p. 108. See also Chapter IV.3 in Atila S. Guimaraes, Animus Injuriandi II, p. 212-213.
3. Guimaraes, Animus Injuriandi II, pp. 214-215, footnote 42.
4. As shown in Animus Injuriandi II, ibid.
5. Fr. John W. Flanagan, Introduction to A Periscope on Teilhard de Chardin,

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Posted June 11, 2012

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