A Living Host
~ PART II ~
The Teilhardism of Joseph Ratzinger
I offer again the statement of Pope Benedict from his homily at Aosta. Having analyzed the philosophy and theology of Teilhard de Chardin in Part I, these words should now take on immense, and immanently frightening, significance for any traditional Catholic.
It is, of course, almost a knee-jerk response for any good Catholic to instinctively diffuse the import of such an outrageous statement made by a reigning Pope. Somehow, we think, he does not really mean it — he does not understand Teilhard, and has not read him in depth. The fact is, however, that the opposite is true. In his book Introduction to Christianity (Ignatius Press, 2004), Joseph Ratzinger quotes from five of Teilhard’s works, including The Heart of Matter which I made the principle subject of my analysis in Part I. He has read Teilhard, he understands Teilhard, and he has accepted, with minor qualifications, the “Great Vision” of Teilhard.
In order to be able to understand the present Pope’s “Teilhardism,” we need to do some preparatory examination of his particular evolutionary views. Again, we tend to have a “diffused” view concerning the evil involved in the acceptance of evolutionary theory, and especially the consequences attendant upon having a Pope who is a convinced evolutionist. This is fostered by a number of factors.
We tend, for instance, to think of all so-called Christian evolutionists as coming from that camp of “Theistic Evolutionists” who believe that at a certain stage of physical evolution, God infused a soul into a being who was hitherto an animal. Joseph Ratzinger absolutely rejects such a view. His evolutionary view is very different, and as we shall see, much more destructive to the Catholic Faith.
We also tend to minimize the evil of evolutionary belief because of all the prominent Catholics who have believed in evolution: “After all, Bishop Sheen was an evolutionist.” Yes, Bishop Sheen was an evolutionist. He also had read Teilhard de Chardin, embraced his central concepts and terminology, and even went so far as to say that in 50 years it would be very likely that Teilhard “will appear like John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as the spiritual genius of the twentieth century. (Footprints in a Darkened Forest, Meredith Press, 1967, p. 73).” Leaving judgment of Bishop Sheen to others, or to other times, we must yet note that it is now 44 years since Bishop Sheen made this prediction, and with the Papacy of Benedict XVI we do now indeed appear to be on the cusp of its fulfillment.
Evolution and Teilhardian Cosmology Embraced
Let us, first of all, establish absolute certainty as to Joseph Ratzinger’s embrace of evolution.
The year 2009 saw the publication by Ignatius Press of a book of essays written by Joseph Ratzinger titled Credo for Today: What Christians Believe (translated from the original 2006 German version). The essays are taken from various works published between the years 1971-2006. Credo for Today contains a chapter titled "Creation: Belief in Creation and the Theory of Evolution" [taken from Joseph Ratzinger’s 1972 work Dogma and Verkündung (Preaching or Proclamation)]. It is devoted to an attempt to reconcile the Christian view of creation with the scientific theory of evolution. Here we read the following:
The first thing we must realize, therefore, is that Joseph Ratzinger is not merely “influenced” by evolutionary thinking. He has embraced it in its depths. And this embrace has necessitated what, in the very first sentence of his article, he calls “a revolution in our world view that was no less thoroughgoing than the one that we associate with the name Copernicus.”
Secondly, the fundamental component in this “revolution in our world view” consists in the fact that in the light of what Joseph Ratzinger considers the indisputable truth of evolution, the concept of “being” does not indicate any sort of fixed substantial nature, but rather that “being is time; it does not merely have time. Only in becoming does it exist and unfold into itself” (p. 42). This evolutionary “becoming” is meaningful because, contrary to the view of materialistic evolutionists, it is directed by “Mind” or “Creative Reason,” and has a “forward” momentum. All this is in deep agreement with the thinking of Teilhard de Chardin. The latter in fact specifically defends himself against the charge of being a pantheist because he believes in the ultimate goal of evolution a as being union with “some pre-existent being.”
This “becoming” is fully explored by Joseph Ratzinger in his book Introduction to Christianity. It is in the passages of this work that one sees both his endorsement of Teilhard’s system as a whole and his adoption of its specific terminology.
As we have seen, the key “scientific” term which facilitates Teilhard’s system of evolutionary growth towards the Omega Point is “complexification.” Joseph Ratzinger seems enamoured of this term — I count eleven uses of the terms “complexity” or “complexification” in 10 pages of his treatment of the thought of Teilhard de Cardin. Following are several examples:
And, in order to demonstrate that this sort of Teilhardian cosmology is not just a momentary aberration in a single work, we also have the following from Joseph Ratzinger’s book titled Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life [first German ed. 1977; English, 1988]:
The quotes given above should be sufficient in order to establish with absolute certainty the extraordinary degree to which Joseph Ratzinger has embraced both the specific terminology and general cosmology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. It is interesting that at the beginning of his discussion of Teilhard, he mentions a “not entirely unobjectionable tendency toward the biological approach” in Teilhard’s approach to these subjects, but then immediately states that he “nevertheless on the whole grasped them correctly….” It is almost as though Joseph Ratzinger recognized that he was treading on condemned and heretical ground, felt the need to make some unsubstantial and unexplained “qualification,” and yet could not resist bounding forward into virtual total embrace of the Teilhardian system and all the essential concepts involved.
