I completely don't understand - Jesuit Pierre Teilhard De Chardin and Pope Benedict

Ok, so i’ve researched this out the wazoo, backwards and forewards - mind you I haven’t actually read any of his books - but i am absolutely mind boggled in reading that Pope Benedict has in the past spoken glowingly about Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, both in his books and in his homilies.

For example:

…On Friday afternoon, 24 July, the Holy Father celebrated Vespers with the faithful of Aosta, Italy, in the city’s Cathedral. During his Homily, the Pope commented on a brief passage from the Letter to the Romans

We ourselves, with our whole being, must be adoration and sacrifice, and by transforming our world, give it back to God. The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host. And let us pray the Lord to help us become priests in this sense, to aid in the transformation of the world, in adoration of God, beginning with ourselves.

In any event, a causual perusal on the Internet show violent protest with regards to Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, and i’m talking stuff that I won’t charitably repeat.

The stuff I can post is things like Pierre Teilhard De Chardin saying:

“What increasingly dominates my interest is the effort to establish within myself, and to diffuse around me, a new religion (let’s call it an improved Christianity if you like) whose personal God is no longer the great neolithic landowner of times gone by, but the Soul of the world……” (Letter to Leontine Zanta, Jan 26 1936)

and things like:

“Sometimes I am a bit afraid, when I think of the transposition to which I must submit my mind concerning the common notions of creation, inspiration, miracle, original sin, resurrection, etc., in order to be able to accept them.” (Letter of Dec. 17, 1922 to a friend, remarking on how he must radically change his desired thinking to accept such core Doctrines as the Resurrection or Original Sin)

“Christ saves. But must we not hasten to add that Christ, too, is saved by evolution?” (Le Christique, 1955)

“I want to teach people how to see God everywhere, to see Him in all that is hidden, most solid, and most ultimate in the world. I am essentially Pantheist in my thinking and in my temperament.” (no source)

NOTE: I’ve done a search on this site and read on the entries on Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, and I am no closer to answer.

[size=]My Question: [/size]Why does Pope Benedict site his work and seems to praise him, even though he (Pierre Teilhard De Chardin) was silenced by the Church itself, which has to date not lifted the ban?

Is it because Pope Benedict finds some redeeming qualities in his “Cosmic Liturgy”?

This has totally and utterly baffled me!



On June 30, 1962, the Holy Office issued a monitum (warning) regarding the writings of Father Teilhard de Chardin. In 1981 the Holy See reiterated this warning against rumors that it no longer applied. Following is the text of both the monitum and the 1981 statement:


"Several works of Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, some of which were posthumously published, are being edited and are gaining a good deal of success.

"Prescinding from a judgement about those points that concern the positive sciences, it is sufficiently clear that the above-mentioned works abound in such ambiguities and indeed even serious errors, as to offend Catholic doctrine.

"For this reason, the most eminent and most revered Fathers of the Holy Office exhort all Ordinaries as well as the superiors of Religious institutes, rectors of seminaries and presidents of universities, effectively to protect the minds, particularly of the youth, against the dangers presented by the works of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and of his followers.

"Given at Rome, from the palace of the Holy Office, on the thirtieth day of June, 1962.

Sebastianus Masala, Notarius"

See what I mean, I don’t get it!!

There are many who have taught brilliantly at times but have lapsed into error occasionally, or even quite often.

*]Origen - the pre-existence of the soul and the subject of many anathemas.
*]Evagrios the Solitary and some of the Early Desert Fathers
*]Symeon the New Theologian - Excommunicated and exiled but later returned to communion with the Church and the subject of one of Pope Benedict XVI’s Wednesday audiences.
*]Peter Abelard - his teaching on the Trinity was a scandal but he is in many ways the progenitor of scholastic theology and predecessor of St. Thomas Aquinas. His works were widely studied by all entering the priesthood prior to the publication of the Summa and St. Thomas wrote a commentary on his seminal work, “The Sentences.”

The list goes on. Modern, western man wants everything quantified, classified and put into bullet points. Mysticism on the other hand, is not an exact science.


Indeed, understood and I totally agree with you.

But still, with such dramatic reaction to Jesuit Pierre Teilhard De Chardin all over the internet, it leaves me scratching my head… so Pope Benedict simply picked out ideas he had that were good then?

