This, for me, is a big deal. I mean, I'm not Catholic, or even religious, but I have been very deeply disturbed by the systematic rejection of evolution in American thought.
Pope Francis has the ability to influence a lot of minds on this issue.
"Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve."
Holy shit. That brings tears to my eyes. I really want to kiss that man.
And better yet, he considers it a "grave sin against the Creator" to destroy the environment, and considers it the duty of scientists to work to preserve it. Hoo boy, the Republicans are not happy about this AT ALL, I'm sure.
He isn't perfect, but he's my favorite pope so far.
This was written up here.
EDIT: Several of you have advised me that the Catholic church has more or less accepted evolution for some time now. I seem to recall some statements to the contrary in recent years, but I would have to look them up. This does seem more like Pope Francis is specifically embracing the theory and encouraging others to accept it, as opposed to saying "we give you permission to believe it." But I would have to do research to really get a feel for what the atmosphere of the last few decades has been - grudging permission, open tolerance, or acceptance.
(Disclaimer: I wrote my senior thesis on the Catholic reaction in England to Darwin's theories. I suspect my Thesis advisor has passed by now, but I may actually try to find out and call her. This is so exciting.)