Can I Trust Pierre Teilhard de Chardin?

Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin_01-e1372644438817-212x300The short answer is a resounding “No”, but first I think this article by Liz Estler (one of the editors on the “Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction” website) gives us an interesting opening to the above question.
“Recently, someone referred me to a prayer that Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. wrote called “Patient Trust”.  Researching it on the web, I found that it accurately describes the frustration many face while discerning what the Lord is calling them to…and the patience required to remain stouthearted and wait on the Lord with courage (cf Psalm 27:14).  “That looks good,” I thought, “Let me take a closer look at this guy.  I wonder what else he has written.”What I found dismayed me.  Teilhard de Chardin had a long history of writing and speaking about what we now call “New Age” ideas.  In 1962, the Vatican issued a monitum, or warning, on his writings.  They reiterated it in 1981 because some folks thought it was no longer in effect.  Rome banned publication of most of his books and said they could not be retained in libraries (including those of religious institutes) or sold by Catholic bookstores, etc.  And, he was kept from writing or teaching on philosophical studies.At present, many New Age writers and sites quote him.  That alone gives me pause for concern.  Along these lines, the Vatican document “Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life – A Christian reflection on the New Age”  has an interesting citation. Footnote number 15 indicates that, in a 1977 questionnaire, de Chardin was listed as the number one individual whose ideas had most influenced the so-called “Aquarian Conspirators.”…..  

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.

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50 Responses to Can I Trust Pierre Teilhard de Chardin?

  1. Brother Burrito says:

    I believe there is good in everything, even Satan or sin, or else God would not tolerate its existence.

    The goodness of heretics is that they provide a good example of bad example. They make great teaching material.

    The poor and the heretic, we will have them with us always.

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    I agree with the analysis of Teilhard de Chardin but I wonder if he is worth the effort of condemnation, quite frankly. His dense books are largely unread today, although they can be found (contrary to the instruction of Church authorities) gathering dust on the bookshelves of Catholic seminaries. Along with the Jesuit inspired liberation theology workshops that infected the ecumaniacs in the 1980s, Teilhard was standard reading. I never met anyone who had a clue what he was talking about. I challenge you to ask any new age hippie whether they have ever heard of him. “Teilhard de what, mate?”

  3. I still see occasional attempts at parishes or retreats to rehabilitate Teilhard, so I think pieces like this are useful. If memory serves, Teilhard described his own teaching as “essentially pantheist.” He also denied the distinction between spirit and matter, asserting that everything is of one kind of stuff: spirit-matter. Thanks for the post.

  4. Frere Rabit says:

    “I still see occasional attempts at parishes or retreats to rehabilitate Teilhard”
    Interesting. Just for the record I have done a quick search of the websites of the “usual suspects” and references to Teilhard are all over the ACTA postings! That is unsurprising, as they latch onto every heresy available in the theological bargain basement.

    But another thought occurs to me, and that is we should treat Teilhard with respect and with charity. His philosophical mind was undoubtedly up there in the genius category. But our understanding of this complex priest should never overlook the fact that he was formed during the bloody mess of the First World War, in which he served with distinction. Many went mad in that horror. He simply went off on a theological tangent.

  5. In the spirit of Pope Benedict XVI, whose picture is on your “About Us” page, I feel compelled to respond to a number of blatant inaccuracies contained in the article. The article quotes a number of marginal theologians (e.g. Malachi Martin who according to Wikipedia left his priestly vocation in 1964 and who wrote 17 novels and non-fiction books that “were frequently critical of the Catholic Church”) while ignoring the comments of leading orthodox theologians such as Pope Benedict XVI, Blessed John Paul II and Cardinal Henri de Lubac.

    Teilhard de Chardin is a respected mystic and theologian within the Church. In July 2009, the Vatican spokesman said “By now, no one would dream of saying that [Teilhard] is a heterodox author who should not be studied. Cardinal Henri de Lubac was not as charitable as the Vatican stating several decades earlier “We need not concern ourselves with a number of detractors of Teilhard in whom emotion has blunted intelligence.”

