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The church seems forever to be embracing those she once held in suspicion. Galileo Galilei, the Italian astronomer, is the most famous among them. But there are others, too, like Thomas Aquinas, Joan of Arc and Ignatius Loyola. The most recent candidate for rehabilitation is the Jesuit paleontologist, evolutionary philosopher and spiritual writer Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Vatican watchers have taken note of Pope Benedict XVI’s appeal to Teilhard during an evening prayer service he celebrated July 24 in Aosta, Italy, as a sign of re-appraisal of the priest and his thought. Citing Teilhard’s “great vision,” Pope Benedict urged that “we consecrate the world, so it may become a living host,” a phrase reminiscent of the French Jesuit’s eucharistic theology, in which all creation becomes an offering to God.

Teilhard articulated his vision during an expedition to the Ordos Desert of Inner Mongolia in 1923. Lacking the elements of unleavened bread and wine to celebrate Mass, he composed a poetic prayer, “Mass on the World” (published in Hymn of the Universe; Harper, 1961), offering the whole of creation in its evolutionary history as a host to God. Pope Benedict has previously praised the sense of cosmic liturgy in the Eastern church. His appeal to Teilhard adds the distinctive resonances of the Frenchman’s vision: a cosmos evolved over time and increasingly known by scientific investigation; a spiritual process that comes to consciousness in humanity, a humanity whose spirituality is found in activity as well as passivity; and a humanity called not only to live in the world but also to transform it.

The pope’s prayer in fact puts emphasis on our obligation to “transform the world.” In adopting this theme, his thinking seems to have developed along the same trajectory as that of Pope John Paul II. After the Second Vatican Council, both expressed dismay at the optimistic, Teilhardian tone of the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” with its focus on the cosmic Christ and its affirmation of the transformative power of the resurrection in history. Then-Bishop Karol Wojtyla complained that Christ the redeemer had been eclipsed by Christ in glory. As Pope John Paul II, he revised his opinion in his encyclical On Social Concern (1987). Likewise, Pope Benedict has come to write increasingly of the transformation of the earth as a Christian vocation. He writes in Charity in Truth, for example, “Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family” (No. 7). The pope appears to acknowledge that the kind of sensibility Teilhard possessed belongs to the full flowering of our human nature. To an unexpected degree, he voices trust in the graced capacity of human beings to transform the world and in so doing make it a more fitting offering to God.

Like Teilhard, Pope Benedict reminds us that the world we transform by our labor, our learning and our ingenuity contributes to Christ’s great offering of the world to God. The pope has pointed to an array of problems awaiting solution and transformation: the protection of human life and the environment, the expansion of the “responsibility to protect” to include provision of food and water for needy populations, and the creation of international structures to regulate speculation in financial markets and govern a global economy. Will American Catholics rise to the occasion, leading our fellow citizens to meet these challenges by taking new initiatives on behalf of the human family? Or will we allow ourselves to fall back, enthralled by the idols of self-aggrandizement and self-amusement that so captivate our culture?

Decline is our civilization’s future if recovery from the global fiscal crisis returns to the consumerist pattern of the late 20th-century America. Consumption has its place in creating a floor of material well-being. But after a point it becomes debilitating to the soul and to society. The transformation of the world certainly involves the expansion of markets—not primarily among the affluent, however, but rather among the poor. Furthermore, human creativity needs to be directed by fuller aspirations than improvements in material welfare alone, because human beings are more and desire more: aesthetically, intellectually, athletically, ecologically, religiously. In whatever field we endeavor to transform the world—science, engineering, communications, business, the arts—we must aim at promoting sustainable, fully human development at rising levels of well-being for all and for everyone. At the end, when this transformation has reached its fullness, as Teilhard wrote, “the presence of Christ, which has been silently accruing in things, will suddenly be revealed—like a flash of light from pole to pole.”

