In a meeting held at the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis declared that The Big Bang and evolution did occur and were a part of God’s plan.

He holds that evolution and creationism are compatible in that “evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

“The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world,” he said, “does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.”

In an effort to welcome modern science into the Church, the Pontiff said the scientific account of the beginning of the universe is true, however, science began with divinity: “[God] created life and let each creature develop according to the natural laws which he had given each one.”

“He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality, and so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today,” the Pope said.

“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician with a magic wand able to do everything, but that is not so,” he told the assembly, declaring that the beginning of the universe was not chaotic and spontaneous.

He believes Christians should instead view the story of Genesis as an “allegory” for how God created life.

According to the Independent, experts say Pope Francis’ speech put to rest some of his predecessor Pope Benedict’s “pseudo-theories” of creationism and intelligent design.

Despite their opposing stances on creationism, Pope Francis praised Pope Benedict for his efforts to rid the Catholic Church of its “anti-science” image dating back to the 1600s, when Galileo was condemned for heresy after saying the earth revolved around the sun.

During his speech, Pope Francis unveiled a bronze bust of his predecessor Pope Benedict.