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Pope Francis believes in Big Bang and evolution, is not a communist

Pope Francis will have you know he does not believe in magic.

But he does believe in the Big Bang and evolution in nature.

The Big Bang theory and evolution in nature “do not contradict” the creation account in the Bible, Francis said Monday. His remarks came as he unveiled a bronze bust of Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

“The Big Bang, that today is considered to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the creative intervention of God; on the contrary, it requires it. Evolution in nature is not in contrast with the notion of [divine] creation because evolution requires the creation of the beings that evolve,” he said, as reported by NBC.

“When we read in Genesis the account of creation [we are] in danger of imagining that God was a magician, complete with a magic wand that can do all things. But he is not.”

Francis also said Monday he believes his predecessor was a “great pope,” even though NBC noted his remarks appear to be a theological break from Benedict.

“Benedict XVI: a great pope, great for the strength and penetration of his intelligence, great for his contribution to theology, great for his love of the church and all humans, great for his virtues and religiosity,” he said.

Still, the current pope is not the first pontiff to express his openness to the theories, according to the Independent: Pope Pius XII “actively welcomed” the Big Bang theory, it said, and John Paul II called the theory of evolution an “effectively proven fact”.

At a separate event Tuesday, Francis delivered one of the longest speeches of his pontificate, saying the poor need land, a roof over their heads and work.

“If I talk about this, some will think that the pope is communist,” he told the World Meeting of Popular Movements.

“They don’t understand that love for the poor is at the center of the Gospel. Demanding this isn’t unusual, it’s the social doctrine of the church.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.