Pope Pius XII called the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin “a cesspool of errors.” The Church’s condemnation of his writings remains in force.
Unfortunately, in The Catholic Register of Toronto for Feb. 3, 2012, there is a front full-page picture of de Chardin with the inscription “Studying the origins of the universe – The brilliance and spirituality of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin brought to life on stage.” On page ten is an article by Michael Swan with a favorable review of a play “The De Chardin Project” by actor and writer Adam Seybold, who belongs to “a liberal Protestant Church.” We are misinformed that de Chardin was a brilliant thinker who articulated the first positive Christian response to evolutionary theory. We are further told that today his thoughts on cosmology and evolution form that basis of contemporary [so-called] “Catholic” theologies of the environment.
The Life and Erroneous Writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
This is a much-condensed treatment of his life and writings:
1. He was born in south central France on May 1, 1881.
2. He was educated at the Jesuit College at Mongre and joined the Society of Jesus in 1899.
3. He continued philosophy and seminary education from 1901-05. This was followed by a three-year sojourn to Cairo, Egypt, where he taught physics and chemistry at a Jesuit school and developed his interest in paleontology. He went to England in 1908, studied theology and was ordained in 1911.
4. He returned to Paris and studied paleontology and took a doctorate in 1922.
5. For a short period he taught at the Catholic Institute in Paris but his unorthodox views, especially his rejection of Original Sin, led to his expulsion. He was exiled to China in 1923.
6. In 1926, his Superior forbade him to teach.
7. In 1933, the Holy See in Rome ordered him to give up his subsequent post in Paris.
8. In 1939, the Holy See banned his work “L’nergie Humaine.”
9. In 1941, de Chardin submitted to Rome “Le Phnomne Humain.” Its publication was forbidden.
10. In 1947, Rome also forbade him to write or teach on philosophical subjects.
11. In 1948, he was called to Rome and persisted in trying to get permission to publish “Le Phnomne Humain.” The Holy See renewed its’ prohibition of this work and forbade him to teach at the College de France.
12. In 1949, permission to publish “Le Groupe Zoologique” was also refused.
13. In 1955, his Superiors forbade de Chardin to attend the International Congress on Paleontology. That same year, de Chardin died in New York on Easter Sunday.
14. On June 30, 1962, a Monitum was given at Rome by the Holy Office: “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 reverend Fathers of the Holy Office exhort all Ordinaries as well as 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 Teilhard de Chardin and his followers.”
15. In 1963, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, in the name of Pope Paul VI, ordered that booksellers in Rome withdraw from circulation the works of de Chardin together with those books which favour his erroneous doctrines.
16. In 1967, in a reply to a question raised by the Apostolic Delegate to the United States concerning the previous Monitum condemning the works of de Chardin, the Holy See reiterated: “I wish to assure you that the Monitum issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is still in effect. At no time has a distinction been made with regard to any one of his writings.”
17. On July 20, 1981, the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office printed a Statement in L’Osservatore Romano reiterating the warning of the 1962 banning of the writings of Teilhard “against rumours that it no longer applied.”
Church Teaching Vs. the Errors of Teilhard de Chardin
Teilhard’s writings are full of heretical untruths condemned by the Church. Besides denying the Church’s infallible Doctrine of Original Sin (Catechism of the Catholic Church 385-421, 1440,1871-72), he did not believe in the supernatural, angels, the devil or hell. De Chardin was also a pantheist, who claimed that everything is God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 285 states: “Since the beginning the Christian faith has been challenged by responses to the question of origins that differ from its own. Ancient religions and cultures produced many myths concerning origins. Some philosophers have said that everything is God, that the world is God, or that the development of the world is the development of God (Pantheism).” In addition, Teilhard was a monist, a collectivist, a secularist, founder of a new religion and a religious evolutionist. (cf. “The Truth About Teilhard”, by Msgr. Leo S. Schumacher).
As a religious evolutionist, Teilhard erroneously claimed that everything is “becoming” and evolving and that God is evolving. Patrick Redmond of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars is the author of the book “From Adam and Eve to the Present” (Ave Maria Press, 2012). In it he notes, that DNA can be scientifically traced back to our first parents, one man and one woman, which confirms Church doctrine that human beings were created by God, beginning with Adam and Eve, and they did not evolve from lower animals.
In an article published in the Journal of the Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Summer-Fall 2010, Redmond tells us:
“The Church has had a long tradition of confirming that God created all from nothing, and we note here Lateran IV (1215), Vatican I (1859) and Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis. This last document, issued in 1950, states: discussion about the possibility of evolution of man from pre-existing matter is permitted. However this discussion was to be restricted and limited only to those experts in the human sciences and sacred theology and these same experts were specifically forbidden to teach as an established fact that man’s body evolved from a lower animal.”
Redmond continues: “Some Catholics dissent from this position. Teilhard de Chardin, was a notable dissident, a very influential theologian and heretic of the 20th century. Teilhard, while still a Jesuit student, became a member of the exclusive Count Begouen circle at Toulouse, the object of which was to propagate Darwin’s theory in France and to introduce it into the Catholic seminaries of Europe. He became one of the most active propagandists for the evolutionists.”
“Indeed, he became involved in at least two frauds claiming man evolved from a lower animal form of life. One was the Piltdown Man, used for 40 years to claim evolution, until proven to be deceptively stained human teeth. A second was the Peking Man, discovered while he worked at Peking Union Medical College funded by the Rockefeller Institute. Peking Man was shown eventually to be a monkey.”
While Catholics are free to believe in a theory of maxi-evolution, it is not proven and only a theory. There remains no proof of even one species evolving into another species. There is much proof of mini-evolution or changes within species.
Canada and the Spread of de Chardin’s New Religion
The errors of de Chardin have been widely spread in Canada by articles, lectures and in retreats, produced by individuals from Canada, the US and other places. For example, on Jan. 16, 2012, http://www.catholic.org advertised a “Free – Retreat with Teilhard de Chardin by Fr. Donald Georgen, O.P., Ph.D” in three CDs, produced by “Now Your Know Media”. We read “Through 6 audio conferences Fr. Goergen guides you through the mysticism of Teilhard, one of the greatest theological minds of the 20th century.”
Perhaps the most damaging vehicle of the errors of de Chardin has been the Canadian Catechism. The first edition of this was called “Viens au Pre,” disseminated in Quebec. Incidentally, 70 parishes have closed in Montreal recently so we can see the fruits of this and the contraceptive mentality. The catechists who composed this catechism were trained in a Catechetical School in Europe in which all the teachers were Jesuit followers of Teilhard de Chardin. This catechism was translated into English as “Come to the Father” and later named “Born of the Spirit”.
This catechism downplays Original Sin and the supernatural, including the existence of hell and mortal sin. As a result, many thousands of Catholic children have become religious illiterates. A Hamilton Sister of St. Joseph studied catechetics at the Pontifical Catechetical School at Erie, PA. She wrote her doctoral thesis showing the influence of de Chardin on the Canadian Catechism. Unfortunately the School closed and the thesis was lost. The author died and I was able to obtain only a portion of this excellent analysis.
“For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Tim 4:3). The errors of de Chardin continue to be propagated by such articles as that in The Catholic Register of Toronto.
A Brief Bibliography on the Errors of Teilhard
Besides the pontifical sources noted above, this is by no means a complete bibliography exposing the heresies in his works, but a representable one:
1. Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII, August 12, 1950, http://www.vatican.va
2. “Teilhard, Evolution and the Catholic Church”, reprinted from the Mindszenty Report, April 1977, PO Box 11321, Saint Louis, MO 63105; http://www.creationism.org/csshs/v14n4p22.htm.
3. “Christ Denied”, Fr. Paul Wickens, 1982, Tan Books and Publishers. It contains a detailed record of Ecclesiastical decisions regarding the person and writings of Teilhard de Chardin.
4. “Teilhardism and the New Religion – A Thorough Analysis of the Teachings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin”, Wolfgang Smith, 1988, Tan Books and Publishers Inc, PO Box 424, Rockford, IL, 61105.
5. “The Charitable Anathema”, Dietrich von Hildebrand, 1993, Roman Catholic Books, PO Box 255, Harrison, NY, 10528. Chapter XX is entitled “Teilhard de Chardin: Towards a New Religion.” Von Hildebrand exposes how Teilhard was a false prophet.
6. “In the Minds of Men: Darwin and the New World Order”, Ian Taylor, professor at the University of Toronto, 2003, TFE Publishing, 5th Ed., Zimmerman, MN. This book analyzes evolution and explains the error of theistic evolution. Available free online at: http://www.creationism.org/books/TaylorInMindsMen/index.htm
7. “Theistic Evolution: The Teilhardian Heresy”, Wolfgang Smith, 2102, Angelico Press, http://www.angelicopress.com, ISBN: 13: 978-1597311335, Price: $16.95.
Written by Monsignor Vincent Foy and first published in Catholic Insight magazine