Today marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of a thinker who would find himself profoundly outside the mainstream of both current Vatican thinking and atheist-scientists on today's bestseller list—a man who felt that science would be “increasingly impregnated by mysticism,” but who also observed with unblinking eyes an institution he nevertheless loved and obeyed, no matter what it cost him mentally.
During his ministry, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was continually forced to defend his theories by reactionary forces in Rome. He did not live to see the triumph of his thinking at Vatican II. In the years since, he has become a model of prayerful, expectant waiting for change within the Roman Catholic Church—an attitude forged in the crucible of WWI, when, despite seeing untold horrors, he continued to believe that Christ would redeem the carnage. As he wrote his cousin Marguerite:
“Only the image of the crucified can sum up, express and relieve all the horror, and beauty, all the hope and deep mystery in such an avalanche of conflict and sorrows. As I looked at this scene of bitter toil, I felt completely overcome by the thought that I had the honour of standing at one of the two or three spots on which, at this very moment, the whole life of the universe surges and ebbs places of pain but it is there that a great future (this I believe more and more) is taking shape."