Saturday, May 3, 2014


The conclusion of this brilliant article by Henri Rambaud, every bit as relevant today as when it was penned in 1966.

Part One can be read here.  Part Two can be read here.

(Editor's note:  I think it interesting that many of Tielhard's diehard supporters [play on words intended] have some interesting thoughts on him as it concerns the current papacy:   Also, in view of M Rambaud's article which concludes below we must not forget the statement of Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombardi, who said: "By now no one would dream of saying that [Teilhard] is a heterodox author."  Well, I would dream that, Father Lombardi.) 


The story does not stop here. According to Fr d'Ouince, who obviously heard it from Teilhard, Fr G's reply to Teilhard was a brief note 'saying that he (Fr G) had evidently jumped to the wrong conclusion and asking him (Teilhard) to forgive him'. However, two months later, Fr G is alleged ‘to have tried to interpret' Teilhard's letter ‘in his own favour'. No doubt Teilhard got to hear of it. He was worried. He no longer had the text of his letter to hand, he might in the heat of his conviction have said too much in it, and he was likely to get into considerable trouble if the document were read by the wrong persons. He thought it wise to forestall the danger.

We can never be grateful enough to Fr d'Ouince for publishing the note, dated 21 December 1950, that Teilhard sent him for this purpose. Read in the context of the letter to Fr G, Fr d'Ouince himself will be even better able to appreciate the full flavour of the note. It is a little masterpiece, not too inaccurate, and well calculated to give anyone who does not have the first letter to hand exactly the impression Teilhard wants him to have. We can recommend the comparison of the two letters to any Teilhard addict as a first-class exercise in textual analysis:

'Really G has gone too far. He sent me a long letter in September, to which I replied "as from one priest to another", admitting certain present difficulties, hoping that one day we may converge, but maintaining what I believe from the bottom of my heart: namely that the only possible rallying -point is on the Roman axis. Of course I do not remember the exact phrases I used. But, if G has used my letter, he has committed "a breach of confidence". In any case, I have quickly stopped this dialogue, which could not lead anywhere: G. does not belong to the same intellectual “species” as myself…I apologise for adding to your worries. May the Lord give us His faith (that is the one He wishes to give us): “Dominus meus et Deus meus.”’(26)

(Vraiment G abuse. A une longue lettre de lui en septembre, j’ai répondu “de prêtre à prêtre”, reconnaissant certaines difficultés présentes, espérant la convergence, mais maintenant ce que je crois du fond du coeur: à savoir que rein ne peut se grouper que sur l’axe romain. – Je ne me rappelle naturellement pas mes phrases. Mais si G. s’en est servi, c’est un « abus de confiance ». J’ai du reste arrêté rapidement une conversation qui ne pouvait mener à rien : G. n’étant pas de mon « espèce » intellectuelle…Pardon de vous créer des ennuis de plus. Et que le Seigneur nous donne sa foi (celle qu’il désire nous donner) : « Dominus meus et deus meus. »)

The reader may well rub his eyes in astonishment! Was the letter we have transcribed really a letter ‘from priest to priest’? But we must not be too severe. The phrase, in Teilhard’s mind, is probably not a lie. It is probably only a very strong ‘mental reservation’; he had his own idea about what a priest ought to be, and he was conscious of no insincerity in using in his own sense a term which Fr d’Ouince would interpret differently. The final parenthesis is a moving prayer: the faith which the Lord wishes to give us! Nothing could be more orthodox than this formula. But how disturbing it is to see it used here with the implication that Teilhard does not know which faith it is and consequently, doubts whether it is the faith of the Church....

Teilhard's alarm proved unnecessary. We do not know much more about his relationship with Fr G. but we have every reason to think that, either on his own accord or at Teilhard's request, Fr G behaved like a gentleman and did not commit the dreaded breach of confidence. There are few things indeed which escape the notice of the Society of Jesus; we should find it hard to believe that they would have defended Teilhard as strongly as they are doing if a text showing their great man in so unflattering a light were in circulation. Besides, since Teilhard's death, the rare Teilhardists who know of its existence have, as we have seen, carefully kept it hidden 'under a bushel'.

Attempt at an explanation

One might well think, in view of the surprising importance of Teilhard in current Catholic thought and his friends' tendency to depict him as a model of all the virtues, that quite a different 'breach of confidence' had been committed, not at Teilhard's expense but at that of the rest of us. But if honesty compels us to bring such a revealing document as Teilhard's letter to the attention of a wider public, we are also bound in honesty not to draw unfair conclusions from, it. For the letter makes Teilhard look like a heretic who has camouflaged himself as a faithful Christian in order to spread heresy more effectively; and this, we believe, is how one must see the facts if one is to see them as they are. Nevertheless, the problem has other aspects, and when we take these into account it is difficult to maintain that Teilhard was at bottom quite as black as we have painted him. Could he really have been such a traitor – a Turmel or a Jury (27) - when for all their unmistakeable precautions his writings do not show the slightest sign of perfidiousness? And even if we do not necessarily accept the testimony of his brother Jesuits at their face value, it would be just as wrong to brush that testimony aside.