    Examples of Pope Benedict XVI praising Teilhard de Chardin include the following endorsement of Teilhard de Chardin’s Christian worship of the liturgy and the Eucharist from Chapter 2 of his wonderful book “Spirit of the Liturgy”:

    “And so we can now say that the goal of worship and the goal of creation as a whole are one and the same—divinization, a world of freedom and love. But this means that the historical makes its appearance in the cosmic. The cosmos is not a kind of closed building, a stationary container in which history may by chance take place. It is itself movement, from its one beginning to its one end. In a sense, creation is history. Against the background of the modern evolutionary world view, Teilhard de Chardin depicted the cosmos as a process of ascent, a series of unions. From very simple beginnings the path leads to ever greater and more complex unities, in which multiplicity is not abolished but merged into a growing synthesis, leading to the “Noosphere”, in which spirit and its understanding embrace the whole and are blended into a kind of living organism. Invoking the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, Teilhard looks on Christ as the energy that strives toward the Noosphere and finally incorporates everything in its “fullness’. From here Teilhard went on to give a new meaning to Christian worship: the transubstantiated Host is the anticipation of the transformation and divinization of matter in the christological “fullness”. In his view, the Eucharist provides the movement of the cosmos with its direction; it anticipates its goal and at the same time urges it on.”

    As another example, Pope Benedict XVI cites Teilhard de Chardin as an example of someone who draws upon the great theologians of the early Church through the Middle Ages to bring dimensions of Christianity that have been watered down by modernity:

    “[Mystical theologians have] 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).”

    To read how leading clerical theologians treat Teilhard de Chardin, I encourage you to read the following:

    Pope Benedict XVI “Spirit of the Liturgy”

    Pope Benedict XVI “Introduction to Christianity”

    Cardinal Henri de Lubac “The Religion of Teilhard de Chardin”

    You can find more information on the orthodoxy of Teilhard de Chardin from my blog:

    Finally, I sincerely appreciate the dialogue on Teilhard de Chardin and the opportunity to present the ideas contained in these comments. As Catholics, we have an obligation to learn from the Magisterium and leading theologians and I welcome any and all constructive criticism on my comments.

    Peace in Christ and the Church,
    W. Ockham

  6. Toad says:

    “I believe there is good in everything, even Satan or sin, or else God would not tolerate its existence.”

    I believe that your belief might well be a heresy itself, Burro.
    Despite that (or more likely because of it) I am strongly inclined to agree with you.
    One way or the other we shall very soon be put straight.

    The clear implication is, however – that “Good” can end up in Hell with Satan, along with “Bad.”
    Which seems daft to me.
    I’m with Borges and, just maybe Pope Francis. on this one:
    “Heaven and Hell seem out of proportion to me: the actions of men do not deserve so much.”
    Rings my bell, in a mere fifteen words.
    It would have taken me a hundred and fifty. Has done, in fact.

  7. Toad says:

    “…our recommendation is to stay away from Teilhard de Chardin’s writings. “

    Toad’s recommendation is to read them and then make your own mind up.
    No, it’s not very Catholic.

  8. I came across this post as I was reading another on NEO’s site. He had listed this one to the side and because I had read a fair amount of Chardin years ago it naturally grabbed my attention. Let me say by way of background that I was never and am not now into a New Age mindset – nor did I personally see that in Chardin’s work.

    The most impressive passage of Chardin which I still think about came from “Hymn of the Universe”. It is where Chardin describes the fact that he has not offered the Eucharist one Sunday while he was in China and realizes that he has neither bread nor wine to do so. So he offers back to God all that God has given – his entire universe. It is one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever read.

    it is easy for most of us to love that which is beautiful and accepted; less so for us to love that which is unattractive and out of favor. That is the challenge of becoming a faithful Christian – and that is why there are so few of us on planet Earth who can walk in the steps of a person such as Mother Teresa.