Comments

Bob Colbert | 8/24/2009 - 5:04pm
Teilhard was a part of a group French Jesuits who met us  VMF 115 on arrival in Peking shortly after WWII and d irecected us to a group of Benedictine women who had been abandoned by my Church when they refused to leave the children when the rest of my Church cut and run with the invasion of Japanese.  Teilhard was also abandoned by my Church...You and the Pope are a little late in recognizining  the women and Teilheard who was repudiated by your  boys in THE order and aband oned by his Church..... 
Glenn | 8/18/2009 - 9:56am
After three decades of respect, admiration and struggle in reading TdC's works, I feel that Flannery O'Connor, has perhaps provided most the most insightful comments on how best to understand him in the context of science and Catholicism.

I am grateful to the above link http://tcreek1.jimdo.com/ which has a section of Flannery's comments and is a good starting point for reflection on TdC.. written by one of our keenest minds, and staunchest Catholics.
Colin Donovan | 8/17/2009 - 5:46pm
Before anyone canonizes de Chardin, approval of one or two ideas does not  amount to much. After all, the Church also quotes Tertullian, who left the faith, and Origin, who taught some questionable things. What is good in de Chardin must be understood conformable to the faith, as well. Poetically understood, fine. Man, the conscious one in the equation, praises God and works toward the Kingdom on behalf of himself and creation. This same man uses natural things in the liturgy and thus joins their "worship" to his, and by using the earth morally, cooperates in God's plan, in which creation itself groans for redemption.
HOWEVER, any idea of progressive evolutionary perfection is contrary to the Gospel, as the Catechism explicitly tells us (CCC 677). God, not we, not evolving creation, will overthrow the evil and imperfection of this fallen world, at one fell swoop, at the Last Trumpet. Pope Benedict certainly did not intend otherwise. 
Don | 8/13/2009 - 4:10pm
I have created a web site about Teilhard.
http://tcreek1.jimdo.com/
Richard Sullivan | 8/13/2009 - 12:57pm

 

I think that the Church accepts evolution as a reasonable explanation of the origin of man even though it has not reformulated its teachings on original sin, which are based upon the creation story in Genesis.


I do not believe that man was created in a perfect state, and subsequently disobeyed God and introduced evil into the world thereby upsetting the whole balance of nature. Thus, I don’t believe in original sin as it was taught to me or the consequences thereof as described by Thomas Aquinas. If I don’t believe in this original sin then I can’t believe in redemption as taught by Paul and the Church.


That there is evil in the world perpetrated in part by man and also in part not by man is unquestionable. I also believe that there could not be good in the world or free will if there were no evil. If everything were good then good would be an automatic reality, it seems to me. There would be no challenges in life. There would be no growth. There would be no love freely given and freely received.


Redemption for me becomes the life, the love and the teachings of Christ, not an expiating death on a cross. That death was an act of evil by evil people in authority who felt threatened by a man whom the people followed because the Spirit of God was within him in everything he said and did.  Should Christ have accepted their evil without any attempt to defend himself as scripture says or did he willingly die so that we would believe his central message that we should love one another and live for one another and even die for one another? I believe that his commitment to the truth and to love were so complete and so right that he was willing to die rather than retreat from anything he said or did.

Jack Ryan | 8/13/2009 - 10:47am

It does indeed displace Christ from the past to the future.  Why would God bother incarnating himself in a mere creature if mankind were only suffering from a natural evolutionary deficiency, which would fix itself over millenia?  Why subject Himself to a brutal, violent death on a cross if evolution were taking us all down the right road.  

I have to stick with Gilson's take on this one, although I understand the superficial prestige and romanticism associated with Teilhard.  The character of Fr. Merrin in the Exorcist seems to be clearly based on him, but that character combined a keen interest in anthropology with the certain knowledge of supernatural realities wholly apart from matter.

Dr Noel Keith Roberts | 8/13/2009 - 2:03am

Pope Benedict wrote some years ago in the Ratzinger report: "In Teilhard's theology there is no place for an 'Original Sin'. Acceptance of this view signifies turning the structure of Christianity on its head. Christ is displaced from the past to the future. There has never been a redemption because there was no sin on account of which man would have to be healed, but only a natural deficiency".

Teihard's evolutionary views led him to adopt a callous eugenic attitude: He writes in "Human energy p132-3: "To what extent should the development of the strong take precedence over the preservation of the weak? How can we reconcile, in the state of maximum efficiency, the care lavished on the wounded with the more urgent necessities of the battle? In what does true charity consist?"

For further criticism of Teilhard's views see my Book "From Piltdown Man to Point Omega: the evolutionary theory of Teilhard de Chardin" New York: Peter Lang 2001.

Teilhard is no model for Christians either on a theological or humane level. The author of this article attributes his own attitudes to Benedict XVl.

Brandin | 8/12/2009 - 11:33pm
Teilhard did address original sin. Original sin is in the rocks, the trees and in the nebula between the stars. It is the unformed within us. That which is unfinished. It is the dark unknowable depths of our prehistory. The inanimate that lingers with us. The Material before concencrated and transformed by love.
Norman Costa | 8/12/2009 - 11:24pm

Ronald Ruais,

You may be thinking of the Piltdown Man Hoax, the discovery of a fraudulent ape-man in the UK in 1912. It was the missing link that demonstrated the emergence of modern man in the "Garden of England."

It was exposed as a hoax in 1953. Pere Teilhard de Chardin had nothing to do with it. Chardin was associated with the discovery of a legitimate homo erectus fossil in China in 1929, Peking Man. The discovery transformed him personally, professionally, theologically, and spiritually. The following is a product description of Amir D. Aczel's bestseller, "The Jesuit and the Skull":

"In December 1929, in a cave near Peking, a group of anthropologists and archaeologists that included a young French Jesuit priest named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin uncovered a prehuman skull. The find quickly became known around the world as Peking Man and was acclaimed as the missing link between erect hunting apes and our Cro-Magnon ancestors. It also became a provocative piece of evidence in the roiling debate over creationism versus evolution.

"For Teilhard, both a scientist and a man of God, the discovery also exposed a deeply personal conflict between the new science and his faith. He was commanded by his superiors to deny all scientific evidence that went against biblical teachings, and his writing and lectures were censored by the Vatican. But his curiosity and desire to find connections between scientific and spiritual truth kept him investigating man's origins. His inner struggle and, in turn, his public rebuke by the Catholic Church personified one of the central debates of our time: How to reconcile an individual's commitment to science and his commitment to his faith.

"In The Jesuit and the Skull, bestselling author Amir D. Aczel vividly recounts the discovery of Peking Man, its repercussions, and how Teilhard de Chardin's scientific work helped to open the eyes of the world to new theories of humanity's origins that alarmed the traditionalists within the Church. A deft mix of narrative history and a poignant personal story, The Jesuit and the Skull brings fresh insight to a debate that still rages today."

