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James wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is it forbidden and anathema for Catholics to accept or teach Evolution Origins as fact?
  • Does the Church teach the Bible is totally inerrant or only partially inerrant?

I have heard the phrase: The smoke of Satan has entered the Church.

  • Who said this?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • What was this in reference to?, and
  • Has it been removed or is it still with us?


  { Can Catholics teach evolution as fact, is the Bible totally inerrant, and who said this and when? }

Bob replied:

Dear James,

Check out this link and excerpt below for your answer:

I have long heard about Pope Paul VI having referred to the smoke of Satan having entered the Church. Usually most references to it do not mention when it was said and in what context.

The quote apparently was said on June 29, 1972 by Pope Paul VI on the ninth anniversary of his coronation during a homily given at a Mass on the Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
The Italian text is here. As far as I know there is no official translation.

On November 13, 2006 Jimmy Akin posted a translation on his blog done of a homily by Father Stephanos Pedrano related to this. You may have to scroll down a bit for the start.


Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Hi James,

You said:

  • Is it forbidden and anathema for Catholics to accept or teach Evolution Origins as fact?

This is a common question; it's even in our searchable knowledge base:

There are a lot of quick answers there, so give it a try.

I searched the knowledge base for you and found these web postings that should help:

As my colleague Paul has said in another reply:

The Church teaches that the human person is a body-soul composite and the soul is the form of the body.

So as long as you ascribe to this and that we were all created by God and descended from the same parents, Adam and Eve, one can ascribe to whatever evolution has to offer as long as it does not contradict any matters of Catholic faith and doctrine.

You said:

  • Does the Church teach the Bible is totally inerrant or only partially inerrant?

The Bible (both the Old and New Testament) is totally inerrant, though those who interpret portions of the Scriptures, apart from the Church, can and do, error in their private interpretations.

The Catechism states:

II. Inspiration And Truth Of Sacred Scripture

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)

"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11; cf. John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 3:15-16)

106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)

107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)

108 Still, the Christian faith is not a "religion of the book." Christianity is the religion of the "Word" of God, a word which is "not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living". (St. Bernard, S. missus est hom. 4,11:PL 183,86) If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, "open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures." (cf. Luke 24:45)

I hope this helps,


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