In the middle of the fourth century, Saint Jerome remarked that the world “awoke with a groan to find itself Arian.” Arianism divided the Church and Empire of the fourth and fifth centuries and beyond by claiming that the Divine Logos, Jesus Christ, was not of the same substance (homoousios) as the Father and not co-eternal with the Father as defined at the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.). Some sought to substitute homoiousios, “of a similar nature,” to find a peaceful solution. However, as the Catholic Church has perennially taught, the truth must be presented whole and complete, without subterfuge or compromise.
In the mid-twentieth century, one may have paraphrased St. Jerome: “the world awoke, without so much as a whimper, to find itself Teilhardian.”
Still troubled by the Galileo affair, the Church bent over backwards in trying to incorporate faith and science into a seamless garment. Following the 1925 Scopes Trial, Darwin’s theory of evolution was more and more presented as dogma by the scientific community, and Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955) took it upon himself to reconcile Darwinian evolution and Catholic theology [i].
In fact, Teilhard was originally censured and exiled by his Jesuit superiors in 1923 for questioning the doctrines of original sin and eternal damnation. In 1947, upon return from banishment in China, he was once again censured by the Holy Office, Pope Pius XII himself having called his work a “cesspool of errors.” However, Teilhard began further insinuating his ideas among his fellow Jesuits at the French theologate La Fourvière in Lyon by means of unsigned mimeographed monographs. By the mid- to late 1950s, his theories were extolled by many, if not most, Jesuits, including Karl Rahner, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, and especially Henri de Lubac, who wrote glowingly of Teilhard: “We need not concern ourselves with a number of detractors of Teilhard, in whom emotion has blunted intelligence” [ii]. By the time of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in October 1962, the Society of Jesus had all but abandoned the Neo-Scholastic theology of Francisco Suarez in favor of Teilhardian evolutionary “cosmogenesis.”
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