Ronald Ruais | 8/12/2009 - 3:25pm
Didn't Teihard de Chardin lie about finding a human bone linked to some evolution theory?
Beartrice Green | 8/12/2009 - 3:05pm
I first read Teilhard when I was an undergraduate in the 60s. Like a lot of the "children of the 60s" I was into exploring the boundaries of consciousness and the spiritual. Seeing cosmic evolution as God's creative process toward a purposed end [an ultimate good] helped me believe when the familiar myths no longer worked for me. Now I think that the evolutionary paradigm can help us understand discrete evolutionary processes as they become manifest in history. This allows us to view  change and development in history from a theological perspective. Given that God created man with free will, it is reasonable to believe that He intended us to be free. Scripture and secular history record human progress toward freedom. If the Exodus is our "alpha point", we then follow the gradual abolition of slavery, the liberation of women from male oppression, efforts everywhere to liberate oppressed people from poverty, toward a perfected final Omega.
Similarly, I see God's love [grace] working thru history. In the beginning God recognized that it was not good for man to be alone [Genesis 2] and he provided him with a companion.  Scripture gives us 4 models of relationship: 1. God's relationship with Israel [mankind]; 2. Men's relations with women and children [family]; 3. Friendship, David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi; 4. Discipleship between Jesus and each of us.
These paradigms aren't just structural categories, quality matters, choice matters. We no longer practice plural marriage[when the Supreme Court forced Utah to outlaw polygamy as a condition for entering the Union, it said that polygamy was an insult to the dignity of women and a concession to male lust.]. The very numerous examples of communal experiments in history and Catholic experience with communities of religious speak of a human desire to affiliate with similar others. Jesus, himself, validated this reality when he said that those who believed in him were true family. Even now, the Church is beginning to recognize gay men and lesbians affinity for relationship with each other in a new "liberation theology". As the biological imperative that impels humanity to sustain the human race decreases, we will increasingly recognize the importance of intimate relationship[s] as a source of meaning for our lives. Is this not the evolutionary experience of God's love [grace] in the world?
Yes, Teilhard's vision was and is both inspiration and assurance for us in challenging times.
 
Beartrice Green | 8/12/2009 - 1:48pm
I first read Teilhard when I was an undergraduate in the 60s. Like a lot of the "children of the 60s" I was into exploring the boundaries of consciousness and the spiritual. Seeing cosmic evolution as God's creative process toward a purposed end [an ultimate good] helped me believe when the familiar myths no longer worked. Now I think that his evolutionary paradigm can help us understand discrete evolutionary processes in history. This allows us to view historical change and development in history from a theological perspective.
Given that God created man with free will, it is reasonable to believe that He intended us to be free and both Scripture and secular history record human progress toward freedom. If the Exodus is our Alpha point, we can then see a process in the abolition of slavery, the liberation of women from male oppression, and efforts everywhere to liberate oppressed people from poverty, toward a perfected final Omega.
Similarly, I see God's love [grace] working thru history with respect to relationship. Science and Scripture prove man to be a social animal. In the beginning God recognized that it was not good for man to be alone [Genesis 2] so he provided him with a companion.  Scripture gives us 4 models of relationship: 1. God's relationship with Israel [mankind]; 2. Men's relations with women and children [family]; 3. Friendship, David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi; 4. Discipleship between Jesus and each of us.
These paradigms aren't just structural categories, quality matters, choice matters. We no longer practice plural marriage [The Supreme Court forced Utah to outlaw polygamy as a condition for statehood. It held that polygamy was an insult to the dignity of women and a concession to male lust.]. The very numerous utopian communities in history and Catholic experience with communities of religious speak of a human desire to affiliate with similar others. Jesus, himself, affirmed this reality when he said that those who believed in Him were His true family.
Even now, the Church is beginning to recognize gay men and lesbians affinity for relationship with each other with a new "liberation theology". As the biological imperative that in the past impelled men and to procreate decreases, we will increasingly recognize the importance of affectional intimacy in relationship[s] as a source of meaning for our lives. Is this not the evolutionary experience of God's love [grace] in the world?
Yes, Teilhard's vision was and is both inspiration and assurance for us in these most challenging of times.
 
Idahosa | 8/12/2009 - 1:37pm
It may be important to read Pope Benedict's acknowledgment of Teihard de Chardin in his unwritten homily at Aosta in light of his earlier private writings. As far back as 1968 in his "Introduction to Christianity", Joseph Ratzinger had already acknowledged the cosmic theology of Teihard de Chardin. In fact he saw it as making Christology accesible through modern view. But in that same write-up he also criticised the too bilogical approach of Teihard de Chardin, and later in his famouns interview published in "The Ratzinger Report" (1985), he spoke of a growing Teilhadism which tends to deny the reality of original sin. Perhaps this may help in understading how the pope personally envisons the theology of de Chardin and its subsequent interpretations.
Beartrice Green | 8/12/2009 - 1:22pm

I first read Teilhard when I was an undergraduate in the 60s. Like a lot of the "children of the 60s" I was into exploring the boundaries of consciousness and the spiritual. Seeing cosmic evolution as God's creative process toward a purposed end [an ultimate good] helped me believe when the familiar myths no longer worked for me. Now I think that the evolutionary paradigm can help us understand discrete evolutionary processes as they become manifest in history.