    If each of us tempered our righteous indignation with the love that God shows all of us, we would do better credit to ourselves and to His Universe.

  9. Toad says:

    ” Can I trust Teilhard de Chardin’s writings?”

    Yes, Just as far as you can trust ‘The Gospel according to Saint John,’ or ‘Capital,’ by Marx, or ‘Alice’s Adventures, etc,,’ by Carroll, or ‘The Origin of the Species,’ by Darwin.

    Just as far as you like, in fact.
    Simples. (Whatever that means.)

    But wait – when Toad looks again – he sees that we are actually being asked whether to trust The Man, rather than his writings.
    No idea, in that case.

  10. juwannadoright: Yes, you are referring to the Mass on the World which came from the Hymn of the Universe. That is one of my favorite pieces from Teilhard de Chardin also. Coincidentally, my posting today contains an extended excerpt of Mass on the World (I will have more detail on the Feast of the Transfiguration in August)..

    W. Ockham

  11. johnhenrycn says:

    I got a WordPress message saying this comment “could not be posted”, but let me try one more time:

    Och aye, Mr Ockham, but you wield a sharp razor!
    [Note to self: Tell MyCavity, Adrian and Toad that if they wish to be contrarians, this is the way they should go about it.]

  12. johnhenrycn says:

    Can’t seem to leave a comment due to some sort of WordPress glitch. At least I have O’Brian’s Clarissa Oakes to keep me company, but I was interested in taking part in this discussion. Is it because I tried posting something in reply to Toad? Catch ya later.

  13. Toad says:

    “…or how much was due to a manipulation of his (Tielhard’s) own mind by the whirlwind of dissent and error he lived through and unwittingly absorbed.”

    In other words: “We are much cleverer than Tielhard, who was foolish enough to be deceived when we smartypants would never have been.”
    Quite, Hindsight is always 50-50

    Next: Deconstructing Rahner,

  14. Brother Burrito says:

    JH, Your comments are being published at this end. Try resetting your browser, clear the cache and cookies etc.

  15. johnhenrycn says:

    [I wonder if a link I gave is the problem? I will now leave it out…]

    Thanks, BB. Can’t seem to get around the glitch, but no matter. In response to the admonition that we stay away from Teilhard de Chardin’s writings, I was pointing out that Flanerry O’Connor, who everyone knows was a devout, conservative and traditionalist Catholic, did read him, and was influenced by him. Indeed, the title of her collection of short stories, Everything That Rises Must Converge, was taken from his Omega Point:

    “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.”

    If this comment appears, please delete any earlier versions, and thank you kindly.

  16. johnhenrycn says:

    Yes, the link was the problem, although some good Catholic Southerner at WordPress might also be incensed by my misspelling of Miss O’Connor’s Christian name 😉

  17. johnhenrycn says:

    But yes, but no…when all is said and done, isn’t it true that if he were alive today, we would put de Chardin in the same pigeonhole with that other eminent theologian thinker, Hans Küng?

  18. johnhenrycn says:

    …and actually, de Chardin and Küng would likely admit that Bishop John Shelby Spong (Episcopalian USA), belongs in their same compartment, thus completing our hat trick of transgressive divines.

  19. johnhenrcyncn: I am not super-familiar with the works of Hans Küng (I can look further when I get home this evening) but I do not see a lot of similarities between the two.

    First, Hans Küng was a systematic theologian, Teilhard de Chardin was a mystic and paleontologist who translated these charisms in his writings. Part of the problem that Teilhard had was that the language he used was unique that did not fit within any of the conventional boxes.

    Second, while both Hans Küng and Teilhard de Chardin both had their challenges with Church hierarchy during their lifetimes, they reacted very differently. When Küng was prohibited from teaching Theology, he continued to publish and speak in public forums, pursuing his agenda. When Teilhard was prohibited from teaching theology, he went to China to work on paleontology and only write for himself and for a small group of Jesuit friends with the hope of getting formal Church approval. Teilhard was exceptionally obedient to his Superiors and accepted the check of Church Authority, recognizing ultimately the will of God will prevail. As Teilhard stated:

    “I hope never to do anything against the Church outside of which I can see no current having any chance of success . . . Always to love the Church, the true Church” (quoted in Robert Speaight, “The Life of Teilhard de Chardin”, p. 114).

    “It would be impossible for me to seek loyally a way outside the Church. I’m like a man who sees a light shining through the mist . . . impossible to reach our Lord otherwise than by going forward through the mist — that is to say, than by belonging more and more closely to the Church.”

    I can not imagine Teilhard writing an article “The Failures of Pope Wojtyla” like Küng did. Ultimately, Teilhard’s vision has been incorporated into mainstream Catholic theology (despite misconceptions such as those contained in the original blogpost:-).

    It is likely not a coincidence that Küng’s old colleague Pope Benedict XVI is a fan of Teilhard de Chardin as both had/have a deep love for Christ and deep respect for the tradition of the Church. I do not doubt Küng’s love of Christ but I believe it is fair to say that he values tradition less than either Benedict or Teilhard.

  20. Frere Rabit says:

    W. Ockham, I am very impressed with your well referenced comments and will possibly modify my own views once I have verified these ireferences. One of the problems with a highly nuanced collection of philosophical writings is that we non-philosophers rely on interpretation by others.

  21. I can say with 100% certainty Teilhard de Chardin would vehemently disagree with Bishop Shelby on many things. Teilhard de Chardin criticized the Church of his time for having too small of a vision of Christ. Sprong would eliminate the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth entirely. Compare these two statements:

    Sprong: “It becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.”

    Teilhard: “A Christ, without historical personification, would not be capable (either in fact or reason) of emerging from metaphysical abstractions or hypotheses. The ‘success’ of the Christ of Christianity is due to the association of his birth (which gives him the value of a fact or concrete element in the world) and his resurrection (which lets us grant him superhuman and, if it were, cosmic attributes) . . . Christ must be endowed with certain physical properties . . . radically different than a simple prophet, who is a vehicle of truth without being in the least a center which organizes the universe. Christ must always be far greater than our greatest conceptions of the world, but for two or three centuries we have allowed him to appear hardly equal to them, or even smaller. That is why Christianity is so anaemic at the present moment.”

    W. Ockham

  22. johnhenrycn says:

    Well, William, I defer (seriously) to your superior knowledge of the writings and thought of Fr Teihard de Chardin. While I cannot say that he’s anywhere near the top of my reading list, I will suspend further negative comments concerning him until I have given his works some actual time.

  23. johnhenrycn says:

    Spong, not “Sprong”. But now you are going to say Teilhard, not “Teihard”. Your serve 🙂

  24. Frere Rabit says:

    W. Ockham, congratulations. This blog rarely sees such a coherent and thoughtful intervention, questioning the received wisdom of a blogpost and our own bias. Your comments should send every one of us back to square one, to review our opinion of Fr Teilhard de C. Thank you.

  25. Wow, thank you for sharing that. It was clearly researched and the part about Malachi Martin pretty much sealed the deal for me. Too many people today think that they can dabble around, mix faiths and other ideas – and it ends in disaster.

    And the more time passes, the more everything becomes watered down, until those who once seemed terrible seem less and less so…it is all a mess.

    God bless you.

  26. Frere Rabit: Thank you for the kind words. I am certainly not a theologian or philosopher but I was initially Pierre Teilhard de Chardin when I read Pope Benedict’s “Introduction to Christianity” at a time when I was in the spiritual wilderness so I am somewhat familiar with their writings. I was struck by the clarity, thoroughness and freshness of Benedict’s book and especially his (albeit somewhat limited) references to Teilhard de Chardin. As a result I have done a lot of further reading and study and I continue to be very attracted to the ideas of both men. They are similar in some respects and very different in others. The commonality that really strikes me is the richness and depth of faith that both of them have.

    W. Ockham

  27. Frere Rabit: Thanks for the kind words. For initial starters, I would recommend reading Chapter 2 of Pope Benedict’s “Spirit of the Liturgy” (which is partially quoted above). It is a short, easy read and captures the core of Teilhard’s mystical Eucharistic vision. If you are interested in more theological analysis, I recommend Cardinal Henri de Lubac’s “The Religion of Teilhard de Chardin” which takes Teilhard’s writings and puts them in a more systemic theological context.

    I apologize if I come across as overly polemic in these comments. I am a fan of Teilhard de Chardin and do not like to see his legacy distorted. Unfortunately it happens even more with non-believers who try to take certain concepts of Teilhard but separate out the Christianity. The result is like a cola that has been left out overnight; flat and terrible taste. Christ was the center of Teilhard’s writings and his life. It is impossible to separate that out.

    W. Ockham

  28. Toad says:

    “In 1962, the Vatican issued a monitum, or warning, on his writings. They reiterated it in 1981 because some folks thought it was no longer in effect. Rome banned publication of most of his books and said they could not be retained in libraries (including those of religious institutes) or sold by Catholic bookstores, etc. And, he was kept from writing or teaching on philosophical studies.”
    …In view of the illuminating discussion on here – it’s clear that nobody has taken a blind bit of notice of what the Church told them to do.
    Are Teilhard readers all in sin, therefore?

    There seems an element of, “Don’t read that – it might make you think,” in all this.

  29. kathleen says:

    Wow Toad…. for once you have made a really sensible and relevant comment that goes right to the crux of the matter.
    Everyone extolling the writings of Teilhard de Chardin is going against the Catholic Church’s monitum warning of the dangers inherent in them.

  30. kathleen says:

    Thanks juwannadoright,

    Very interesting comment….. and nice to meet you! 🙂

    Yes, some of Teilhard de Chardin’s work is indeed very poetical and Christian, and it can be difficult to weed out what is unorthodox and leave what is fine. That’s why the Catholic Church has not banned his work, but has given out a serious warning of where some of his more pantheistic ideas can lead one.

    Btw, I’m also a fan of much of NEO‘s blog (though I’m ignorant of US politics). He’s a great guy!

  31. kathleen says:

    I also thank you for your learned contributions on this subject, and agree with Rabit that it is about time we returned to some serious and interesting discussion on the blog. I also apologise for not responding to you before…. Family commitments kept me busy and away from the computer!

    First let me say that I am in no way attacking Pierre Teilhard de Chardin personally, and I am edified by your descriptions of his evident humility and obedience to Church authorities, and Rabit’s tale of his gallant exploits in WWI. It is only his contributions as a theologian and author (though I admit to being neither of these things myself) that I have deep reservations with.

    I was young during the seventies and eighties, and it was precisely his type of philosophy and writings that was starting to send me down the dangerous path of pantheistic New Age thought – and consequently weaken my Catholic Faith – until, through grace and faithful helpers, I realised what was happening and got back on track.

    Yes, I was aware that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had quoted Teilhard de Chardin in some of his talks and books, and although I admit to finding that rather disconcerting at first, it is explainable by the very fact that some of Teilhard’s work is indeed mystically attractive and good.
    There is where the danger lies: it mixes wholly Christian sentiment written in beautiful language to appeal to the reader, with New Age ideas that are – although I realise you will disagree – extremely dangerous and misleading.

    I’ll get back to you later this afternoon if you reply, but for now let me just quote the famous words: “there are many paths, and each man treads a Virgin path to God.” If you have found that his work enlarges your soul while remaining a faithful Catholic, I congratulate you for it. Definitely it is not my path.

