Pope praises Teilhard de Chardin

Here it is on the Vatican website:


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.


OK, I’m too lazy to look up Teilhard de Chardin and I don’t ready anything in the snippet that sounds crazy, so please enlighten us on the :eek:

I’m not too sure if this is what OP had in mind, but it appears that some of his works have been officially condemned by the Church. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin)

Condemned or are readers of his works cautioned when reading them? I understand he was a proponent of ‘Process Theology’ but I wasn’t aware that it was condemned by the Church? :shrug:

I hate to admit this, but my knowledge on this begins and ends with the wiki site. :blush:


I think for the Church to condemn him outright they would have to also condemn St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Maximus the Confessor, both of whom directly inspired the late Chardin’s theories. :shrug:

Father de Chardin’s writings have never been condemned. What was said by Pope John Paul II was that they did not represent official Catholic dogma. Father de Chardin never wrote them to represent authoritative theology. Fr. de Chardin was a cosmologist. This places him in the field of metaphysics more than in theology. He used theology to shed light on contemporary cosmology. The authors of the Wikipedia article show a lack of understanding of Father de Chardin’s writings.

Thus, he wrote that the world would be transformed into one cosmological body of Christ. He uses the word host in a different context than that which it is used in Eucharistic theology. He borrowed many words from theology to explain cosmology. The Holy Father is right in his use of Fr. de Chardin’s writings. He is not using it in a sacramental sense, but in speaking of an eschatalogical reality where the world will become the body of Christ. The Holy Father is stating that one of the missions of a priest is to make this happen through his ministry to help people in their on-going conversion.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

I’m afraid I tune that sort of thing out. I’m more concerned with the practicalities of getting into Heaven.

I think traditionalist Catholics loathe Fr. de Chardin’s works, but I can’t recall why.

This may give a flavour of the objection. Found this via Google:

I think this is the relevant bit from the Wikipedia article (my emphasis):

*"In 1925, Teilhard was ordered by the Jesuit Superior General Vladimir Ledochowski to leave his teaching position in France and to sign a statement withdrawing his controversial statements regarding the doctrine of original sin. Rather than leave the Jesuit order, Teilhard signed the statement and left for China.

This was the first of a series of condemnations by certain church officials that would continue until long after Teilhard’s death. The climax of these condemnations was a 1962 monitum (reprimand) of the Holy Office denouncing his works. From the monitum:

"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.".[2]

Teilhard’s writings, though, continued to circulate — not publicly, as he and the Jesuits observed their commitments to obedience, but in mimeographs that were circulated only privately, within the Jesuits, among theologians and scholars for discussion, debate and criticism[citation needed].

As time passed, it seemed that the works of Teilhard were gradually returning to favor in the church. For example, on June 10, 1981, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli wrote on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano:

"What our contemporaries will undoubtedly remember, beyond the difficulties of conception and deficiencies of expression in this audacious attempt to reach a synthesis, is the testimomy of the coherent life of a man possessed by Christ in the depths of his soul. He was concerned with honoring both faith and reason, and anticipated the response to John Paul II's appeal: 'Be not afraid, open, open wide to Christ the doors of the immense domains of culture, civilization, and progress.[3]

However, shortly thereafter the Holy See clarified that recent statements by members of the church, in particular those made on the hundredth anniversary of Teilhard’s birth, were not to be interpreted as a revision of previous stands taken by the church officials.[4] Thus the 1962 statement remains official church policy to this day.

Although some Catholic intellectuals defended Teilhard and his doctrine (including Henri de Lubac)[5], others condemned his teaching as a perversion of the Christian faith. These include Jacques Maritain, Étienne Gilson and Dietrich von Hildebrand.[6]"*

It’s because traditionalist Catholics seem to hate evolutionary theory. I don’t know why. They also don’t like to accept that Pius XII said it is compatible with Christianity.

It’s the only thing about traditional Catholicism that I don’t agree with. Of course, this is just a generalization.

I don’t think that orthodox theologians use Fr. de Chardin’s writings as theological doctrinal statements. But they are frequently referred to for their metaphysical and scientific methodology which is often very useful when using reason to explain faith and faith to enlighten reason. The Holy Father, as a scholar himself and an admirer of Fr. de Chardin’s methodology for doing philosophy would apply the same methodology to doing theology, especially when we’re dealing with a pope who is not too fond of Aquinas methodology. Though he subscribes to Thomistic theology. There is a difference between methodology and the content of theology. One cannot deny the excellence in Fr. de Chardin’s methodology, especially for one such as Pope Benedict XVI who is much more of a Franciscan and Augustinian, than a Thomist. His theology overflows with Bonaventure and Augustine.

While Aquinas was a great admirer of both Augustine and Bonaventure, he also disgreed with them on the starting point of theological hermaneutics. Aquinas subscribed to the notion that faith begins with consent of the will. Whereas Augustine and Bonaventure believed that faith began with an experience of the soul that the will could not deny. Hence, Pope Benedict’s conviction that faith enlightens reason, instead of Aquinas’ method where reason explains faith.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

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Even Aquinas implied evolutionary theory, though he did not use such words, because they did not exist in his time. Every pope since Pius XII has agreed that evolutionary theory and faith need not be in conflict as long as the hand of God in the mystery of creation is not denied and the centrality of man is recognized by the theory. We must also remember that there are many theories of evolution. Some are in conflict with faith and others are not. Just recently the Vatican hosted a congress on evolution and they excluded creationists and intelligent design people, because they do not recognize either group as being scholarly enough for Catholicism.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

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If you don’t find Teilhard de Charin helpful, don’t read him.

And with all respect to beloved John Paul the Great, not everything a pope says is an infalliblie statement.

