The Church of England owes Charles Darwin an apology for its hostile 19th-century reaction to the naturalist’s theory of evolution, a high ranking cleric wrote on an Anglican Web site.

The Rev Malcolm Brown, who heads the church’s public affairs department, issued the statement to mark Darwin’s bicentenary and the 150th anniversary of the seminal work “On the Origin of Species,” both of which fall next year.

So, of course, the press thinking they have the next Galileo on their hands and rushed to ask a Vatican official if an apology would be forthcoming. The response they got is priceless.

According to Earth Times: Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi said today that the Roman Catholic Church has no intention of issuing an apology to Charles Darwin for the religious controversies around his theory of evolution. Abp. Ravaso called the Church of England’s apology, “curious and significant,” but added that it “indicates the cultural differences between us.”

Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told the group of reporters that the Church doesn’t have a problem with the theory of evolution. Ravasi stressed that, unlike many Protestants, the Catholic Church never condemned Darwin or his book, the Origin of the Species.

The poor journalists must have been having their worldview turned over, the poor things.

Evolution theory “is not incompatible from the outset with the teachings of the Catholic Church, nor the message of the Bible,” Ravasi said.

But then here comes the priceless line that Ravasi dropped on the press: “Maybe we need to abandon the habit of issuing apologies and treating history as if it were a court always in session.” Oomph. That meant ‘get away from me with your silly questions.’