Sunday 21st December 2014

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Teilhard De Chardin: Dangerous Or Orthodox?

July 28, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

You can see why Catholics in the United States might be confused about where the Church stands on the theories of the French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin. Recently, as reported by David Gibson in Religion News Service, “Gerhard [Cardinal] Mueller, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith,” warned the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the group representing more than 40,000 American sisters, that “the principles of ‘conscious evolution’ — that mankind is transforming thorough the integration of science, spirituality, and technology — are opposed to Christian revelation and lead to fundamental errors.” According to Gibson, Mueller warned that “if the nuns persist in pursuing such dangerous ideas, Rome could cut them loose.”
There is general agreement that the term “conscious evolution” is a reference to the theories of Teilhard (1881-1955), who achieved considerable fame as a philosopher, theologian, geologist, and paleontologist. Teilhard believed, writes Gibson, “that creation is still evolving and that mankind is changing with it; we are, he said, advancing in an interactive ‘noosphere’ of human thought that leads inexorably toward an Omega Point — Jesus Christ — that is pulling all the cosmos to itself.”
There was a time when Rome was highly suspicious of what Teilhard meant by this. In 1962, the Vatican issued a formal warning about the “dangers presented by the works of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and his followers.”
That was then. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as the young theologian Joseph Ratzinger, praised Teilhard’s “great vision” of the cosmos as a “living host.” One of Benedict’s spokesmen, according to Gibson, responded to questions about whether Benedict still felt that way, with a statement that read as follows: “By now, no one would dream of saying that [Teilhard] is a heterodox author who shouldn’t be studied.” Beyond that, there are reports that Pope Francis is likely to make favorable comments about Teilhard in an encyclical on the environment that he is currently writing.
So which is it? Is Rome warning us about Teilhard’s message — as Cardinal Mueller’s strong words to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious would indicate? Or calling upon Catholics to ponder his work for insights into a correct understanding of Catholicism for our time — as the comments of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis seem to say?
Yes, and yes. The problem is that it is possible to interpret Teilhard’s theories in an orthodox manner, in line with Catholic teaching. But it is also possible to interpret them in a far different manner, as a call for an evolving consciousness that leaves no room for the Church and its teachings. We can’t get around it: There are secular humanists and proponents of an eccentric New Age spiritualism who are proponents of Teilhard’s theories. They see them as a vehicle for helping Catholics grow out of what they believe is an immature literal understanding of Jesus’ role in salvation history.
Consider some key passages from Teilhard’s The Divine Milieu. “Nothing is more certain, dogmatically, than that human action can be sanctified; the actions of life, of which we are speaking, should not be understood solely in the sense of religious and devotional works (prayer, fasting, almsgiving).” Christians should “dignify, ennoble, and transfigure in God the duties inherent to one’s station in life, the search for natural truth, and the development of human action.”
Does Teilhard mean by the above that we have an obligation to “remake all things in Christ,” as St. Paul instructed? To live our faith in our daily lives in the manner that a member of Opus Dei would call for? Or is he subtly hinting that we should leave behind the Church’s sacramental life and its concentration on saving our souls in favor of a new Catholicism that stresses transforming the physical world of our earthly existence? Is he placing less stress on prayer and fasting because they make no sense if there is no Creator who will reward us in an afterlife for these spiritual exercises?
Teilhard writes that we must devote our “individual strivings” toward the “spiritualization” of the “whole of matter, that which will make of it the Heavenly Jerusalem or the New Earth.” Is that a depiction of the world transformed at the Parousia, the Second Coming of Christ? Or what the Marxists and “parlour Bolshies” (George Orwell’s term) mean, when they speak of a perfected human community, when the state withers away and we all become selfless little comrades?
Teilhard instructs us, “We may imagine that the Creation was finished long ago. But that would be quite wrong. It continues still more magnificently, and in the highest zones of the world. . . . We serve to complete it, even by the humblest work of our hands….With each one of our works, we labor — atomically, but no less really — to build the Pleroma; that is to say, we bring to Christ a little fulfillment.”
One can interpret the above words as a vision of evolution proceeding under human direction, of a new world constructed by the application of human energy inspirited by Christ’s teachings, with humans made in the image and likeness of God seeking to teach all men in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, thereby becoming co-creators with God in the transformation of the cosmos.
Or we can see them as a call for a radically new understanding of what it means to be spiritual. In Teilhard’s view, is a doctor doing research to cure cancer, or a carpenter volunteering to build homes for the poor with Habitat for Humanity, involved in a higher form of prayer than those said on one’s knees at Mass to the Father in Heaven? And is this form of prayer a higher form that mankind should be coaxed into adopting as they rise above the vestiges of the biblical depiction of a three-storied universe that clutter their minds?
Teilhard instructs us that “by virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” He writes that it is our duty to recognize that the “Kingdom of God is within us. When Christ appears in the clouds, He will simply be manifesting a metamorphosis that has been slowly accomplished under His influence in the heart of the mass of Mankind.”
This last passage is the key: Is Teilhard engaging in code language meant to be read by his followers in one way, and suspicious Vatican authorities in another? Does he mean by Jesus “appearing in the clouds” at the Second Coming, the individual Jesus, the Lord of History, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity? Or is the “metamorphosis” of the human community, a community inspired by Christ’s message of love, the only “Christ” the world will ever see again?
Is Teilhard nudging us toward accepting that it is noble and liberating to accept that the image of a personal Christ coming again at the end of time is only a metaphor for the perfected human community? Is that the “evolutionary consciousness” he was calling for?
No doubt Pope Benedict and Pope Francis would say no. They would quote the passage where Teilhard wrote, “The world can no more have two summits than a circumference can have two centers. The star for which the world is waiting, without yet being able to give it a name, or rightly appreciate its true transcendence, or even recognize the most spiritual of its divine rays is, necessarily, Christ himself, in whom we hope. To desire the Parousia, all we have to do is to let the very heart of the earth, as we Christianize it, beat within us.”
We cannot pretend that there are not those who will see Teilhard’s message differently from Benedict and Francis, those who will use his words to champion one version or another of a New Age spiritualism — as well as a moral relativism that will take form once we have accepted Teilhard’s depiction of a world where “nothing is profane,” a world that will no longer need Catholicism or a teaching Catholic Church, as each individual labors on his or her own “to bring to Christ a little fulfillment.”
Pope Benedict’s Teilhard? I like it. The New Age Teilhard? Count me out.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