  32. Toad says:

    “Wow Toad…. for once you have made a really sensible and relevant comment…”

    What you really mean, Kathleen, is that = for once – I’ve said something you agree with.

  33. Toad says:

    “…there are many paths, and each man treads a Virgin path to God.”
    ..In other words, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. It’s all relative, isn’t it?

    “ the very fact that some of Teilhard’s work is indeed mystically attractive and good.”

    But…if it’s all forbidden as you say, Kathleen how can any of us ever get to know what it’s like?
    How, in fact, do you, personally know that any of the man’s work is “good,” let alone “mystically attractive,”unless you have read it – and then decided for yourself?

    And, if you have indeed done so, why shouldn’t the rest of us?
    (Or am I missing the point, as usual?)

  34. kathleen says:

    @ Toad, 10:53

  35. kathleen says:

    …there are many paths, and each man treads a Virgin path to God.”
    ..In other words, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. It’s all relative, isn’t it?

    Relativism? Ugh!! No Toad, there is only One Truth (contained in the Dogmas, Doctrines and Teachings of the Catholic Church), but many ways to live and practice them. As human beings we all have our own characters, tastes, methods (i.e. ‘paths’), but as Catholics we are all going in the same direction….. or should be!

    For example: we have many religious orders in the Catholic Church. ‘Why so many?’ you might say, if they are all proclaiming the same Truth. And it is precisely because each one appeals to different types of people, with distinctive approaches and methods in the way they live and practice the same Faith.

    To your second point, I can only give you my own personal experience, while pointing out again, that the monitum given by Holy Mother Church warning the Faithful of the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, are for its own good. New Age thinking is dangerous.
    I came across his philosophy because Modernism and New Age ideas had invaded the Church at the time I was growing up, in the aftermath of Vatican II! I didn’t go out looking for it – it was everywhere!

    Personally I’m glad I escaped it. When I saw Liz Estler’s article (that I quote above) I thought of making a post on the subject.

  36. kathleen says:

    Thank you RTS. I agree with the ‘watering down’ of the true Faith with Teilhard de Chardin’s pantheistic approach.
    Yes, let us ‘reclaim what is sacred’ and not meddle with what might seem to be attractive, but could be poison to the soul. We must cling to what we know to be good and true, for it is so easy to get waylaid by error.

    I love your blog, BTW, and I’ve been looking in there recently.

  37. You are welcome. 🙂

    Yes, you put it well – we have to cling to the good and the true – really hold fast. For dear life, because so much around will try to drag us down.

    I am glad I read your post so that I will know now if I see that name.

    Thank you for the comment about my blog too. I really appreciate it a lot, and I like yours as well! 🙂

    God bless you.

  38. kathleen says:

    You recriminate Malachy Martin for being critical of the Church, while at the same time saying: “Teilhard de Chardin criticized the Church of his time for having too small of a vision of Christ.”
    Why should Martin be in the wrong, and Teilhard be in the right, for doing the exact same thing, criticising what they saw was wrong in the church? (Although their criticisms were totally different, of course.)

    Malachy Martin had a deep love for the Church, and that is why he could not remain in the Jesuit order that had so embraced Modernism at the time. He was an outspoken defender of Truth. No wonder he criticised those he saw were trying to infiltrate and destroy that which he held so dear. He never criticised the Catholic Church itself, only those he believed were its enemies…. and his very own order of Jesuits were (tragically) some of its leaders. “Corruptio optimi pessima est” (the corruption of the best is the worst) is something he was often heard to say.

    I am well aware of the harsh criticisms Martin has always been the brunt of, and how many tried to blacken his name for the way he courageously condemned what he saw were blatant heresies among some powerful members of the Church. He was an exorcist too, and knew only too well the tricks and wiles of the Devil. He remained a faithful Catholic to the end of his life.