This allows us to view  change and development in history from a theological perspective. Given that God created man with free will, it is reasonable to believe that He intended us to be free. Scripture and secular history record human progress toward freedom. If the Exodus is our "alpha point", we then follow the gradual abolition of slavery, the liberation of women from male oppression, efforts everywhere to liberate oppressed people from poverty, toward a perfected final Omega.

Similarly, I see God's love [grace] working thru history. In the beginning God recognized that it was not good for man to be alone [Genesis 2] and he provided him with a companion.  Scripture gives us 4 models of relationship: 1. God's relationship with Israel [mankind]; 2. Men's relations with women and children [family]; 3. Friendship, David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi; 4. Discipleship between Jesus and each of us.

These paradigms aren't just structural categories, quality matters, choice matters. We no longer practice plural marriage[when the Supreme Court forced Utah to outlaw polygamy as a condition for entering the Union, it said that polygamy was an insult to the dignity of women and a concession to male lust.]. The very numerous examples of communal experiments in history and Catholic experience with communities of religious speak of a human desire to affiliate with similar others. Jesus, himself, validated this reality when he said that those who believed in him were true family. Even now, the Church is beginning to recognize gay men and lesbians affinity for relationship with each other in a new "liberation theology". As the biological imperative that impels humanity to sustain the human race decreases, we will increasingly recognize the importance of intimate relationship[s] as a source of meaning for our lives. Is this not the evolutionary experience of God's love [grace] in the world?

Yes, Teilhard's vision was and is both inspiration and assurance for us in challenging times.
 

Dan Martin | 8/12/2009 - 12:20pm
It is nice to see this piece in light of the recent passing of Father Thomas M. King, SJ.
Norman Costa | 8/12/2009 - 12:10pm

Editors of America, thank you for a very good article.

As a scientist, I cannot see that evolution is heading in any particular direction. There is no Omega Point that can be deduced or projected from what we observe in nature. However, I sensed something refreshing, two things, actually, in your homage to Teilhard de Chardin. One is the quote from BXVI, "...so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy." This definitely softens my critical view of our Pope.

The other refreshing idea - and I may be gong beyond the intent of the Editors - is that we can conceive of an Omega Point and participate in an evolutionary journey, to the extent that we can. For the scientist, there is no deep meaning in quantum mechanics, or ultimate purpose in evolution. But that doesn't mean we can't give it meaning and purpose.

Humankind does have the traditions, religions, philosophies, and capacities to be able to internalize the ideals of Love All, Serve All, and Compassion. I have no illusions about ever achieving the kind of perfection some would posit as a prerequisite for an, as yet, historical return of a figure in the flesh. This has nothing to do, however, with what we choose to do today, and the meaning we give to it - that which some may describe as God's work.

maryann Shores | 8/12/2009 - 11:49am

See: http://maryann.enigmadream.com/Noetic. I have computer painted over 800 paintings to Teilhard. He is the wave of the future of religion.

JOSEPH CLEARY II | 8/11/2009 - 11:13pm

I would agree that the even the Holy Father can make a mistake or not appreciate or agree with the way that others will interpret his words. On the topic of Teilhard, Mr Ryan and others are welcome to agree or disagree with the BXVI.

But one should little doubt that on this topic, this Pope knew exactly what he was saying in Aoesta and that he expected it to be reported in the manner that occured.