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I have a difficult time understanding how Teilhard was not a heretic. The quote from the Pope is fairly innocuous, I think, and not much of a big deal, though. Leo XIII called Origen the greatest of the Eastern Fathers at one point. It didn’t mean that he bought into some of his wackier ideas.

Anybody that wants to know more about the sicker aspects of Teilhardism should consider reading Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Trojan Horse in the City of God (which has an entire appendix devoted to Teilhardism) or Wolfgang Smith’s Teilhardism and the New Religion, which completely dismantles de Chardin’s science and theology.

Anyone who reads Teilhard’s own works, especially his later ones like The Heart of Matter, can see pretty clearly that he was messed up. His earlier stuff (The Divine Milieu, eg) isn’t so bad, which is why Teilhard apologists like de Lubac tended to focus on it exclusively.

One other thing about reading Teilhard. He has a really nasty habit of making words up. Beware.

But the fact remains that some theological scholars like some of his work and Benedict XVI is one of them. Benedict XVI also has great admiration and respect for Father Kung. He made him the official leader of the philosophical ecumenical movement in his country about five weeks after he was elected pope.

Pope Benedict is a scholar and he does not see things the way we do. He picks and chooses from different scholars what he see as good and uses it. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s part of what we have to accept when we have a pope who is a scholar and who wants to teach theology and philosophy to the Catholic world. Unlike his predecessor who was a pastor and wanted to focus on outreach. They are different styles and different interests. It is common knowledge that Pope Benedict works short days on Church affairs and spend long hours on speculative theology and other forms of academic research, when he’s not praying or attending to diplomats and ecumenical affairs. He leaves the day to day affairs of the Church to the different Congregations and departments within the curia and to the local conferences of bishops. He has said that he strongly believes in subsidiarity. In other words, fix the problems at the lower levels and let me do academic theology and global issues that affect the Church.

That kind of personality is also good for the Church. That’s my opinion. Maybe I’m biased, becasue I too like research.



So, is he, or is he not, a heretic?

For me, Fr. de Chardin’s name has come up too many times in too many places as one whose work has been implicated in diverting people away from orthodoxy.

In fact, I think the Church should have a body of men, perhaps bishops or cardinals, who investigate heresy within the church and take speedy action about it. Good men, staunch men, men who will not flinch to pursue those who would divert the Faithful from their journey towards Heaven.

Men like these.

Tehard’s writing were condemned he was also a liar and fraud. He was instrumentally involved in the 2 biggest hoaxes of the missing link: “piltdown Man” and “Peking Man” both were frauds.

His works were constantly condemned. condemnations was a 1962 monitum (reprimand) of the Holy Office denouncing his works. From the monitum:

"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.".

I like some of Soren Kierkegaard’s work too. I think Nietzsche makes some great points. They are still heretics. The problem with Teilhardism is that it’s dressed up in fancy sounding language and allegedly Catholic. It isn’t.

A good exercise might be to do a search of the Catholic Answers web site for “teilhard” and see what pops up.

By the way, could you provide a link for the bit about making Kung “official leader of the philosophical ecumenical movement in his country.” I knew they met, but I wasn’t aware of any official capacities granted to him. As far I as know, his teaching faculties are still suspended.

You wont get a straight answer from him he is a typical Franciscan following feelings more than facts

We cannot condemn Fr. de Chardin as a heretic. We do not have the authority to do so. The Church has never condemned him as a heretic. Several of his writings were condemned by the Sacred Congregation of the Faith, but not the man. He died in good standing with the Church. The fact that our Holy Father quotes him shows that he is not a heretic. Benedict XVI is too intelligent to quote a heretic in a positive light. We have to use common sense here.

As to Fr. Kung, I had the article, but I have deleted it. It’s from the early days of Pope Benedict’s pontificate. You may find something is you good a string: Pope Benedict and Hans Kung. It is important to understand that Fr. Kung’s license to teach theology was taken away. He was not suspended. He had been working on ecumenical issues in philosophy. When he met with the Holy Father, the Holy Father told him to take over that project and encouraged him to continue its work.

There was a reson given by the Vatican for this move. Fr. Kung was Joseph Ratzinger’s superior when Ratzinger was professor of theology at the university. It was Fr. Kung who was intrumental in getting Ratzinger invited to Vatican II. Ratzinger was a brilliant theologian, but not well known outside of the university. Kung was well known and had been invited to the Council. He submitted Ratzinger’s name. From there Ratzinger’s fame among the bishops and cardinals took off along with Rahner, whom Ratzinger admires and quotes in his work, Jesus of Nazareth. Ratzinger uses Fr. de Chardin’s methodology, Fr. Rahner’s and Fr. Kung’s for doing his own theology.

It is important to read the works of these men side by side. When you do, you see the method runs across them; however, the conclusions are not the same. This is the difference between them. Ratzinger’s conclusions are more orthodox, though he is much more Franciscan and Augustinian than the others. While he uses the methodology that was created by de Chardin, developed by Rahner, and perfected by Ratzinger, Ratzinger uses the theology of Bonaventure and Augustine.

I believe this thread is rattling some people precisely because Pope Benedict is using the methods of de Chardin and lifting the truths that he finds in de Chardin. We tend to want to throw out everything when we find fault with a part of it. Pope Benedict, being well traind in Bonaventure, does not do this. This is contrary to the Franciscan school of theology, which believes that there is good and truth everywhere often hidden under rubble. For someone like Pope Benedict, who enjoys an academic challenge, probably more than he enjoys being pope, this is exactly how he wants to do Catholic theology.

Again, I am no sure why we are questioning this issue. It’s over and done with. The Holy Father has made his statement and there is no error in what he said. If he had made the statement and never mentioned its source, de Chardin, no one would have noticed. I encourage all to relax on this issue. The statement has theological validity and is consistent with Church doctrine.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

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