  39. Kathleen:

    Thank you for responding. My apologies if I came across as overly polemic. I agree with you on the dangers of the “New Age” movement (I view it as the equivalent of intellectual Twinkies, manufactured food-type products of no nutritional value), I would posit that the writings of Teilhard de Chardin could be your best ally in your discussions as all of his writings, thoughts and life presupposed the living Christ of the Catholic Church. Here is an example on Teilhard responding to the proto-New Age (how is that for an oxymoron) beliefs of his time:

    “It is well worth taking the trouble to observe the fact without being side-tracked by the polymorphous appearance of the new faith, and the infantile way in which it is often expressed. In a few generations, mankind has been literally and spontaneously converted to a sort of religion of the world – ill-defined in its dogmas but perfectly clear in its moral orientations . . .

    To consummate is to Christianize. And if we are to effect that transformation, we shall need more, we feel, than a purely intellectual or negative criticism that destroys the false forms of materialism and pantheism. Our mission is to assume the religious spirit of the modern world, in its natural fullness, and to live it, fully and sincerely, on the Christian plane. The religious aspirations of modern humanitarianism is distressingly vague and aimless. It is for us to show, verbo et exemplo, that only the concrete reality of Christ is at hand to strengthen them, give them a central focus, and to bring them to salvation. When Christians, in virtue of their very Christianity, through the constructive activity of their charity, through their renunciation-positive and fruitful-through the confident boldness of their supernatural views-when they show themselves to be the first of men to spiritualize earthly values and press forward into the future-then the better, which means the most dangerous, part of human unbelief will be disarmed, its very soul left defenseless.”

    Teilhard de Chardin; Science and Christ, (pp. 114, 117).

    You may have given me some ideas for a blogpost on Teilhard de Chardin and the Vatican Report on the New Age Movement “Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life.”

    Peace in Christ,
    W. Ockham

  40. Toad says:

    Toad will borrow a page from JH’s book here – and put up a bit of video suggesting – in view of our abhorrence of all things smacking of “Modernism,” and “New Age,” that the song in the link become the Official Anthem of CP&S.
    It is not generally known that Cole Porter originally wrote it in protest against Vatican Two.
    That’s probably because he wrote it around 1934, but, being exceptionally clear-sighted, he could see the way things were headed, even back then,

    (Rate This: Rotten.)

  41. johnhenrycn says:

    Cute, Toad. Who can’t like a bouncy musical treat like that? Great way to start the morning.

  42. kathleen says:

    William @ 23:36 (18/7)

    No, I do not think you come across as “overly polemic” at all, and I thank you for your good manners, and your ability to discuss this subject so rationally and politely, when you clearly disagree with the article above.

    The quotes you give from Teilhard de Chardin are extraordinarily difficult to understand. And it appears that I am not the only one who finds them so. When, with patience, I laboured through them, I began to realise, once again, how hazardous Teilhard’s writings could be. It is a mixture of mostly harmless Christian sympathies (at least in the passages you have quoted), in a verbose and convoluted language, saying here (I think) that we should live in the world as good Christians, giving example to others…. and then suddenly some very obscure notions, like that worldliness also contains a “religious spirit” that we should embrace. For instance:

    Our mission is to assume the religious spirit of the modern world, in its natural fullness, and to live it, fully and sincerely, on the Christian plane.”

    This is utter nonsense. There is no “religious spirit of the world”; the worldly spirit is one of selfishness and greed. And what on earth does he mean by “natural fullness” and living it “fully and sincerely”? Sounds pretty risky to me. The world, the flesh and the devil are the three enemies of the soul – as represented in Our Blessed Lord’s parable of the sower.
    First and foremost we should model ourselves on Christ. And to do that we must learn our Faith, its teachings and history, read the Bible, the lives of the saints etc. Then Christians should arm themselves with the virtues and sacraments of the Church to combat the worldly spirit. Yes, we are in the world, but not of the world.