CACG: Faux Catholic Front Group Still An Outsider?

At Catholic World Report Anne Hendershott revisits the notorious democrat front group, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and gives us an idea of their set of 2016 tricks. Promising yet again to “move beyond partisan and ideological divisions,”…Continue Reading

The Catholic Weakness

A large proportion of traditional, Mass-going Catholics don’t believe basic Church doctrine. Why not? By Maggie Gallagher   Last week I wrote about one piece of data that jumped out from the Austin Institute’s fascinating new study, Relationships in America:…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke . . . “The Church depends on sound Catholic family life, and it depends on sound Catholic families.”

An Interview with Cardinal Burke  On Vatican II Q. Your Eminence, you grew up before the Second Vatican Council. How do you remember those times? A. I grew up in a very beautiful time in the Church, in which we…Continue Reading

Did Pope Francis really say all dogs go to heaven? UPDATED

That nice man, Pope Francis, says you get to see your pets again in Heaven. But Pope Benedict is a mean old Grinch who wants to remove the animals from your Nativity scene Christmas decorations. Oh, really? Please don’t believe…Continue Reading

Catholic Church in Australia links celibacy to child abuse

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney, and Nick Squires in Rome 8:04PM GMT 12 Dec 2014 Priests’ vows of celibacy may have led to paedophilia, the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said, in what is believed to be the first such…Continue Reading

Pope Calls For More ‘Integration’ Of Divorced Catholics, Gays

By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church must consider various ways to integrate the divorced and civilly remarried in the life of the church — not merely allowing them…Continue Reading

‘I’m not worried’ about resistance, Pope Francis says in new interview

Vatican City, Dec 7, 2014 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In an interview with the Argentine daily “La Nacion” published Sunday, Pope Francis spoke on a variety of topics, giving specific attention to the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia,…Continue Reading

Catholic Church Severs Ties with Agency over Gay Adoption Ruling

The Catholic Church in Northern Ireland is pulling the plug on a long-standing relationship with the Family Care Society, a Catholic adoption agency, after a judge ruled that all adoption services must be willing to place children with same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Reaction to Chicago archbishop’s remarks on pro-abort pols receiving Communion

n a radical departure from the position of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Blase Cupich – said to have been handpicked by Pope Francis for Chicago – has presented giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians as a positive move. Asked Sunday…Continue Reading

Pope Francis dodges reporter’s question on treatment of homosexuality in Synod’s controversial mid-term report

Since the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, reporters around the world have been wondering where Pope Francis stands on the controversial language about homosexuality in the mid-term Synod report.  The opportunity to ask the pope…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cupich Says Yes to Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians

In October of last year veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister wrote of the new path that many believed the Church was embarking upon. Magister observed: “In Italy, but not only there, it was the cardinal and Jesuit Carlo Maria Martini…Continue Reading

Francis calls for a change mentality in the Church, easier homilies and flexible times

Francis addresses participants of the International Pastoral Congress on the World’s Big Cities: “Go out and facilitate”, don’t be afraid of multicultural contexts or of proclaiming Jesus DOMENICO AGASSO JR ROME Francis was honest from the start: “I don’t want…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope: At Christmas Jesus Knocks At The Doors Of Your Heart