How can we explain the obvious contradiction between the reality of Teilhard’s thoughts and actions and his apparent loyalty to everything the Church required of him, if all we know of his character rules out sheer hypocrisy as a solution?

Our answer is that there is a certain duplicity in Teilhard. But this does not lie in the difference between the public 'personna' he assumed and the real Teilhard he knew himself to be and wanted to be. This would have been conscious deceit. The duplicity lies more in an alteration, or vacillation, between the two aspects of his innermost personality (thus making him a particularly striking case of "schizophrenia').

We must always remember the 14-year-old boy from Auvergne whom Henri Bremond taught in his language and literature classes at the College de Mongré: 'Very intelligent, top of his form in all subjects, but desperately quiet.' It was impossible to arouse the slightest gleam in his eyes, for he was living in another world, 'utterly absorbed in one overpowering passion'. (28) This is the first piece of evidence we have about Teilhard's essentially two-fold nature. On one side there is the quiet boy who does everything he is told, who a year later becomes Prefect of the school branch of the Congregation, and receives at the end of his studies the First Prize for his all-round academic performance and Second Prize for good conduct - in short, a model pupil of the Society of Jesus, well on the way to becoming the perfect Jesuit. But on the other hand there is the visionary for whom nothing exists save the dream that he is obsessively pursuing.

This 'overpowering passion' was his interest in stones. Then follow the three years 1916, 1917 and 1918, the crucial years of his existence, the years of his conversion in the religious sense of the word, the years of his 'second birth', and from then on his passion becomes an ambition to integrate within the Church what before his time had commonly been called 'the religion of Progress' (for this is really all that Teilhardism is in essence). Only for him Progress has widened to take in a very generalised theory of Evolution.

We have seen to what lengths this 'hobby' was finally to lead him. It led him in the end to conceive the absurd chimaera of a Catholicism thoroughly new in its substance, a Catholicism that so attracted him that his first tentative glimpse of it in 1919 made his former religious life seem 'childish' to him. He did not realise that in his blinding enthusiasm to 'share the preoccupations, hopes, activities which made the elite of today's mankind, natural mankind, live' (29), he was rejecting not a 'childishness', but just the religion of the humble and of the Saints, the simple piety of Saint Bernadette and the Cure d'Ars, the 'little way' of Saint Therese of Lisieux.

This may not be the ultimate truth about Teilhard (for only God can know his real nature), but at least it is Teilhard as we see him at his most deliberate and international level in his writings — it is the Teilhard of 'Teilhardism'. Basically he is a reformer, and alongside his characteristic obstinacy, one who was most richly endowed with the cardinal virtue of all reformers and founders of religions, i.e. not intelligence but faith. His faith is the sort that moves mountains, and this is one of the reasons for his success But, at the same time, behind all the insane day-dreams, the quiet child remains, and although more reassuring, this other face of Teilhard is not just a mask — it corresponds to that docility of behaviour which is just as essentially part of his nature as his indomitable faith in his own ideas. Thus it is not out of hypocrisy that Teilhard subscribes to dogmas and goes through the motions of a Christian; it is just that he has put the object of his real preoccupations into another compartment of his mind.

The reader is now in a better position to understand why Teilhard rejected Fr G's suggestion.

Teilhard himself gave two reasons for this refusal, but there was a third and stronger reason, and a more honourable one, moreover: namely that he belonged to the Church (that Church that he slandered and misunderstood so lightly and so unjustly) with every fibre of his being. He could never see himself as a dissident priest; to him it would have been a shameful desertion. No one could maintain, least of all himself, that his attempt to reconcile his beliefs with his behaviour as a Catholic had much intellectual coherence in it, but he had been living so long in a position that anyone else would have found false that he had almost stopped suffering from its falseness. He was quite ready to admit the possibility of others choosing, like Fr G, the opposite solution, and the reason he gives for this underlines yet again the essential Modernism of his thinking, by the precedence it gives 'Life' over against truth. What does it matter whether one belongs or does not belong to the true religion when 'all upward movements converge' and when, whether one is inside or outside, one can still do worthwhile work, that is, move in the direction Evolution is taking.

Two things must however be said.