Rev Richard T Rodriguez | 8/11/2009 - 11:04pm
I think Teilhard de Chardin was on the right path, and I think a return to his insights might help us all discover the underpinnings to where we are and where we hope to be.
Rev Richard T Rodriguez | 8/11/2009 - 11:04pm
I think Teilhard de Chardin was on the right path, and I think a return to his insights might help us all discover the underpinnings to where we are and where we hope to be.
Della Robertson | 8/11/2009 - 10:12pm

It was like the breath of the Spirit refreshing the soul to read your article and the excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI's work.

I think the poems of men and women like Teilhard and Hildegaard of Bingen are not meant to pass the scrutiny of orthodoxy but to share a spiritual insight or religious encounter with others on the journey. Spirituality is both unique and universal; in other words, what Teilhard experienced was uniquely his experience, but human beings can relate to the truth shared through song, poetry or prose.

I don't think we can define God and place God within one place or time. Orthodoxy is important, but it isn't everything.

PEGGY KRUSE | 8/11/2009 - 10:11pm
Mr. Ryan, I am a cradle Catholic but in my late 20's began to doubt all I had been taught.   Through God's grace I had an 'adult conversion' at age 34.  After that I read many faith books starting in the late 70's.  When I read Teilhard's Hymn of the Universe, I knew I didn't need to read anything else.   I referred to it as my penultimate book - the ultimate being the Bible.   What eventually became very clear to me was that Teilhard's vision was also Paul's vision, something I think Pope Benedict also mentioned. 
Mona Villarrubia | 8/11/2009 - 9:12pm

"Unless someone is going to claim that Chardin was receiving private revelations - -"
In my study of early christian doctrine it seemed clear that doctrine developed as a result of messy, often acrimonious debate and disputation over sometimes hundreds of years.
And as to the pope's quoting Chardin so reverentially, is it not possible to appreciate how one's theology resonates with that of another without requiring that one accept all the other's ideas? After all, Chardin was never offically renounced as a heretic, and according to conservative Catholic theologians with decades of experience, there is nothing heretical in this idea of a cosmic liturgy.

Personally, I am delighted at the Pope's use of such beautiful, poetic and prophetic imagery.

WILLIAM EDELEN | 8/11/2009 - 8:47pm

"God saw everything he had made, and he found it very good."  Seems to me that Teilhard saw Christ's saving act as returning us to this moment, where, no longer fallen (i.e. unbelieving, fearful and refusing to act in affirmation of God's own assessment of us in Genesis)  but saved by grace, we take yet another step toward understanding the infinite mystery and love of God.  Perhaps John Paul II and Benedict XVI are recognizing that Teilhard may indeed have been gifted with this leap in insight, more a recognition of eternally present truth than a breakthrough of revelation. 

The universe as living host works pretty well in my view.  Just an untrained layperson's first impression of this matter.

Lawrence Vogel | 8/11/2009 - 8:06pm

To Catholics enamored of the work of Teilhard, I would recommend a great book: Hans Jonas's The Phenomenon of Life, published in 1966. Like Teilhard, Jonas places evolution in a broader speculative context. But Jonas rejects Teilhard's "evolutionary optimism... with life's sure and majestic march toward a sublime consummation." Instead, Jonas views life as "an experiment with mounting stakes and risks which in the fateful freedom of man may end in disaster as well as in success." (p. x) 

Jonas knew whereof he spoke. He lost his mother at Auschwitz. He's mindful of how the evolution of humanity may be destroyed not only by evil designs, but also by the best intentions of people who aim for the good. By the latter he means "modern technology," and especially biotechnology with its promise of making life better for all. In the face of the temptations offered by "the bait of utopia," Jonas provides "an imperative of responsibility" to safeguard the future of human life on planet Earth.

Jonas's philosophy avoids, I think, the charge of "pantheism" that is often leveled at Teilhard.