POPE701

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday invited the faithful to listen carefully when God knocks at their door. “Too often – he said – Jesus passes by in our lives, he sends an angel and we are so caught up in our thoughts and concerns we do not even notice”. Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for…Continue Reading

Pope Francis receives John XXIII Community

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received nearly 8 thousand members and associates of the Pope St. John XXIII Community on Saturday. Now recognized as an Association of Lay Faithful, the  Pope John XXIII Community was founded by Fr. Oreste Benzi of the clergy of the Diocese of Rimini in 1968, on the basis of his decade of experience with young people…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: The Church Is Not An Entrepreneur But A Mother

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis said on Friday that there is much sterility within the Church and the people of God, a sterility that comes from power and egoism.  The Church, he stressed, is a mother and not an entrepreneur. His remarks came during his homily at morning Mass celebrated at the Santa Marta residence. The Pope’s reflections on the themes…Continue Reading

General Audience: Jesus Chose To Come To The World As Part Of A family

POPE700

Vatican City, 17 December 2014 (VIS) – The family is the “great gift that the Lord has given to the world ever since the beginning, when he entrusted to Adam and Eve the mission of multiplying and filling the earth; the gift that Jesus confirmed and sealed in His Gospel”, said the Holy Father during this Wednesday’s general audience, in…Continue Reading

Anna’s Wish

By DEREK BECHER Anna lay still on her hospital bed, which was tilted slightly upward, while she slept. Her parents sat beside her, with their hands clenched together, sharing a prayer as they watched their only child laboring with each breath. She had only just turned nine, but the brave little girl had fought the…Continue Reading

Cardinal Piacenza To Confessors.. Remember The Priceless Ministry Of Confession At Christmas

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is a letter to confessors from Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, major penitentiary, released Gaudete Sunday, December 14. In the letter, the cardinal emphasized that “the time of Advent, and especially the days of the beautiful novena of Christmas, are characterized by a particularly attentive waiting, not only by men for God…but…Continue Reading

Archbishop Of Karachi . . . Says “The Taliban Will Stop At Nothing Now”

By JOHN PONTIFEX LONDON (ACN News) — Innocent people in Pakistan — young and old alike — are now at increased risk of terrorist attack, according to the leader of the country’s Catholics, who has called on the government to step up security in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre. Archbishop Joseph Coutts of…Continue Reading

Ten Complacent Maxims

By DONALD DeMARCO Mark Strand, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, passed away recently (November 29, 2014). He was a staunch atheist, declaring that he had never met God and had never been to Heaven. He said: “Although there are a lot of people claiming that God is telling them what to do,…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Abortifacient Brief: Depo-Provera”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 2 of The Facts of Life, “Abortifacients,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Depo-Provera is an injectable contraceptive drug that sometimes has an abortifacient effect. It also possesses…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity… Didn’t Jesus Have Brothers And Sisters?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 1 “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His Mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all His sisters with us?” (Matt. 13:54-57; also Mark 6:2-3). “And His Mother and…Continue Reading

The Canon Of Scripture

By DON FIER Part 2 We ended last week’s installment by showing that the apostles and early Christians accepted the 46-book Septuagint as the authentic Old Testament right from the Church’s beginning. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches, these 46 divinely inspired books constitute “an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture” (CCC, n. 121) and “bear witness to…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Questions And Answers About Christmas Q. Do we know the exact year in which Jesus was born? A. No, we do not. In the sixth century, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus drew up a calendar that fixed the birth of Christ in the Roman year 753, but scholars today agree that Dionysius miscalculated by a few years. So it is…Continue Reading

The Law Of The Lord

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Holy Family (YR B) Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 Col. 3:12-21 Luke 2: 22-40 Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. In a particular way this refers to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. However, it also refers to all families that are striving to live according to the ways of holiness and truth.…Continue Reading

Pope’s Message For World Day of Peace . . . “No Longer Slaves, But Brothers”

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is the text of Pope Francis’ message for the 48th World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on January 1, 2015. For a text with footnotes, go to www.zenit.org. + + + At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Urban V

By CAROLE BRESLIN The year 1309 marked the beginning of the Avignon papacy, under Pope Clement V, who was French. The Popes of Avignon built a papal palace, increasing it in size over the next 70 years. The first crack in the control of the papacy by the French began when Pope Urban V left Avignon to reside in Rome…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Sabbas

By CAROLE BRESLIN Silence. Quiet. The search for peace, serenity, and calm has led many in today’s world to take up Yoga, Eastern mysticism, or life in remote areas to escape the noise of our modern world. This is not a modern quest. The quest for quiet has been with man for millennia. Although St. Anthony the Great (died 356)…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading