Sunday 5th July 2015

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:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Listen to the Pope, Iowa Catholic Leaders Tell GOP

Catholic leaders call on GOP hopefuls to heed pope’s teachings on climate, economics By THOMAS BEAUMONT and RACHEL ZOLL, Associated Press ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — Roman Catholic leaders in the early voting state of Iowa implored candidates for president Thursday…Continue Reading

Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare subsidies

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld ObamaCare subsidies nationwide, in the second major court victory for President Obama on his signature health care law. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that subsidies are valid even in states that did…Continue Reading

Synod on the Family’s working document sets the stage for spirited discussion

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2015 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- That the discussion at October’s Synod on the Family is going to be a lively one is indicated by the fact that the most controversial paragraphs of the final report…Continue Reading

Abortion Drone Will Fly Dangerous Abortion Pills to Poland to Violate Its Pro-Life Laws

drone

The pro-abortion organization that formerly ran the abortion boat that distributed the dangerous abortion pill in international waters outside pro-life nations that protect unborn children has come up with a new marketing scheme to push abortion in pro-life nations: drones.…Continue Reading

St. Louis’ Catholic Archbishop Carlson discusses same-sex marriage, clergy sex abuse, racism, more

At their annual spring meeting held in St. Louis last week, U.S Catholic bishops discussed several issues currently facing the Catholic Church, including: the clergy sex abuse scandal, what the Church sees as challenges to marriage, and the pope’s upcoming…Continue Reading

Nienstedt resigns; New Jersey bishop named interim head of Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Archbishop John Nienstedt has resigned in the wake of criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for its “role in failing to protect children and contribution to the unspeakable harm” experienced by victims in priest sex-abuse cases. Nienstedt says…Continue Reading

Priests needed: As Church growth explodes worldwide, parishes can’t keep up

Washington D.C., Jun 12, 2015 / 05:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The global Catholic population is growing – so quickly, in fact, that priest and parish numbers cannot keep up, says a new study on trends in the worldwide Church. And…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper hints at new ‘Vatican II’ strategy to gain approval of Communion proposal

June 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In the face of increasing opposition to his plan to approve giving Holy Communion to people who are in adulterous remarriages, Cardinal Walter Kasper is hinting at a new “Vatican II” strategy for accomplishing his…Continue Reading

No Law Can Be Based on Injustice

In 2010, the United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was designed by President Obama and Congressional leaders to expand access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage in the United States. After the law…Continue Reading

Cardinal: Divorced and remarried Catholics need support for conversion, not changes on communion

Catholics who have divorced and remarried need help for the “difficult climb” of conversion and spiritual growth, not a change in Church practice on the reception of Holy Communion, a prominent cardinal said. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli summarized the advice of…Continue Reading

Obama: Without Catholic Nun We Would Not Have Gotten Obamacare Done

(CNSNews.com) – While addressing the Catholic Health Association Conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, President Barack Obama said that the Affordable Care Act—AKA Obamacare—would not have been enacted had it not been for Sister Carol Keehan, the president of the Catholic…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper Backpedals on Papal Endorsement of Controversial Proposal

Almost single-handedly one cleric has turned the Church’s teaching on Communion, marriage and divorce into an international debate. For decades, German Cardinal Walter Kasper has promoted a proposal to allow divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics to receive holy Communion after a period of…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 su
bscribe 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

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

Today . . .

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI receives honorary doctorates

(Vatican Radio) Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI received Doctorates honoris causa on Saturday from the Pontifical John Paul II University of Krakow and the Krakow Academy of Music. The motivation for the honors issued by the University’s Academic Senate specifies five contributions Pope Benedict has made to knowledge and culture: his great respect for the musical tradition of the Church and remarkable sensitivity to the music of faith; the life-long and constant demonstration of a special concern for…Continue Reading

Univ. of San Francisco Celebrates SCOTUS Marriage Ruling, Despite Catholic Mission

usan

July 2, 2015, at 11:22 AM  |  By Justin Petrisek  | While the U.S. bishops responded to last week’s marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court by upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church, one Jesuit university chose to publicly celebrate the decision in direct conflict with its Catholic identity and mission. Over the weekend, the University of San Francisco (USF), a Jesuit Catholic university, used its Twitter and Facebook accounts to celebrate the San Francisco…Continue Reading

‘No Global’ author at Vatican event on climate and poverty reduction

(Vatican Radio) A Catholic climate scientist and a secular Jewish feminist formed an “unlikely alliance” in the Vatican press office on Wednesday to present a two day conference entitled ‘People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course’. The conference, which will take place at the Pontifical Augustinianum University in Rome, includes some 200 political, religious and civil society leaders from all continents who’ll be discussing Pope Francis’ new encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ in light of…Continue Reading

Cardinal Turkson on Laudato si’ and children

pope798

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on Tuesday addressed UNICEF House at the United Nations in New York. He spoke about the new Encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato si’, and how it relates to children.   The full text of Cardinal Turkson’s remarks are blow   Remarks on Laudato si’ to Child-Focused Agencies UNICEF House, 30 June 2015 Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, President, Pontifical Council for…Continue Reading

So Now Is It “Hate Speech” To Deplore The Obergefell Decision?

By PHIL LAWLER (Editor’s Note: LifeSiteNews reprinted this article from CatholicCulture.org with permission. All rights reserved.) + + + The ink was barely dry on last week’s Supreme Court ruling when Fr. James Martin, SJ, began scolding Catholics who were, from his decorous perspective, too strident in denouncing the decision. “No issue brings out so…Continue Reading

The Popes, Marian Devotion, And The New Evangelization

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 3 This is the third article in a series which looks at Marian devotion, and the New Evangelization, in the light of the teaching of recent Popes. It is noteworthy, that even before St. John Paul II became Pope in 1978, he had adopted the Latin phrase “Totus Tuus” as…Continue Reading

Although Their Adversaries Seem Strong . . . Law-School Interns Are Reminded That Even Old USSR Collapsed

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — Almost ready to start applying their new knowledge to battle moral challenges around the globe, law-school students at a dinner here were reminded that the Soviet Union once was regarded as an invincible adversary, but it finally collapsed in relatively short order. The Christian law students from 11 countries, interns…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The ‘Gay’ Case Against Abortion”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For electronic copies of previous articles on homosexual “marriage,” the special rights agenda, and the role of homosexuality in the Church crisis, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “Feminists and political liberals have argued…Continue Reading

Protecting Hatred Preserves Freedom

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The tragedy of a mass murder in Charleston, S.C., obviously motivated by racial hatred, has raised anew the issue of the lawfulness of the state expressing an opinion by flying a Confederate flag at the statehouse, and the constitutionality of the use of the First Amendment to protect hate speech and…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

An Apologetics Course… Why Be A Christian? Why Not Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 9 There are many religions in the world today, all claiming to be true. Many were founded by individuals who claimed to be “prophets” of God — or of the gods, depending. In this context, why be a Christian at all? Why not be a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu, an animist,…Continue Reading

The Four Marks Of The Church — Holiness

By DON FIER Part 2 The second of four distinguishing marks or properties of the one true Church, as we saw last week, is that she is “unfailingly holy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 823). Despite being composed of sinners, “the Church is holy because she was founded by Jesus Christ, who is all-holy, and because she teaches, according…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

  Editor’s Note: D.M. has e-mailed to us the following thoughtful comments: “In a recent reply regarding the bishops and our borders, you noted that our immigration system is ‘badly broken.’ To me that was a bit like hearing the proverbial fingernails on a blackboard. It seems to me that those who seek to dominate all of us use the refrain,…Continue Reading

Chosen By God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Amos 7:12-15 Eph. 1:3-14 Mark 6:7-13 In the first reading, Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (the place of the original Temple of the Lord), chastises the Prophet Amos for preaching against the goings on in the House of God. The priest tells the prophet to go and make…Continue Reading

National Mass Recalls Anniversary of St. Columbanus… “Why Are You So Frightened, You Men Of Little Faith?”

ARMAGH, Northern Ireland (ZENIT) — A national Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the 14th centenary of St. Columbanus was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh on Sunday, June 21. Opening remarks were given by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, and the homily was given by Fr. Neil Collins. Following are the texts of both, provided by ZENIT News Agency.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 2 With the outbreak of civil war in Spain and the attack on the Catholic Church, many priests and religious were martyred. The existing government changed the constitution to legalize persecution of the Church by closing Catholic schools, ceasing reparation payments, and suppressing religious discussion. Among other things, this helped lead to the secularization of society…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 God, in His loving Providence and perfect timing, gives the Church holy men and women to guide the Mystical Body of Christ. During the chaos of the Protestant revolt, he provided St. Ignatius and St. Teresa of Avila. At the beginning of the 20th century, as the lay faithful were being called to participate in…Continue Reading