The first is that it is laughable - and the best jokes are the shortest ones - to present Teilhard as a paragon of obedience. He is exactly the opposite, the very type of the irreductible rebel under the outward guise of submissiveness. Rome tells him again and again that he is mistaken, but he does not change one single feature of his mental universe. No one would have asked him to renounce the whole of his thinking at one go. Such things cannot be done to order. But he could at least have made an effort, examined himself, sought a way of reconciling his vision or what he thought was his vision with what Rome was telling him. This he never made the slightest attempt to do. It is only too clear that if Rome and he are in disagreement, the fault, for him, must clearly lie with Rome. At bottom he was not prepared to receive the words of life from the Church, but to offer them to Her. His whole dream is to act as the Churches midwife and to help the old Mother to bring to birth the new faith She is unwittingly carrying in her womb and which tomorrow will be the religion of all Mankind.

Even at the level of action one cannot call his docility perfect. It is true that in the matter of formal obedience he accepted without a complaint sacrifices which cost him dear. But he never in any way renounced pursuing with all his strength a goal that Rome had condemned. To do so would have been to betray the mission he felt he had been given (as Renan might have said) ‘by a specific decree of Eternal God, naming him'. It must be said in his favour here that he seems to have been encouraged in this course by not a few of his friends, even within the Society of Jesus, which as early as this was already beginning to oppose what is now called ‘integrism’.

The second point we must make is that this deliberate dissociation of behaviour from thought, (a characteristic feature of Modernism), is not as comfortable an attitude as it seems, and inevitably entails frequent lapses from straightforwardness. We do not say that these have been more frequent in Teilhard's life than in others' (we do not know enough about him to say), but we have the evidence here that some undoubtedly occurred (vis-à-vis Rome, Fr d’Ouince). They cannot have been the only lapses, for it was in the nature of his situation that he was not always able to reconcile his words and his thought.

His friends are making a great mistake in not admitting the existence of these blemishes. Saint Bernadette liked best those lives of Saints where the authors were not afraid of mentioning their defects; she liked them all the more for this. Teilhard is admittedly not a saint, but even so he would gain in being shown as he really was. People would then realise that he is above all an exceptional 'case’, and people would bear his peculiar mental make-up in mind as an extenuating circumstance. However submissive he appeared outwardly, he cared so little about whether his judgment accorded with the mind of the Church that we cannot consider him submissive in Spirit. But despite this insubordination in his conscious thinking he seems to have retained at a deeper level of his being quite a high level of personal spirituality (at least at certain periods of his life), and we feel that it would be a calumny to say that the attachment he professed for Jesus Christ was insincere. Who knows whether his stubbornness in error is perhaps to be ascribed to a really invincible blindness? It is not forbidden to hope so, particularly when confronted with the moving pages in which he speaks of his spiritual life.

It is a pity, all the same, that the faith of a man of such good faith was not the true Faith!

Saint Pius X, Prophet

The real scandal does not lie in the fact that Teilhard is Teilhard. The scandal is that Teilhardians exist, and that among them are eminent priests.

Many of them, no doubt, have not read his books, and that is their excuse. But others have read them, and these we do not understand. We do not accuse them of sharing Teilhard's unbalanced vision. But how could they defend it?

It is not that they have not been warned, and warned most solemnly. They have been warned by the voice of a man whose authority was unquestionable above all others at the time when he was addressing the whole of Christendom, even if it had not been enhanced when he was subsequently canonised.. Listen to the portrait he drew of certain innovators who, as he said, 'in intimate contact with the consciences of the faithful', claim 'to know their needs better than anyone else, and certainly better than the ecclesiastical authorities'.

'The authorities may reprimand them as much as they like: these innovators have a clear conscience that they are right, and possess an intimate conviction which tells them with absolute certitude that it is praise and not blame that is due to them. Then they reflect that progress has always had its ups and downs and its victims. If they are to be victims, then they are only following in the steps of the prophets and of Christ himself. They have no bitterness against the authority that ill-treats them; it is after all only doing its duty as an authority. But they cannot help but deplore authority's deafness to their appeals, for while it does so the obstacles are piling up in the path of souls striving towards the ideal. But the time will come, will surely come when delaying tactics will no longer be possible; one can delay evolution but one cannot stop it. And so they follow their own way; despite reprimands and condemnations, they continue, concealing their boundless audacity behind a deceitful appearance of submissiveness. They hypocritically bow their heads while all the time all their thoughts and all their energies are devoted to pursuing their set goal more boldly than ever.'

This was how St Pius X expressed himself on September 8, 1907 in his Encyclical PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS. Coming from a Pope whom many, while they must admit that he was venerable and pious, since the Church has raised him to its altars, consider to be quite out-of-date, this statement is not lacking in foresight! Indeed the resemblance to Teilhard and his supporters is so striking that we should have hesitated in transcribing this prophetic text, but for the fact that, when he called the Modernists 'the worst enemies of the Church, all the more dangerous in that they are preparing to ruin her from within', St Pius X had not taken care 'to keep their intentions separate (from their activities), and to leave it to God to judge the former'.


of 30 June 1962

Monitum – Quaedam vulgantur opera, e etiam post auctoris obitum edita, Patris Petri Teilhard de Chardin, quae non parvum favorem consequuntur.

Praetermisso judicio de his quae ad scientias positivias pertinent, in materia philosophica ac theologica satis patet praefata opera talibus scatere ambiguitatibus, immo etiam gravibus erroribus, ut catholicam doctrinam offendant.

Quapropter Emi ac Revmi Supremae Sacre Congregationis S. Officii Ordinarios omnes necnon Superiores Institutorum religiosorum, Rectores Seminariorum atque Universitatum Praesides exhortantur ut animos, praesertim juvenum, contra operum Patris Teilhard de Chardin ejusque asseclarum pericula efficaciter tutentur.

Datum Romae
Ex Aedibus S Officii
die, 30 junii 1962

OF 30 JUNE 1962

Warning — Certain works, even posthumous ones, of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin are spreading and are having no little success.

Leaving aside my judgment in so far as the positive sciences are concerned, it is sufficiently manifest that in the matter of philosophy and theology the aforementioned works are full of such ambiguities, or rather grave errors, as to offend Catholic doctrine.

For this reason the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Fathers of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office exhort all Ordinaries and also the Superiors of religious Institutes, Rectors of Seminaries and Principals of Universities effectively to safeguard the minds, especially of the young, against the dangers of the works of Father Teilhard de Chardin and of his supporters.

Holy Office
30 June 1962

'Galahads, of course, need no guidelines; they alone are the best judges of what they write and when to publish it. Authority in these matters is not for them. They justify their stand in terms of what they call the right of conscience. In their case, this is not so. What they are suffering from is the anarchy of private judgment warped by pride. Long ago, Luther experienced the same thing. I was reading only the other day that Hans Kung wants the Church to declare him no longer a heretic. Soon, I suppose, we will be invited by our dissident popularisers to pray for his canonization – in the interests, I imagine, of unity. Meanwhile, the English Martyrs, who represented a unifying principle as Luther never did, are well and truly out in the cold. They never yielded. That is why permissive Catholic dissidents are against their canonization.'
Rev Paul Crane SJ in CHRISTIAN ORDER June 1966

'Modernists and their admirers should remember the proposition condemned by Pius IX: "The method and principles which have served the doctors of scholasticism when treating of theology no longer correspond with the exigencies of our time or the progress of science (Syll. Prop. 13)
'They exercise all their ingenuity the force and falsifying the character of tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight. But for Catholics the second Council of Nicea will always have the force of law, where it "condemns those who dare after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind...or endeavour by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of Church"; and Catholics will hold for law, also, the profession of the fourth Council of Constantinople: "We therefore to conserve and guard the rules bequeathed to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church by the Holy and most illustrious Apostles, by the Orthodox Councils, both general and local, and by every one of those divine interpreters the Fathers and Doctors of the Church".'

Pope St Pius X in PASCENDI

‘... can anybody who takes a survey of the whole system be surprised that We, should define it [Modernism] as the synthesis of all heresies?
'Were one to attempt the task of collecting together all the errors that have been broached against the faith and to concentrate the sap and substance of them all into one, he could not better succeed than the Modernists have done. Nay, they have done more than this, for, as We have already intimated, their system means the destruction not of the Catholic religion alone but of all religion. With good reason do the rationalists applaud them, for the most sincere and the frankest among the rationalists warmly welcome the Modernists as their most valuable allies
Modernism leads to the annihilation of all religion. The first step in this direction was taken by Protestantism; the second is made by Modernism, the next will plunge headlong into atheism.

Pope St Pius X in PASCENDI


26 L'Homme devant Dieu, Oeuvres, col III PP 343 and note 16.
27 This refers to two priests who remained within the Church after losing their faith with the deliberate intention of propagating their viewpoints more effectively without openly revealing their unbelief.
Joseph Turmel: (1859-1943) who published many writings against the Church under various pseudonyms, was finally excommunicated in 1930. For details, students may refer to Emile Poulat, Histoire, dogme et critique dans la crise moderniste, Casterman, 1962, pp 327-332.
Paul Jury (1978-1953), ordained priest in 1903, lost faith in 1928. Students may refer to his Journal d’un prêtre, Gallimard, 1956, which leaves his hatred of the Church and his desire to harm it in no doubt. (Translator’s note)
28 Quoted by Claude Cuénot in Les Grandes Étapes, p. 16.
29 Notes pour servir â l'évangélisation des temps nouveaux (Cahiers- Teilhard de Chardin, IV, p. 14) Our emphasis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this very informative article. I finally understand the hubbub about Chardin. A religious sister who was a mentor to me way back when, summed him up succinctly when she quoted him: "I would believe more readily in the the evolution of the world than in Christ.' He puts nature's 'progress' before the living God.

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