Graham Fallon's letter on Teilhard de Chardin (June AD2000) endeavours to give Teilhard an orthodox theological status that contradicts the evidence. To understand the real Teilhard let us listen to the man himself. (The emphases are mine).
In 1936 Teilhard wrote to Leontine Zantha: "What increasingly dominates my interest is the effort to establish within myself and to diffuse around me a new religion whose personal God is the soul of the world ...".
He meant what he said about a "new religion". In Stuff of the Universe (1953) he reveals: "I have come to the conclusion that ... a whole series of reshaping of certain representations or attitudes, which seem to us definitely fixed by Catholic Dogma, has become necessary if we wish to christophy evolution. One could say that an unknown form of religion is gradually germinating in the heart of modern man ...".
In "Letter to ex-DominicanG" (4 October 1950), Teilhard says: "I consider the reformation in question is no longer a simple matter of institution and ethics, but of faith ... In the last 50 years I have watched the revitalisation of Catholic thought and life taking place around me - in spite of the encyclicals - too closely not to have confidence in the ability of the old Roman stem to revivify itself ...".
A new religion with a new faith. No orthodoxy there!
Teilhard had made it clear in 1929 just where he stood. In his work, The Human Sense, he stated: "Let us acknowledge the situation honestly: Not only The Imitation of Christ, but also the Gospel itself needs to undergo this correction, and the whole world will make them undergo it."
Since original sin stood in the way, the elimination of this dogma of faith was a priority. In a 1947 paper published by Collins (1971) in Christianity and Evolution, Teilhard says: "Without exaggeration one can say 'Original Sin', in the formulation still current today, is one of the principal obstacles to the intensive progress of Christian thought."
Teilhard was pursuing his own logic; his major premise, evolution's supremacy, he enunciates in The Phenomenon of Man: "Is evolution a theory, a system or a hypothesis? It is much more: it is the general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a curve that all lines must follow."
Clearly, Catholic Faith was one of those lines.
BR JIM WARD CFC
St Patrick's College, Ballarat, Vic