New Washington DC Archbishop Favours Intelligent Design in Schools

by Hilary White

Bishop Donald WuerlPITTSBURGH, May 16, 2006 ( – The Vatican has announced that Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh will replace Theodore Cardinal McCarrick as archbishop of the Catholic diocese of Washington DC. The Archdiocese of Washington is one of the “red hat” dioceses of the US whose archbishop is customarily made a cardinal, and Wuerl, at 65, is likely to be of voting age at the next papal election.

Last year, Bishop Wuerl threw his support behind the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) as an alternative theory of creation to materialist Darwinism. Bishop Wuerl spoke of the theory’s “reasonableness” and the need to offer students more than one theory of the origins of life.

In an article for the Pittsburgh diocesan newspaper, Wuerl said that ID presented a middle ground between the ardent secularists who deny the origins of life in God and the so-called creationists who refute any development of life. With ID, he wrote, “We recognize both God’s free creation of all that is and the possibility, or even probability, that creation carried within it the plan of development which we can call evolution.”

“Intellectual design in the world is a rational conclusion based on thousands of years of observation and reflection. It is not an “a priori” religious tenant superimposed on the facts. Rather it is the light of reason illuminating the universe.”

Also in 2005, Wuerl issued a formal pastoral letter condemning the use of living human embryos for research that ends their lives. “According to the most recent research,” he wrote, “adult stem cells have produced 140 successful treatments for 56 diseases.”

“Morally, ethically and humanly speaking,” he said, “one cannot justify taking innocent human life for any alleged good that might come from it. …We are not free to stand by and watch as others formulate a whole new culture in which human life is viewed basically as a commodity that can be created for parts that are bought and sold,” he wrote.

In the midst of the controversy, during the last US presidential election in 2004, Bishop Wuerl was hesitant to say that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be refused Holy Communion. In a speech to the Thomas More Society, Wuerl said that “sanctions” had always been considered in the Catholic Church as a last possible resort against those who dissent from Church teaching.

Bishop Wuerl said, “Even when we recognize the special level of moral gravity attached to the taking of innocent human life, once we start down the road of disciplinary action, where does it lead? Should the same actions be taken against those politicians who support or do not oppose legislation undermining other fundamental human values?”

He added that the pastoral tradition of the Church has always placed “the responsibility of such a judgment first on those presenting themselves for Holy Communion.” This view is in conjunction with Cardinal McCarrick’s that pro-abortion and other dissenting Catholic politicians should be encouraged to refrain of their own will from approaching Holy Communion.

Bishop Wuerl has published a catechism titled, ‘The Catholic Way,’ published by Doubleday in September 2001 which is intended as a popular presentation of the longer 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Bishop Wuerl is a past chairman of the board of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Read Bishop Wuerl’s comments on the Intelligent Design controversy:

…and on embryo and stem cell research:

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