    William, I do not think you will convince me that Teilhard de Chardin’s writings reflect the mind and heart of Christ as a whole. Although I am sure there are many things he wrote that do, I think one should be wary where there is so much that is untrustworthy… and perhaps unorthodox. The Vatican would not have issued this moonitum against him were it not so.

  43. William, thank you for your replies and also for the Christian way in which you conduct it. I accidentally stumbled on this site while I was searching for more material on de Chardin. I am in the middle of reading a book on Teilhard’s life written by an Afrikaans protastant systematic theogian (I am an Afrikaans protestant pastor), Jaap Durand, in which he presents Teilhard’s thinking as a great integration of scientific thinking and orthodox spirituality. He actually wrote this book in reaction to some New Atheist proponents that we have to deal with in South Africa at the moment. Il will surely be visiting your blog to attain some more wisdom and knowledge concerning Teilhard de Chardin. Thanks again.

  44. Roedolf, thank you for your kind words. Thank you for the reference to Jaap Durand. Could you please tell me the name of the book you are reading. Is it “The Many Faces of God?”. I look forward to learning more about Durand.

    I have done a recent post on Teilhard de Chardin expanding on some of the ideas in these comments and correcting some of the misperceptions (from a Catholic perspective).

    W. Ockham

  45. James says:

    First of all William, you seem to be misrepresenting the names he quoted here. This is the first time I’ve heard someone say Malachi Martin actually attacked the Church in his writings. You are also in error when you say that he left the priest hood. True, he left the Jesuits and was dispensed of his vows of poverty and obedience but in New York Cardinal Cooke gave him back his priestly faculties. (meaning he was allowed to operate as a priest until he died.)

    I would also note that Detrich von Hildebran is really not a “marginal theologians” (philosopher), seeing as Pope John Paul II pretty much got his inspiration for theology of the body from his writings.

    Also, regarding Pope Benedict’s quote about Chardin I have two things to say. First, the book that comes from was first published in 1968 before Benedict was Pope. Secondly, just from that quote I really get the feeling that he is describing someone who is a pantheist. I wonder if Benedict would have the same opinion after all this time, as he has clearly changed his positions in other areas.

    Regarding Chardin, really the debate we are in here surrounds what is called Theistic Evolution. Although I have to say that I do have some “New Age” friends and some of the stuff they tell me sound an awful lot like Chardin’s writings.

    I found this video a good introduction:

    Dietrich von Hildebrand’s book Trojin Horse in the City of God

    A number of lengthy articles confronting Chardin and theistic evolution.

    I feel I should also remind people of the maxim “always differ, never deny, always differentiate” when approaching these issues. Remember, be not lead astray by strange and false doctrines.

  46. James says:

    I would also like note that the two warnings issued by the Church have never been recalled or contradicted officially. So technically, they still stand, no matter what certain Chardin supporters may say to the contrary. So keep this in mind if you refuse to change your views on his writings.

  47. Sue says:

    As Teilhard himself remarked several times, some people just aren’t ready or able to understand, and so must by their closed minds put everything they don’t comprehend in a box of condemnation of their own making. I am sorry that you have missed the genius and the beauty of this man’s writing, particularly as he brought so many to the Church and to God. A pity, but nothing new for Teilhard. .

  48. jim1972jvc says:

    Fr. Joseph Fessio S.J. Was on Catholic Answers Live radio last month, and at 33:01 caller wanted to know if Teilhard de Chardin was a heretic. Fr. Fessio corrected him and told him about the warning that was issued, and how he was forbidden to publish his books, which was unfortunate as an interchange between scholars and Church authorities never occurred with his works while he was alive. His thoughts are that his two most famous books “THE PHENOMENOMENON OF MAN and THE DIVINE MILIEU are outstanding books which can be read with profit.”

  49. Michael Jacobs says:

    Found this because I was researching “The Holy Longing”, by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser. He quotes Teilhard de Chardin and unfortunately, praises him.. Rolheiser’s book is a new age mess as well. Thank you for your help.

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