Rorate Caeli

The "Spirit of the Council" nightmare that never ends:
Teilhard de Chardin is what passes for "New Evangelization" in top Roman university

(Please see additional note at the bottom of this article)

Certain events are by themselves highly symbolic... The "cosmic nightmare" of one of the most bizarre pseudo-theologians of the 20th century, and its most dated religious thinker, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, was celebrated with a major conference, on November 9-10, in the Society of Jesus's own Pontifical Gregorian University, dedicated to finding a role for him and his ideas in the "new evangelization".

Italian journalist and commentator Francesco Agnoli could not believe his eyes either, and so he wrote the following in opinion  daily Il Foglio on November 8.


On November 9-10, at the Pontifical Gregorian University, a large conference will be held, with the title “Today’s Anthropological Challenges – a reading of Teilhard de Chardin for a renewed evangelization, 50 years after the Second Vatican Council.” [Full program for the conference here.]

Almost by chance, I have had before me for some days now a number of texts by this Jesuit, who in certain milieux is presented as a man of great faith and, at the same time, an outstanding scientist. While others brand him as a very bad scientist, and an excellent heretic. Well, in order to try and understand something of this, I will start off by quoting a few of his reflections.

First, let us have a look at the scientist: “Under the weight of converging evidence collected by notably diverse men, I see the possibility of another hypothesis growing: that the Chinese are ‘held-back’ primitives, ‘infantile’ and their anthropological substance would be inferior to ours… Moreover, their mass emanates an insuperable power of leveling and ‘dissolution’. Among them, all that tends to elevation is brought down immediately to zero. Everything that lives for long amidst them is psychologically diminished and enfeebled[…] Neither the Christian approach of love for all men, nor the human hopes of an organized society, must make us forget that their ‘human level’, is not, perhaps, homogeneous? If such is the case, it would be necessary to find for the Chinese, as for negroes, a special function that is perhaps not (because of the biological impossibility) the same one as that for whites”.

Frankly, reading one who speaks about “anthropological substance” and similar nonsense, it is difficult not to agree, even a bit casually, with the very negative judgment on Teilhard’s scientific knowledge by his contemporary, the French biologist Jean Rostand.

Let us turn now to the priest and the theologian whom we should trust for “a renewed evangelization”. From the same work (Unpublished Letters, 1926 – 1952, Il Saggiatore), Teilhard claims to some friends that “our modern vision of God” is opposed to a “rather Fundamentalist encyclical” (he is referring to Humani generis of Pope Pius XII) as well as to the Dogma of the Assumption of Our Lady.

Here it is necessary to open a little window into the French priest’s theological concepts, as he does not hesitate to present himself as the man that Rome ought to listen to in order to truly understand and finally arrive at the “destination of Christianity”.

Two Catholic thinkers, E. Gilson and J. Maritain, without allowing themselves to be deceived by “the beautiful vocabulary”, the “Great Fairy Tale” , the “pathetic neologisms” and the fanciful visions of the Jesuit (“The Cosmic Christ”, “Omega point of becoming”, etc.) do not hesitate in defining Teilhard’s doctrines as “Teilhard’s gnosis” and “theology-fiction”. Maritain, in particular, reports a significant passage from one of his [Teilhard's] letters to Leontine Zanta: “You know already what is dominating my interests and my inner preoccupations and it is the effort to establish in myself, and to spread all around me, a new religion (call it even improved Christianity), in which the personal God ceases to be the great Neolithic master of the past to become the soul of the World that our religious and cultural era cries out for”.

New Religion”, “soul of the World”: how can this be linked to the doctrine of a transcendent Creator Who became Incarnate in order to save man from sin?
Again Teilhard writes in 1953: “That which makes Christianity alive is not the sense of Contingency of creation, but that of a mutual developing of the world and God”. In light of this and a thousand other declarations of an evidently pantheistic flavor, it is difficult not to agree with Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, according to whom the Jesuit identifies Jesus Christ with the cosmos, mixing pantheism and evolutionism in a metaphysical way as well as with Hegelian themes such as “without the world God is not God.”

Referring to the studies of Claude Tresmontant’s “Le Père Teilhard de Chardin et la Théologie”, to the discreet conversations with Gilson and some writings by Cardinal Journet, Maritain continues that, regarding other truths of the Faith, Teilhard “extrapolates a pseudo-theology and a pseudo-philosophy from scientific language;” he does not fully accept the concept of creation; evolution, a work of matter, originates the soul, and not the work of God; he defines the Incarnation erroneously as an “immersion in the multiple;” he unites the world and the Incarnation in an essential bond, denying the gratuitousness of Salvation; he sets aside the traditional idea of sin; he distorts the idea of the Redemption (to that of a Christ that allows Himself to be crucified in a world which itself is proceeding towards the Omega point); he call upon Christians to the worship progress, “of kneeling before the world” forgetting the existence of evil and the role of Satan in history.

Rome thought in the same way as Maritain and Teilhard was suspended from teaching in 1926. In 1927, the Holy See denied the imprimatur for his Milieu Divin and in 1939 branded as heterodox his L’Energie humaine. Four other measures against his doctrines followed between 1947 and 1955.

Teilhard for the New Evangelization? No, thank you – that is enough already...

[Francesco Agnoli, Il Foglio, November 8, 2012. Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]


From the program of the PUG's conference on Teilhard de Chardin, we read that it ended with a "Holy Mass with readings from the Mass on the World of Teilhard de Chardin" (S.Messa con letture dalla Messa sul Mondo di Teilhard de Chardin) in the University Chapel.