Earlier this month, Pope Francis’ “apostolic journey” to Mongolia had unexpected consequences, bringing Pierre Teilhard de Chardin into the news. Teilhard de Chardin, a unique and controversial French Jesuit scientist, has been dead for nearly seventy years. Teilhard’s cosmic theology of spiritual progress has proven to be a useful way to understand the challenges Francis is currently facing as he and the Church prepare for a global synod of bishops in Rome next month. There, three hundred and sixty-three clergy and lay leaders representing two opposing visions of the church will meet in weeks of closed-door dialogue — a process that is supposed to be amicable but could lead to open conflict. A second meeting will be held next October.
The main question surrounding the pope’s trip is “Why Mongolia?” The country of about 3.3 million has only 1,500 Catholics, fewer than a large diocese in Chicago and far fewer than other Asian countries such as Vietnam, which has 7 million Catholics and has a complicated history. Church, and may benefit from a papal visit. (By contrast, in early August, Francis celebrated Mass in Lisbon for a million people, many of them young people celebrating World Youth Day.)
But the trip fit Francis’ expressed desire for the Church to move toward the “margins” and gave him the opportunity to spend time with Italian cleric Giorgio Marengo, who has lived in Mongolia for more than two decades doing missionary work. Such as cultivating Catholic-Buddhist dialogue. Last August, Francis appointed the 49-year-old Marengo as the youngest member of the College of Cardinals, and he is likely to become a progressive figure in the College of Cardinals for decades to come. In Mongolia, Francis had the opportunity to address his neighbors implicitly: The war in Russia, Ukraine has elicited varying, and sometimes confusing, responses from him; Confusion; In China, the Vatican has been widely criticized for agreeing to let the government choose which priests become bishops in exchange for tolerating the church’s presence in the country.
The trip also expressed Francis’ own long-distance interest in Asia. As a young Argentinian, he wanted to become a missionary in Japan; then and later, he hoped to follow in the footsteps of those influential Jesuits who spent much of their careers in Asia: St. Francis Xavier Lue, Matteo Ricci, Pedro Arrupe and Teilhard de Chardin. Born in France in 1881, Teilhard de Chardin was a restless, searching figure: a priest, a poet, a stretcher-bearer in the First World War, a paleontologist based in China (in the 19th century In the 1920s he participated in an important study in China). expedition in search of human origins) and mystical theologian. His writings are part of a sustained effort to reconcile Christian theology with evolution, making him a pioneer in twentieth-century theology—despite recent concerns expressed by other admiring theologians that his emphasis on evolutionary progress places him in stark contrast to “progressive evolutionism.” Compared. Wings of Humanity” with “definitely unprogressive racial groups,” thus aligning himself with movements supporting race-based eugenics. Teilhard’s view that the Earth will one day be surrounded by a complex information system driven by human consciousness is seen as prescient of the internet, and the Anglican preacher at the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle referenced one of Teilhard’s aphorisms: “One day after mastering the wind, the waves, the tides and gravity , we will harness the energy of love for God, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, mankind will discover fire. ” But Teilhard’s most memorable concept was “everything that arises, convergence” or “all that rises must converge” – the various forces of natural evolution and human civilization rise in the pattern of spiritual progress and converge at an “Omega Point” at the end of time.
During a field trip to Mongolia in 1923, Teilhard de Chardin celebrated what he called the “World Mass.” Lacking bread and wine to sanctify in the usual way, he simply sanctified the entire material world, represented by the vast steppe on which he stood. The Mass expressed Teilhard’s ideas, which came to the attention of the Vatican in 1927 and later, with Vatican officials objecting to his denial of human descent from Adam and Eve and a corresponding lack of regard for this idea. of original sin.
Over the next thirty years, Teilhard elaborated on his ideas in numerous essays and two books, The Sacred Environment and Human Phenomenon. The Vatican and his Jesuit superiors banned him from publishing any theological works, but he remained a faithful Catholic and obedient Jesuit. After visiting the United States in 1948, he settled in a Jesuit residence in New York City, where he died on Easter Sunday 1955 and began publishing his work. Criticism of his work moderated during the Second Vatican Council, first convened in 1962, and his book became a standard text among progressive theologians—until the rise of traditionalist Popes John Paul II and Benedict X Under VI, the books fell out of favor again. Talk warmly about him in person from time to time.
This pope, however, specifically looked to Teilhard as an example. Starting in 2015, he cited Teilhard as inspiration in his landmark encyclical on climate, Laudato Si (Laudato Si) (he is expected to release another encyclical next month). After celebrating Sunday Mass in Mongolia, Francis spoke passionately about Dehad and the centenary of the Mass he celebrated there. “This often misunderstood priest,” he said, “intuited that ‘the Eucharist is always celebrated in some way on the altar of the world.'” Pope brings priests back from the fringes and joins them on his own trip to Asia in Dehard.
Francis’s signature style of speaking is to make off-the-cuff comments that are clearly on the side of progress but are vague about how to achieve it, a tendency that has also sparked controversy recently. On August 25, Pope Francis held a video call with young Russian Catholics, urging them to connect with “the Great Russia of the saints, the rulers, the Great Russia of Peter I, Catherine II, that great, Enlightened, great culture and great humanity” Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk, leader of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church, immediately condemned the pope for celebrating past and present Russian imperialism.and then the Jesuit Magazine catholic civilization A partial transcript of a conversation Francis had with Portuguese Jesuits during his visit earlier this month has been published. Asked about the public criticism of him from some American Catholics, including bishops, Francis responded at length. “You have seen that things are not easy in the United States: reactionary attitudes are very strong. It is organized and shapes the way people belong, even emotionally,” he said. “I want to remind those people behind“-Behind–” is of no use, we need to understand that there is a proper evolution in the understanding of matters of faith. ” He later added, “You’re talking about groups in the United States that are so insular and is isolating themselves. They live not by doctrine, not by true doctrine which always develops and bears fruit, but by ideology. “
Everyone wants to know which American groups is Francis talking about?inside eraC. Preston Noel III of the American Society for the Protection of Tradition, Family and Property, a Pennsylvania-based offshoot of a Brazilian group founded in 1960 to resist the alleged influence of communism on the church. C. Preston Noell III) noted that the amount of time Francis has spent in the United States, where he has been pope for less than a week, shows how little he knows about the life of the Church here.Washington postal A dossier of suspects was compiled that included Raymond Arroyo, a host at EWTN, the traditionally Catholic cable network in Alabama, who personified the network’s opposition to Francis. Others pointed to Cardinal Raymond Burke, who served as archbishop of St. Louis and later a Vatican official until he was removed from office in 2014 and replaced in another position earlier this year. In the foreword to his new book, Burke writes that the October synod will cause “chaos and errors” and cause “serious injury to many souls.” The book has been published in eight languages by the Society for the Protection of Tradition, Family and Property, which has sent copies to bishops and clergy, some of whom will become delegates to the synod.