T is for Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Some of his works, on subjects such as original sin and evolution, were banned by Rome as early as 1939.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ was a “Jesuit paleontologist who worked to understand evolution and faith…. [he] fully participated in a life that included priesthood, living and working in the front lines of war, field work exploring the early origins of the human race, and adventurous travels of discovery in the backlands of China.

“[He] also participated fully in an intellectual life through the development of his imaginative, mystical writings on the evolutionary nature of the world and the cosmos.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born 1 May 1881. “While both of his parental lineages were distinguished, it is noteworthy that his mother was the great grandniece of… Voltaire. He was the fourth of the couple’s eleven children and was born at the family estate of Sarcenat… in the ancient province of Auvergne.”

A biography notes: “Drawn to the natural world, Teilhard developed his unusual powers of observation.” He was deeply affected by the deaths of his brother Alberic in 1902, followed in 1904 by the death of Louise, his youngest sister, caused him to “momentarily to turn away from concern for things of this world.”

But he found his bearings, and developed a resume that is extraordinary. Among many things: he taught physics and chemistry in Cairo; served as a stretcher-bearer during World War I, for which he received several citations; and spent many years in China, taking part in the discovery of Peking Man. And writing throughout.

He died on 10 April 1955, Easter Sunday, in New York City and buried 60 miles north of there.

I found him interesting because, in 2017, participants at a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture unanimously approved a petition to be sent to Pope Francis to remove the Vatican’s ‘warning’ from Teilhard de Chardin’s writings that dated back to 1962.

Some of his works, on subjects such as original sin and evolution, were banned by Rome as early as 1939. Read a rebuttal to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin here.

Read Teilhard for Beginners.

For ABC Wednesday