32nd ACISE International Conference

Inspiring Trust

If ecology is the issue of the moment, it’s a serious one for the Catholic Church. On this subject, it seems that, “to get out of the current predation of resources and into ecological solidarity, we need Teilhard[1]”. This may seem surprising. Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit-paleontologist who lived between 1881 and 1955, could not have been concerned with ecology. It was not at all the preoccupation of his time. Yet it would seem that his work can be read from new perspectives. Doesn’t this passage from Phénomène humain foreshadow the Anthropocene, without naming it?

“Age of Industry, Age of Oil, Electricity and the Atom. Age of the Machine. Age of great communities and Science… The future will decide on the best name to describe this era we are entering.2 “.


Progress was praised at the heart of the “Glorious Thirty”; today, we see it as the “Devastating Thirty”. How, then, can we write “we need Teilhard”, the cantor of progress? This paper sets out the phenomenon in its historical depth, in a three-part presentation.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, his life and writings. Was he particularly interested in nature? What did he read? Did the author of “La place de l’homme dans la nature” envisage a global, universal vision? We’ll then look at the wave of Teilhardism that swept through France immediately after Teilhard’s death. Teilhard’s work was both adopted and disguised. This will be a section in depth, for which we’ll read more about the contradicts, the whistle-blowers, notably the personalists of Esprit magazine. And Teilhardism suddenly fades away, not because of the force of criticism or sanctions, but because it ceases to be contested. Finally, the third phase arrives, surprisingly, at the turn of the twentieth to the twenty-first century. Teilhard’s thought, Americanized by Thomas Berry, is back. Berry gives it the ecological impetus that raises the question of the existence of a neo-Teilhardism.


At the end of this presentation, it should be possible to dissociate Teilhard de Chardin from the successive waves of Teilhardism. Readers can then approach the work without being distracted by the successive disguises from which it suffers, and ask themselves whether a new reading can bring the hope the century needs and contribute to a better engagement with the world in a universal vision.

1 Fabien Revol, Penser l’écologie dans la tradition catholique, Paris, Labor et Fides, 2018, p. 268.



[2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Le Phénomène humain, Paris, Seuil, 1955, p. 237.

KUL, Lublin, Poland – 4-6 April 2024