S STEFFEN | 8/11/2009 - 7:43pm
I cannot tell you how uplifted I am by the growing awarenes toward Teilhard de Chardin. Since the mid 1980s I have focused my full life effort toward reconciling faith and reason with evolution, and Chardin with Einstein. My efforts are accessible online at [url=http://www.secondenlightenment.org]www.secondenlightenment.org[/url] and [url=http://www.evolution101.net]www.evolution101.net[/url].
Denial of evolution is tantamount to denying the physical/ psychical underpinnings of faith-in-common.
Thank you, AMERICA
DAVID GENTRY-AKIN | 8/11/2009 - 6:55pm

A moving and beautiful tribute to a great Twentieth Century Theologian.  Thank you.  I had the opportunity, a couple of years ago, with the help of Father John Piderit, SJ, to make a visit to Teilhard's grave in the Jesuit cemetery on the grounds of what is now the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  Teilhard was clearly a faithful Catholic and priest whose insights are simply ahead of his time, and therefore hard for the rest of us to assimilate.  It is not correct to suggest that Teilhard denied any dogma of the Church, including that of Original Sin.  To probe a dogma in order to make it more intelligible is not a denial of the dogma, but rather a desire to give it life in the contemporary milieu.

I might point out that he was as misunderstood by the 'fundamentalists' of the scientific establishment as he was of the 'fundamentalists' within the Church.  Also, Benedict XVI is not the first pope to invoke Teilhard de Chardin in one of his talks.  I distinctly recall reading a text by Paul VI of happy memory from the 1960's in which he quotes Teilhard.  In fact, I heard a subsequent story to the effect that the Holy Father was actually contacted by the Holy Office after the text was published, with a reminder that, since Teilhard's writings had been censured, it was probably best that the pope not be quoting him!

Jack Ryan | 8/11/2009 - 12:36pm
I appreciate the posting.
The Holy See will no doubt need to clarify these remarks at some point in the future, especially since everyone knows that Teilhard rejected the doctrine of Original Sin, among many others.  I'm sure that more than a few Church fathers would disagree with the notion that the role of the priest is to "consecrate the world so that it may become a living host."  Sounds a tad pantheistic to me.  
VALERIE MARCHANT | 8/11/2009 - 10:29am

"I highly doubt the accuracy of the quote attributed to Pope Benedict about making the world a "living host."  I'd love to see America post some official confirmation that he said this, and the context in which he said it. "


Here is the quotation from the Pope's homily at Aosta: "We ourselves, with our whole being, must be adoration and sacrifice, and by transforming our world, give it back to God. The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host. And let us pray the Lord to help us become priests in this sense, to aid in the transformation of the world, in adoration of God, beginning with ourselves. That our lives may speak of God, that our lives may be a true liturgy, an announcement of God, a door through which the distant God may become the present God, and a true giving of ourselves to God. "
[url=http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20090724_vespri-aosta_en.html]http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20090724_vespri-aosta_en.html[/url]
 

Tim Reidy | 8/10/2009 - 4:27pm
Per Mr. Ryan's request: Here is the article by John Allen reporting on Pope Benedict's reference to Teilhard: http://ncronline.org/news/ecology/pope-cites-teilhardian-vision-cosmos-living-host.
Jack Ryan | 8/10/2009 - 4:02pm

Oh boy, where to begin.

I highly doubt the accuracy of the quote attributed to Pope Benedict about making the world a "living host."  I'd love to see America post some official confirmation that he said this, and the context in which he said it. 

In any event, Teilhard's notion that the world is on a constant course of self-improvement toward the "Omega point," when the world's transformation will "reach its fullness," and Christ will then suddenly appear, has absolutely no biblical or theological foundation.  Unless someone is going to claim that Chardin was receiving private revelations - - which I've never heard, his prediction about the end of the world is interesting, but at odds with Christ's own words, e.g., "when the Son of Man returns, will he find even ten men of faith?"  He did not say that He would be coming back when the world was finally perfected.  The notion that fallen mankind can ever be perfected this side of the grave is of course naive nonsense.

I would wager a healthy amount of money that Benedict would be much sooner to agree with the following famous assessment of Chardin than the editorial would lead us to believe: "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." -- Etienne Gilson

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