Press Office of Holy See

Communique of Press Office of the Holy See

On Saturday morning, 11 July [1981], the Holy See Press Office issued the following communique [regarding the Letter of Cardinal Casaroli, which follows].

The letter sent by the Cardinal secretary of State to His Excellency Mons. Poupard on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Fr Teilhard de Chardin has been interpreted in a certain section of the press as a revision of previous stands taken by the Holy See in regard to this author, and in particular of the Monitum of the Holy Office of 30 June 1962, which pointed out that the work of the author contained ambiguities and grave doctrinal errors.

The question has been asked whether such an interpretation is well founded.

After having consulted the Cardinal Secretary of State and the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which, by order of the Holy Father, had been duly consulted beforehand about the letter in question, we are in a position to reply in the negative. Far from being a revision of the previous stands of the Holy See, Cardinal Casaroli’s letter expresses reservations in various passages—and these reservations have been passed over in silence by certain newspapers—reservations which refer precisely to the judgment given in the Monitum of June 1962, even though this document is not explicitly mentioned.

L’Osservatore Romano 20 July 1981, page 2.


Occasion of Centenary of Birth of Father Teilhard de Chardin

On the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Fr Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Cardinal Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli sent on last 12 May [1981] the following letter to Archbishop Paul Poupard, Rector of the Catholic Institute of Paris, where a meeting was held in honour of the scholar.

Your Excellency,

The international scientific community and, more broadly, the whole intellectual world, are preparing to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The astonishing repercussions of his researches, together with the influence of his personality and the richness of his thought, have left a lasting mark on our age.

A powerful poetic insight into the deep value of nature, a keen perception of the dynamism of creation, a wide view of the becoming of the world were combined in him with undeniable religious fervour.

Likewise, due to his continual desire for dialogue with the science of his time and his dauntless optimism with regard to the evolution of the world, his intuitions, through the shimmer of words and the magic of images, caused a considerable stir.

Geared to the future, this synthesis, often so lyrical in expression and fraught with a passion for the universal, will have contributed to restoring to men tormented by doubt the taste of hope. But at the same time, the complexity of the problems tackled as well as the variety of approaches adopted, have not failed to raise difficulties, which rightly motivate a critical and serene study—both on the scientific and on the philosophical and theological levels—of this exceptional work.

There is no doubt that the celebrations of the centenary, at the Catholic Institute of Paris, or at the Natural History Museum, at UNESCO as well as in Notre Dame in Paris, will be from this point of view an opportunity for a stimulating confrontation, through a rightful methodological distinction of levels, on strict epistemological lines.

Our time will certainly remember, beyond difficulties of conception and deficiencies of expression in this bold attempt at a synthesis, the witness of the unified life of a man seized by Christ in the depths of his being, and concerned to honour faith and reason at the same time, responding in advance, as it were, to John Paul II’s appeal, "Do not be afraid; open, open wide the doors to Christ, the immense fields of culture, civilization, and development".

I am happy, Your Excellency, to communicate this message to you on behalf of the Holy Father, for all the participants in the conference over which you preside at the Catholic Institute of Paris as a tribute to Father Teilhard de Chardin, and I assure you of my faithful devotion.


L’Osservatore Romano, 22 June 1981, page 2  

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