A friend of mine in teaching theology has wound up needing sources on the question of whether a Catholic must believe all humans are descended from one pair of humans (monogenesis) or whether one may believe there was a larger initial population from which we descend (polygenesis). She has Pius XII’s Humani Generis, but that, as authoritative as it may be, remains only one encyclical, and she would like a better grasp of the Church’s statements on the matter and the tradition of Her teaching. Can anyone point me to more texts that would flesh out the question for us?
Humani Generis is authoritative, I guess you could try and look up the Church’s teaching on original sin. Trent. We have to be decended from just one couple otherwise there would have to have been multiple falls.
This is an interesting topic! While the CCC teaches a single set of parents per Pius XII, John Paul II went silent on that question when discussing evolution and the Vatican let the German conference of bishops publish a catechism–put out by Ignatius Press in America–that treats this as an open question.
As Jimmy Akin points out here:
*Pius XII did not say that monogenism is a dogma of the faith (“de fide”). What he said was that Catholics did not have the liberty to discuss the idea that polygenism is true because it is “in no way apparent” how it could be reconciled with the sources of faith (HG 37). I also pointed out that the Holy See has gone silent on this aspect of Pius XII’s teaching on evolution, while maintaining the other elements of it, which may indicate that it is being rethought.
Further, it should be pointed out that the Code of Canon Law expressly provides that “No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident” (CIC 749 §3).*
Thanks for all the replies so far.