Along a similar vein, did you ever wish that the Pope took an hour or two, and took to the airwaves and said: “look people, this is exactly what you need to believe and follow, in point form, a-z. And this is what you need to avoid, in point form A-Z” - Something like that would help simpletons like me like you wouldn’t believe. The world is a confusing place, know what I mean?

The Jesuit in question certainly had some things that were problematic in various ways -and at often depending on how one took them (often meant more poetically) and others have taken his writings I hear off the ledge. But that does not mean that good and beautiful things that he said are not still good and beautiful.

Pope Benedict XVI cited many sources - either the good or best parts of them or that which was pertinent to the discussion. Such was not necessarily an endorsement of all the writings or the thought of the person or source cited. His citations embraced many different writers.

Indeed, and I agree with what you are saying, it’s just that i’ve read such nasty nasty things about the Jesuit in question and Pope Benedict’s praise of him. :frowning:

Further, for again a simpleton like me, how do I understand this?

In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict:

“The Roman creed (and with it the Western creed in general) is more concerned with the history of salvation and with Christology. **It lingers, so to speak, on the positivistic side of the Christian story; it simply accepts the fact that to save us God became man; it does not seek to penetrate beyond this story to its causes and to its connection with the totality of being. **The East (Orthodox Christians), on the other hand, has always sought to see the Christian faith in a cosmic and metaphysical perspective, which is mirrored in professions of faith above all by the fact that Christology and belief in creation are related to each other, and thus the uniqueness of the Christian story and the everlasting, all-embracing nature of the creation come into close association. **We shall return later to discuss how today this enlarged perspective is at last beginning to gain currency in the Western consciousness as well, especially as a result of stimuli from the work of Teilhard de Chardin.**” (emphasis added).

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal; Pope Benedict XVI; Benedict; J. R. Foster; Michael J. Miller (2010-06-04). Introduction To Christianity, 2nd Edition (Kindle Locations 953-959). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

I don’t get what the Pope is saying here, where again he brings up Teilhard de Chardin? Does he mean we focus too much on the fact that Jesus saved us, and not on why God chose to become man? I don’t know…

Well “nasty nasty things” ought to be set aside. As I recall he was personally a “devout Priest” (not that I was alive then…)

Remember too that He was quite a present figure during the time of the days when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a professor (he too critiqued things he said…).

Are you saying Pope Benedict critiqued the things he (Chardin) said? I remember seeing one quote where Pope Benedict said Teilhard De Chardin focused too much on the bilogical…

He first of all was not Pope then. But a young very brilliant theologian.

Such was an early work (1960’s) when Teilhard de Chardin was quite popular in discussion.

Pope Benedict XVI (and as Ratzinger) is quite clear that Jesus saved us! And that such is one of the very central aspects of our Faith.

As least as Ratzinger.

At a certain point you are going to have to read the man’s works in order to understand his works.

The same thing happens with Thomas Merton. Many people have not read his work but hear that he embraced Buddhist spirituality and so they ignore him, or repeat what they have heard, that he is a heretic, etc.

Brother JR reminded us many times to read a good biography of a person before we dive into their spiritual works. This way we have the context.


It wouldn’t help you. It would defeat the whole point of being alive.


I wish I had the time or the intellect. so, yup I hear what your saying “stop asking about it and read if you want the answers” :slight_smile: :wink:

Trust me on this, a guy like me, LOVES clear and repetitive instruction. trust me. :slight_smile:

Good luck. Some are quite difficult to understand. If ever.

Very intelligent man. But yes there are difficulties in his writings and I do not recommend delving into them - especially to the normal reader.

There is a reason why the monitum was issued by the Church.

He means (and again, this wasn’t Pope Benedict but Joseph Ratzinger, long before becoming Pope:p) that the Western Church has tended to focus on individual salvation and the forgiveness of sin, while the Eastern Church has seen the Incarnation as bringing about the redemption of all creation. De Chardin helped introduce that way of thinking to Western thought, so Ratzinger/Benedict finds much useful in him, which doesn’t deny that he taught errors as well.


One major theme of Teilhard de Chardin is to emphasize the entirety of the creation and universe. When he adventured in the wild, he said his Mass by using the earth as his altar.
I think that is where Pope Benedict comes from. He too, believes the entire creation and universe are one in God. That does not mean the Pope approves all Teilhard de Chardin’s work.

What does the redemption of all creation mean? Animals and plants and buildings can’t sin?

See but this is exactly what I don’t understand. Of course God created the universe, but people and the salvation of people is the whole point no?

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