The problem in all this, as Joseph Ratzinger fully admits, is the question as to how we explain the rise of man, and the fact that we believe that he possesses a spiritual “soul.” As I said earlier, he categorically rejects the position of some “Theistic Evolutionists” who basically conceive of a God Who “waits in the wings,” and at the opportune moment in evolutionary history, infuses a spiritual soul into an animal body. He dismisses such a solution as being “intolerable” to both the evolutionist and the theologian (p. 38).
It is here that he again has recourse to Teilhard. After quoting a rather dense passage from his writings, Joseph Ratzinger offers us the following exposition:
It is clear here that Joseph Ratzinger’s thinking is in striking accord with “the decisive point” of Teilhard de Chardin in regard to the evolution of spirit and mind. Many traditionalists are in confusion in regard to Benedict’s evolutionary views because he rejects “meaningless evolution” (as he did in his 2011 Easter Vigil Homily). But to reject meaningless evolution is not at all the same as rejecting evolution. Teilhard de Chardin also totally rejects “meaningless evolution.” In both men’s thinking there is in fact so much significance and meaning to evolution that it is the primary vehicle by which God deals with man, and by which man’s spirit arises.
Lest we are tempted to think that Teilhard is a theologian with whom the present Pope is not really in essential agreement, we have the following matter-of-fact conclusion from Joseph Ratzinger’s pen in regard to the appearance of spirit in a human being:
One can only surmise that Adam’s next act after his initial dim and stammering thought of God was a puzzled grunt. There is here no Adam and Eve created in the fullness of sanctifying grace, possessing the infused gifts, both natural and supernatural, necessary for what has traditionally been known as the state of “Original Justice.” There can be no loss of this state through Original Sin. There can be no real moral responsibility for a human mind and will living in such dimness and stammering. There is only evolution and becoming.
At this point, I refer the reader to my article titled The Point of Departure. There, I document Joseph Ratzinger’s rejection of “Original Sin” as a certainly misleading and imprecise term,” his ridiculing of the concept of original sin received through generation as being comparable to God running a concentration camp in which relatives are also imprisoned because of the deeds of another member of the family, and his substitution of a notion of “original sin” which sees it as something picked up after conception and birth through “damaged relationships.” And in his book God and the World, then Cardinal Ratzinger describes the traditional Catholic teaching that baptism endows us with sanctifying grace as “unenlightened,” “problematic,” and “questionable.” Such, of course, is the logical fruit of the rejection of the traditional creation account, and the substitution of an evolutionary view of man’s origins. If there is no sanctifying grace lost, there is none to be regained. If there is no Fall, there is no real “New Man” effected through baptism. Such is “meaningful” evolution. It “means” that virtually the entire faith is destroyed.
An Evolutionary Christ
This destruction must also effect belief in Christ and the Incarnation. As we have seen, Teilhard teaches that “it is Christ who is saved by evolution,” that “[Christ] is becoming universal through radiation,” and that “I see in the World a mysterious product of completion and fulfillment for the Absolute Being himself.”
It is, of course, traditional Catholic teaching that Christ’s Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection brought a radical change into the world. Christ’s Advent, and the resultant conversion of millions from a state of original sin to one of sanctifying grace, resulted in an ontological change in millions of souls, which in turn radically changed social realities, and created a Christian civilization. The teachings of many previous Popes contain stirring testimonies to this radical “ontological” change which ensued from Christ’s Advent. As Pope Leo XIII wrote:
Such radical, ontological change and restoration is, of course, impossible in the world of Teilhardian evolution. The Incarnation, according to Teilhard de Chardin, is not to be seen as a one-time event which restored salvation to mankind, but only the beginning of an ages-long process of evolutionary incorporation of the human into the divine, and of the incarnation of the divine into the human, reaching final convergence at the Omega Point of the Christic. This Teilhardian rejection of the traditional understanding of Christ’s Advent is perfectly expressed by Joseph Ratzinger in the following passage from his book Being Christian:
It is immensely ironic and tragic that Joseph Ratzinger does not realize that the 20th Century atrocities which he lists in no way provide evidence against the traditional view of Christ’s Advent, or against such doctrines as original sin, sanctifying grace, or the necessity for implementing the Social Kingship of Christ. Rather, they provide profound confirmation of the inevitable consequences of a decay of traditional Christian orthodoxy and civilization, and the resultant ascension to power of forces, ideas, individuals, and movements (Communism, Nazism, and secular-messianic democracy) at total war with Christianity. Nor does he realize what atrocities the dark horizons of the future hold in store as a consequence of his own betrayals of this Tradition, and his embrace of Teilhardian evolution.
