What’s the bottom line? With the exception of his “Patient Trust” prayer, our recommendation is to stay away from Teilhard de Chardin’s writings. As we often encourage, it is an easier and surer path to study and follow the writings of the Doctors, and Fathers, of the Church, and the lives of the Saints, who have stood the test of time and have both the approval and recommendation of the Church.”
I too sometimes heard this famous Jesuit quoted during the post Vatican II period of the seventies and eighties, presumably as an example that fully embodied that (erroneous) “spirit” of the Council! But I was fortunate in having devout and traditional Catholic parents, plus some much older and wiser Catholic friends, who pointed me towards the right sort of reading material that were faithful to the Magisterium. I later came to understand and realise that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, so acclaimed in some circles, was not a reliable source of Catholic doctrine, teaching, or thought.
A complete refutation of Teilhard de Chardin’s thought can be found in the appendix of “Trojan Horse in the City of God” by Dietrich von Hildebrand, (an outstanding philosopher, theologian and author, who I have often mentioned in the past on CP&S).
J. Maritain also reports a significant passage from one of Teilhard’s letters: “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”.
Enough to ring a whole lot of alarm bells, one would think! And yet Teilhard’s flowery language and revolutionary views on evolution earned him a reputation as a man of great faith and, at the same time, that of an outstanding scientist. In reality he was not only a bad scientist but he was also an excellent heretic, who fully embraced all the wildest pantheist views of the New Age Movement. The problem with trying to discern these things is that they start out with something that looks good or attractive, seems innocent enough, and, before people are even aware of it, they have taken their minds and souls down the path of error. That’s why holy, Mother Church issued and reiterated their warning, on him…and why it is still in effect.
“Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis (1950) completely rejected the Teilhardian position on evolution. Teilhard was furious and he accused the encyclical of exhibiting a ‘masochism and sadism of orthodoxy’.”—Between Science & Religion by Phillip Thompson
“You can’t get any benefit or enlightenment from thinking about Teilhard. The ravages that he has wrought that I have witnessed are horrifying. I do everything I can to avoid having to talk about him. People are not content with just teaching him, they preach him. They use him like a siege engine to undermine the Church from within (I am not kidding) and I, for one, want no part of this destructive scheme.” Étienne Gilson (13 June 1884 – 19 September 1978) French philosopher and historian of philosophy.
Malachi Martin devoted a whole chapter in “Hostage to the Devil” to a priest whose possession was precipitated by absorbing the books of Teilhard de Chardin. One cannot help wondering how many other priests might have been influenced by Teilhard de Chardin’s unorthodox writings! In M. Martin’s excellent book, “The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church”, he alleges that T de Chardin, so immersed in this supposed ‘betrayal’ and New Age thinking, gradually lost his faith in later years. Denying one by one many of the fundamental Catholic truths (Original Sin, the dogma of the Assumption, etc.), even that of Eternal Life, and without even being fully aware of the dangerous ground he (TdC) was treading, Martin implies that the embracing of heretical ideas inexorably leads one away from God and His Holy Church.
The one over-riding fact we should all bear in mind though, is that this ‘untold damage’ Teilhard de Chardin’s New Age philosophy has undoubtedly wrought on the minds and heart of many unsuspecting Catholics (and still continues to do so), is that we cannot judge ourselves how much personal responsibility he holds for this, or how much was due to a manipulation of his own mind by the whirlwind of dissent and error he lived through and unwittingly absorbed. We must leave it up to God to judge his conscience.