The Future of the Liturgy in an Evolutionary World
In his most comprehensive work on theology, Principles of Catholic Theology, Joseph Ratzinger offers the following assessment of Teilhard de Chardin’s influence upon Vatican Council II:
By now the reader should not be too befuddled by Teilhard-Ratzinger newspeak. What is being said here is that the “daring” event that was Vatican II amounted to an “opening” (aggiornamento) and incorporation of the Church into the larger evolutionary movement of the entire world and all of its individual realities and forces.
In other words, Evolutionism, Teilhardism, and Vatican II are Ecumenism. “Isolationism” is a thing of the past, and it is now time for “Mono-molecules” and formation in the unity of a “Super-mind” which leads to the Omega Point of a Christic which is something more than the Christ of traditional faith. All of this, of course, is reflected in the changes that were effected in the New Mass and its “turning” towards the modern world.
The Form of Mass which we possess, as has been pointed out earlier, is intimately reflective of, and corresponds to, the Faith. Any significant changes in this Form are therefore bound to reflect changes, if not in regard to the Deposit of Faith itself, at least to current theological orientations to this Faith. One of the most interesting passages which I have encountered in the writings of Teilhard de Chardin is to be found in a letter published in the book The Heart of Matter. In speaking of dogmatic formulas and what must happen to them in light of evolutionary growth of understanding, Teilhard states that:
In other words, the perception and understanding of truth can be changed while words remain the same. The words of dogmatic formulations can remain the same but only be subjected to a “hermeneutics of continuity” which sees them under new “aspects.” And even the Mass, for the most part, can remain the same, but its perceived meaning and spiritual orientation can be radically altered by small changes. But underneath all this “sameness,” or what might appear as only “modest” changes, an entirely new “aspect” pervades the Church, which acts like a corrosive acid upon the faith of millions. And all this can be passed off as “in continuity with tradition.”
But not everything can remain. There are certain things that cannot subsist in the light of evolutionary and ecumenical thinking. Already, in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the prayer for the conversion of the Jews has been changed. As stated by Pope Benedict in Light of the World:
There can be no prayer for immediacy of conversion in an evolutionary milieu. There can be only prayer for final unity at the Omega Point of evolutionary history. The New Prayer devised by Benedict XVI is nothing less than an invasion of evolutionary and ecumenical “Teilhardism” into the Old Mass. Similar changes must come to any other parts of the liturgy which in any way offend evolutionary and ecumenical principles. This is especially true of the companion prayer for the conversion of heretics and schismatics which is part of the Good Friday Liturgy.
Beyond this, there is little need to speculate about particulars. We can, however, be assured that the “Common Rite” of the Mass of the future, forecast by Cardina Koch, will assume, in the words of Teilhard de Chardin, “a new aspect.”
According to the agenda described by Cardinal Koch, we can also be assured of one more thing — the “Mass of all Times” will be no more. The New Common Rite will, in effect, be a “Mass on the World.” This Mass already largely exists in the form of the Novus Ordo, which Pope Benedict XVI has confirmed as the “Ordinary Form” and the basic form of the future.
Clearly, the problem, as Benedict sees it, lies not in the Form itself, but in what he perceives to be the banality and lack of reverence in its “celebration.” The “intra-Church” ecumenical role of Summorum Pontificum, and of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, is to act as a kind of catalyst to inject nobility, depth and reverence into the New Mass. It simply is not within the scope of the present Pope’s viewpoint that in so doing he is trying to restore beauty to what is aesthetically deficient, reverence to that which in fact detracts from God’s Majesty, and holiness to that which is glaringly mundane in its essential form.
The Fatima Message: Remedy and Hope
God, of course, can intervene and change all of this at any time. It is also true, however, that in order to grant such extraordinary graces, He usually requires our cooperation in meriting such. This, of course, is the message of Fatima. It is therefore most frightening that, although there has been much written in recent decades about the falsification of the Fatima message, actual response by living Our Lady’s specific requests seems to have plummeted.
The image comes to mind of a severely wounded animal who cries out in excruciating pain, but then rather than seeking the help that is at hand, crawls into a dark hole in order to die alone. The remedy is still there. We need only correspond. In this lies our sole hope.